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More people looking for love online, but don't forget safety

Online dating, Help Me Hank Safety Alert

DETROIT

The online dating revolution continues as looking for love on your computer or your phone keeps gaining wider acceptance.

From Match.com to Tinder and Bumble, there are so many options. Some of them are very casual, others are "LTR" oriented -- that's long-term relationship in case you're catching up on the lingo.

New research shows more Americans accept the idea of finding love online. A recent Pew Research Center poll shows 59 percent of American adults agree online dating is a good way to meet people. Five percent of all Americans, in committed relationships, revealed they met their significant others online. And, the number of adults between ages 55 to 64 who use online dating has doubled since 2013.

Amanda, of Walled Lake, said she's seen the best and the worst online dating has to offer.

"I tried it once, didn't work out. Went on a date, he wasn't what I thought," she said.

However, while she felt burned by the online dating experience she knows two couples who met online and are now getting married.

"My twin sister is actually getting married in October to a really great guy she met on Match.com," she said.

Online dating safety precautions

If you decide to breach the digital dating divide, you'll want to keep several safety precautions in mind. Help Me Hank has gathered some steps designed to make the experience safer and more enjoyable.

  • Protect your privacy while chatting online, don't share your last name, home address, or other personal information too quickly.
  • Use Google Image to see if the person's photo is used anywhere else. You might be able to spot a fake.
  • Create an email address that you use just to connect with people online. Don't use a work or personal email address.
  • When creating your profile, be sure to use a recent photo and be honest so people who click on your profile know what to expect.
  • Before meeting in person, move the conversation to the phone. It's easier to see if you'll click during an actual conversation.
  • When chatting, ask some key questions more than once. If you spot inconsistencies or hesitation, it might be a sign that something's off.
  • If you decide to meet, of course, meet in a public place where other people will be present.
  • Be sure to drive yourself to the meeting and have transpiration to get home.
  • Stay sober during the meeting. It may be tempting to have some cocktails to relax, but stay alert during the first meetings with any new date.
  • Tell at least one trusted friend when you're meeting your date and when you'll be home. You may also want to let them know the profile name of the person you're meeting and what site or app you met on, just in case. 
  • Of course, you should never send a potential date money, but there are other red flags you should beware. Watch for excessive grammar and spelling errors. Be very leery, if he/she asks for your address to send flowers or gifts.
  • Know the earmarks of online scams. Some of the most common scenarios include telling you they're currently out of the country and they need you do send someone a package, pick up a package, or loan them money to get back to the United States.
  • Trust your intuition. If something seems odd, listen to those doubts. Either make sure they are 100 percent resolved, or move on!
  • Talk to close friends and family about how things are going. Any time you feel yourself reluctant to tell your "circle of advisors" what's happening, it might be a sign that something is wrong, and you don't want them to confirm your suspicions. Get advice and second opinions throughout the online dating process


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