How College Students Can Use Dating Apps Safely
College students are a prime target for cybercriminals. Many college students are active on dating apps, which can be a great way to meet fellow students. Students new to a college or university may use dating apps as a way to meet new mates and find new love.
Each new year at college can be exciting! It’s only natural to want to meet other mates in your new community. While dating apps can be a fun and exciting way to meet new people, however, it can also present unique challenges and risks.
Dating apps are becoming known for romance scams with cybercriminals scamming money and financial information from victims. All types of predators love dating apps besides social media apps.
When young adults leave their parents and are out on their own, they may tend to over embracing their freedom and with a false sense of knowing how to take care of themselves. We all know the stages of becoming an adult are exciting.
However, too many young adults can be irresponsible and fly by the seat of their pants too freely.
Unfortunately, numerous college students go missing from those they intend to meet in person from a dating app. Further, it’s not just kidnappings, it’s also sextortion, catphishing, and cyberstalking are crimes derived from dating apps also.
Whether you are using traditional dating apps or connecting through social media sites, it is important to stay safe while navigating the world of college dating.
To help you stay protected from cybercrime and other dangers, here are some tips for college students on how to date safely and responsibly online.
Fake Dating App Profiles:
Many fake profiles exist on dating apps. One of the most important things to be aware of when dating in college is the prevalence of fake profiles on many different apps and social media sites.
These fake profiles are often used by cybercriminals and scammers in an attempt to steal money, and sensitive personal information, or lure college students into scams, so it is essential to be cautious when interacting with unknown users online.
College students need to be aware of the prevalence of fake profiles on dating apps and social media sites. To protect yourself, it is important to be cautious when interacting with unknown users online.
Be sure to do your research before meeting with anyone. Check to see if the same profile is on multiple dating sites. Is there any consistency in the profiles? Are they all “copy and paste”?
If the profile is also on social media, check to see who their friends are. Especially if there are any within the area as yourself, same age group, and if there are any negative comments against their character.
These insights can be red flags to avoid this person. By being aware of the dangers of fake profiles, college students can stay safe while enjoying all the benefits of college dating.
Meet Only in Public:
One of the most important safety tips college students should keep in mind when dating online is to always meet in public. This means choosing a well-lit, busy location for your first date.
You can always bring a friend along with you for extra security. Even if the friend is in the background just to help keep you secure.
When meeting in public, look for establishments that have security cameras. These add an extra layer of safety should you go missing.
Never Go To Dates Home:
While some college students may want to get away from their parent’s nagging when their mom warns their students to not go to strangers’ homes, there are many valid reasons these words ring true.
An oblivious person is not safe in a stranger’s home. A college student does not know what is in that person’s home such as weapons, drugs, hidden cameras, or a mentally ill person.
It’s not only important to never go to a new person’s home but to also never let them know where you live for your own safety.
Maintain Your Physical Safety:
Your physical safety is crucially important when it comes to meeting an unknown person on a dating app. Especially if you’re a small-frame female.
Being able to protect yourself with self-defense can be imperative. Make sure you know good self-defensive moves to protect yourself should you feel you may be compromised. Carry Mace, pepper spray, Apple tag, or other GPS tracking devices. These GPS devices can help your friends and family track you and be aware of your last known location.
Do Not Share Personal Identifying Information:
Be sure not to share any private details such as your address, phone number, or financial information with anyone on the app. Personal identifying information includes your employment, family, children, schools, personal vehicle, where you were born, and related information that provides specific historical information about you.
Some cybercriminals look for the “chatty Kathy” who loves to talk about themselves. These “Kathy’s” provide so much valuable information freely for cyber scammers to use to their own benefit. And it’s given to them without any coercion.
As young adults love to use social media to get attention, brag to become famous, and make money, they freely provide so much private information and may not realize it.
It’s best to have everything locked and protected to share only with those on friends lists so the sharer is aware of exactly whom they are sharing their private life with.
Do Not Consume a Pre-Ordered Drink:
When meeting a date at a restaurant or a bar, order your own drink. Keep it by your hand at all times. Eliminate any chance for your drink to be roofied. If your date has a drink pre-ordered for you to be romantically attentive, be cautious.
Especially if they encourage you to drink it promptly.
Another red flag maybe if they are asking how you are feeling. That may be a sign they are expecting the drug to work and get you out of the bar before you may need to be carried out and cause attention.
Some bartenders may be suspicious of your date especially if you have been in the establishment for a short time. It may be best to just “accidentally” spill your drink to get a new one to ensure your safety.
Make sure the bartender hands it to you directly. Do not give anyone a chance to slip anything into your beverages.
Keep the Conversation on the Dating App:
When conversing with a new person before meeting in person, it’s imperative for the dating app security policies that you keep the conversations on the dating app. They can only keep you safe to that extent.
If you agree to take the conversation off the dating app, they are not responsible for any romance scams or cybercrime that may happen to you.
Further, do not give your direct phone number without having talked to someone for a good period of time. Some students give their phone numbers within 15 minutes or less. There’s plenty of time for personal information to be earned.
Most dating apps have video calling. Use that to your advantage to ensure they are who they say they are. If they have excuses of why they can not such as trying to steer you to Google Hangouts, that is a red flag they may be a scammer.
Do NOT Send Sexual Natured Images:
This tip is huge! Do NOT ever send sexually-natured pics online. If a dating app member asks for them, that’s a red flag. If you two are to meet, the other person can earn such pics when your relationship grows to that level. If they insist, block them.
They may be looking for victims for sextortion. No one likes to be blackmailed. And the truth is no young adult knows what they may face in the future. But they likely know they do not want evidence arising when they are years later in their career about their past.
It’s best to prevent any possibility of being in such situations by not creating potentially self-damaging images.
Watch Out for Romance Scams:
Romance scams are on an intense rise. So much so that it’s becoming harder to find legitimate profiles of people truly looking for love. These scammers may say they are in your area and actually not be. College towns are great areas for these scammers to target.
Many dating apps use GPS to help members find locals to meet with in person. Unfortunately, these scammers may be in the area and lie about not being in the local vicinity but many use VPNs and other means to hide their true geolocation. This causes confusion to members trying to find locals to get together with.
These location scammers usually have similar stories: working on an oil rig, on an assignment overseas, unavailable indefinitely, etc.
Yet the victim should be on top of their game by pointing out that if the internet is spotty, how are they getting a connection for one?
For two, why bother dating someone who is not local nor immediately available for a relationship?
What is their purpose for being on dating sites if they are not available?
Those are burning red flags for many to wake up to.
If you have any suspicions about a profile, you can report it to the dating app platform so that it can be investigated and removed if necessary.
Do Not Give Money:
Many of these dating scammers use stories to get to the heartstrings and purse strings of their victims. Such as their passport being stolen or missing or their work Visa having issues. They tell the dating victim they need money to fix their problem so they can come “home” to see them.
When the truth is that if they are having such issues, they need to go to the Embassy or Consulate to help resolve the problem.
These tips include being aware of fake profiles, not sharing personal information with anyone on the app, meeting in public places for first dates, and trusting your gut if something seems off.
Whether you are connecting on a dating app or social media site, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts if something seems off.
By following these guidelines and keeping an eye out for potential red flags, college students can have fun while staying safe while dating online. With these tips in mind, college students can feel confident that they are staying safe while enjoying all the benefits of college dating.
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