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Online Dating and Catfishing – Safety First

online dating 101 1 200x300As Season Two of MTV’s Catfish is now underway, it’s likely that you may think that online dating is a little “off.” Hopefully this article and these statistics will change your mind.

Of more than 19,000 couples who married between 2005 and 2012, 35 percent originally met online, according to a study conducted by the market research firm IBISWorld (and funded by eHarmony). The research found that couples who met online were less likely to divorce and experienced higher levels of marital satisfaction.

With those types of statistics and the overall grim nature of dating, why not take a chance to meet the love of your life on the Internet? We know first-time online daters may be skeptical. Keep a positive attitude and be prepared to face any of these online dating risks:

Exaggerated Online Identities

For some people, online dating websites are spaces to set the past right again and erase relationship mistakes. It’s a space where people want to appear as perfect as possible, from a Photoshopped portrait to a falsely crafted profile. Unfortunately, the disparity between an online dater’s perfect self and the real self is often so gaping that in-person dates can be disastrous, as you can read from some of our Peril of the Week stories or in my bestselling book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. Whether or not someone will live up to who they seem to be online is a gamble. Prepare yourself to take that chance and never let disappointment shatter your spirit.

Catfishing Victim

“Catfishing” is the act of creating a completely fictitious online persona (often via Facebook) to mislead or defraud others, according to LifeLock. It’s easy to get tricked into believing catfish are real, as they go to great lengths to develop fake profiles, including those with more than 300 friends and photographs to make it look real. Facebook photographs can easily be stolen from accounts of real people and falsely used on a catfish’s faux Facebook profile. To combat this:

  • Do a Google search on Facebook for photos, which could easily be stolen from others’ profiles
  • Do the same with a few distinctive phrases in the person’s profile bio. Perpetrators often have duplicate or near-duplicate profiles on multiple sites, each with a different picture or location
  • Fraud and identity theft aren’t the norm, but they happen. Limit how much personal information you share until you know you can trust your potential date.

Impossible Expectations

With so many dating sites and pages upon pages of singles’ profiles, it’s easy to maintain high standards and keep a mentality that, “someone better may be out there.” You should never have to settle for someone with whom you don’t have a connection, but focusing on trivial aspects of a person’s profile or appearance will only hinder your quest to find the one. Know your deal breakers?while keeping an open mind.

Also, understand that many online daters become addicted to the process and accustomed to easily disposing of people they’ve met. Make it a point not to take rejections personally. You can’t let your self-worth and confidence break down because of strangers over the Internet.

A Proper Profile

Have a friend or family member whom you can trust to look over your profile or allow us to create your Irresistible Profile to help you attract your dream date and to ensure that it accurately represents who you are. Honesty is the best policy, especially in regards to photos.Oprah.com’s “Tips for Successful Online Dating” recommends that online daters keep pictures “recent and real.” Posted pictures should be taken within the last six months and include both a headshot and full-body shot. Also, avoid pictures with props and try not to post pictures taken with other people.

At Cyber-Dating Expert, we believe in authenticity from the onset and wish you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.

Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and was an early adopter of online dating. She’s the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating and coaches singles on the dating scene. For more online dating advice,? follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Weekly Flirt newsletter.

The Perils of CyberDating and Online Dating Background Checks

cyber dating headshot1 150x150At least once a month I am contacted by someone in the media to talk about online dating safety. It’s a hot-button for me and I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that singles are safely looking for love online.

Over the weekend, The New York Times posted an article about the latest background check services available for online daters. The piece, written by Stephanie Rosenbloom, New Online-Date Detectives Can Unmask Mr. or Ms. Wrong, discussed a variety of services have popped up on the Internet to check out your date before you mate, or even before you click reply to his or her latest email.

Sites such as MyMatchChecker.com, ValiMate, Date Check make it easier to check out your date during the courting stages. One should realize that these services are not limited to online dating. You should use the same common sense methods for offline dating. The bottom line is, you should trust your intuition and take your time.

Still, the question is being asked of me on Twitter daily since the Times piece and subsequent follow up article on Forbes.com, The Perils of Online Dating and Talking About Broken Marriages with the New York Times posted by Kashmir Hill.

There’s a reason my book is titled, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. As a smart woman and successful Internet executive during the dotcom days, I was too busy to check out the man I married and later divorced. Had I done a background check on him, I would not have married him. It was time to turn lemons into lemonade and pay it forward.

So here is my take on To Check, or Not to Check your date out thoroughly in advance.

1. Do a simple Google search, but don’t discuss it on your first date.

2. Use your intuition and see if his or her stories add up. Do they work where they say they do? Do the communications via email and phone match up to who you believe you are scheduled to meet? If not, take a pass. There will always be another email in your inbox.

3. Go ahead and search if you must, but remember, not all of the information is always accurate.

4. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Everyone is bound to have something that doesn’t check out well. Perhaps he or she has bad credit due to the economy or a recent divorce. There’s no need to toss them out just yet if that is the case, but if you see a series of lawsuits piled up under his or her name, you might have reason to be concerned.

More women are in favor of doing a background check in advance of a first date to make sure he isn’t “Married,” or “Separated, Divorce Pending.” Finding out your date is a felon is something you must know, but worrying that each date could be with a felon will actually be counter-productive to your dating process.

Most men are worrying that the woman won’t look like her photos. Yes, men are visual. It’s at the top of their list.

As far as online dating sites being required to have a background search on each member, I am in favor of them providing the option for each member to do a background search from an outside company. My big concern is that if the information isn’t accurate, someone will blame the Internet dating site and more lawsuits will arise. I do believe each site should have an advice section on online dating safety. Whether commonsense or not, when it comes to matters of the heart, all bets are usually off when love and chemistry are involved. Better safe, than sorry.

I have contributed to the following online dating safety articles to help you feel safe at home, or at least on that first date. Feel free to read and comment.

ABC News – Should Online Dating Sites Be Required to Do Background Checks?

CBS News – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day

CNET – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day–Safely

Cyber-Dating Expert – 5 Online Dating Safety Tips

Cyber-Dating Expert - Tyra Banks on Online Dating

Cyber-Dating Expert – Cyberdating Safety Tips

eHow – Cyber Dating Safety

Examiner – How Safe is Your Date?

FOX News – Cyber Dating Safety

Genconnect TV – Online Dating Safety Tips (Vide0)

Huffington Post – Online Dater Convicted of Assault

Huffington Post - To Sext, or Not to Sext

John Tesh - Criminals Could Be on the Dating Websites You Join

PC World – How to Scope Someone Out Online

Sympatico.ca – How to Spot a Cyber Player

Sympatico.ca – Protect Yourself Against Cyber Dating Scams

The Smart and Pretty – The Perils of Cyber-Dating and How to Avoid Them

WPIX – Cyberdating Safety (Video)

Your Tango – 7 Signs He’s Dating You For Your Money

Dating Advice – Online Dating Safety Tips [Video]

If you’re thinking of trying online dating, there are several rules to follow when it comes to dating safely.


Remember, when you are meeting someone for the first time, to meet in a public place. Let a friend know where you are going and never give out your last name or home address. Practice these safe cyberdating tips and enjoy the experience. For more relationship advice, visit Genconnect TV

Leave a comment if you thought this video was helpful. We’d like to hear about your experiences with online dating.

Cyber Dating Safety Tips

?julieblog
Online dating can be fun. But don?t neglect safety and common sense when you try to hook up with a mate. At minimum, take caution in the following areas.

Protect Your Computer

Take care of your equipment and systems before you head out into the Internet realm. You need to have a firewall and anti-virus protection for your email and for when you search websites and interact online. At the bare minimum, you may want these two solutions that are offered at no charge to home computer users (i.e. not for commercial use):

Free Firewall Download: ZoneAlarm www.zonelabs.com
Free Anti-Virus Download: AVG Anti-Virus www.grisoft.com

Protect Yourself

Take care of yourself, too, by choosing appropriate dating sites. Seek and choose a reputable online dating service.? How? Begin by asking around with friends, neighbors, co-workers and others you may know who have tried online dating, and see which places they recommend. In addition, search ?online dating services? and keep a notebook of their URLs or website links, the fees, rules and regulations, complete contact information of each and any other useful information that spikes your interest. Then compare each place.? Try only those places where you feel safe. Avoid the others.

So take care. Arm your computer ? and yourself- with the correct tools and knowledge!