?Tis the season to hear some of your favorite holiday songs on the radio, have a full date-card, and enjoy this festive time. One of my favorite songs is Bruce Springsteen’s rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
It?s also a time to take inventory on your dating life, manage your digital reputation, and ask yourself, ?What information is on the Internet about me??
I can?t stress enough the importance of protecting your digital reputation. ?I’ve been impersonated twice already, so, when I was invited to lunch to learn about Michael Schultz?s new service, My Info Guardian, I was very interested to hear what their service could do to help singles date safely, while managing the fine balance of relevant data and minimizing financial or personal information.
Yes, I believe you should do a Google search on your date. Whether you decide to do so before or after a first date, I also think you should keep it to yourself.
Yes, I believe if someone was convicted of a federal crime, that you should know about it before getting involved.
Yes, I was happy that Match.com took the steps to search their members against the national sex offender registry to help singles date more safely.
However, I don?t believe that anyone browsing the world-wide-web should find your phone number, address, net worth, parking tickets, and other data that could put you at a safety risk or possibly steal your identity.
According to Schultz, ?Gone are the days where you had to know someone?s social security number to be a digital identity thief.?
You probably know that Facebook owns your data that you happily share on their social networking sites.? But did you know that many of the people search sites buy and sell your data? Without your knowledge, information is being sold. This is where MyInfoGuardian steps in. Their service will remove your listings from people search sites.
At the end of the luncheon, guests were given a complimentary membership to their service. I logged on and was stunned to find almost 40 sites that had information, including birthday, age, phone numbers, email, and more. If I want to be found by long-lost friends and relatives, I should be able to do so on my own. Facebook and Twitter are easy enough sites to connect with people of my past, present and future. I like controlling the content I post.
Should you want to know if you?re dating someone with a criminal record? Absolutely. That information cannot be removed from public records by this service. ?Do you want every date to know your home phone number and address? Probably not. If it?s a date-gone-bad, you don?t want him or her showing up on your doorstep.
MyInfoGuardian is now in the process of removing some of my data from these sites. I?ll let you know the results.? I wish you a very happy holiday filled with dating safely, both online and offline or wherever you may roam.
Julie Spira is an online dating expert and author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. Visit her at CyberDatingExpert.com for dating advice and follow her?@JulieSpira on Twitter and at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert
We’re jumping for joy at Cyber-Dating Expert Headquarters as we celebrate our IRRESISTIBLE anniversary all weekend long.
It’s been 3-years since we launched CyberDatingExpert.com as a site to help singles while dating in a Web 2.0 World. We’d like to thank you for helping us remain the #1 online dating expert site!
In honor of our birthday, we’d like to give you a gift to help you with your love life.
From Friday, October 14th through Sunday, October 16th, we will be giving our readers a free .pdf copy of our bestselling online dating book, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. Click here to reserve your copy.
In addition, we’ll be answering your dating questions for FREE all weekend long. So do take a moment and join in on the fun. If you have a dating dilemma, let us know!
Now for a few bragging rights and in case you missed some of our highlights, we’re sharing our year-in-review for you.
? Best Dating Blog Finalist
You voted for us for the best dating blog in the world and we became a finalist. Yes, there were thousands of votes and the competition was steep. CyberDatingExpert.com was a finalist in the 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards from About.com, a New York Times company. It’s with heartfelt thanks that we acknowledge your support.
In the News
From tips on using digital coupons on a date, online dating safety, breaking up in a facebook world, and our latest article on CNN, which was shared over 450 times on facebook, we were featured in many articles and programs about dating in a web 2.0 world. Our dating advice reached millions on multiple continents! ?Most of our media can be found in our press room. Here’s a sample of media outlets we’re so proud of being a part of this past year.
ABC TV, Ai inSite, Always New You, BBC, Bad Online Dates, Business 2 Community, CBS News, CNN, College Times, Columbia News Service, Cupid’s Pulse, Daily Buzz, Daily Kansan, Date Night Magazine, Dating Marketplace, Elle magazine, Examiner, Fabulous Living, Fast Company, First Wives World, Forbes, Forces PenPals, GalTime, GenConnect, Heartbeat Radio, Her Campus, Huffington Post, In York, JDate, John Tesh, KCSF, KFI Radio, KFWB Radio, KPSP-TV, KZSB Radio, Love to Know, Mancow Radio Show, MarketWatch, Match.com, Men’s Health, MSN Glo, NBC TV, North by Northwestern magazine, Pink Kisses, ?Pittsburgh Better Times, Planet Love Match, Power Connection show, Psychology Today, Redbook magazine, Romance Files, Safer Dates, She Knows, Single Edition radio, Single Minded Women, Singular City, The Joe Show, The Kilgore News Herald, The Look TV, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Times Herald, The Toronto Sun, TodayShow.com, Top 10 Blog, Uniquely You magazine, Wall Street Journal, WCHE Radio, WHK Cleveland, WLW Radio, Woman’s Day, Women’s eNews, Yahoo! Shine, and YourTango
In Real Life
I had the opportunity to meet many of you when I was a speaker at the Internet Dating Conference in Miami, 140 Conference in LA, West Hollywood Book Fair, as well as seeing you at BlogWorld, where I’ll be speaking about the Rules of Netiquette at 1:45pm on Friday, November 4th this year in Los Angeles.
During the past year, YourTango came to my home to shoot several dating advice videos for their Ask the Expert and He Said/She Said series. I was joined by colleagues Charles J. Orlando and Adam Sheck for the guys point of view.?In case you missed them, here’s a list of videos for your viewing pleasure.
- Cell Phone Netiquette: Help My Boyfriend Won’t Put His Cellphone Away
- Should You Google a First Date?
- Can a Couple Get Past Infidelity?
- Should a Woman Propose to a Man?
- When Should You Change Your Facebook Relationship Status?
- Should You Kiss on the First Date?
Online Dating Minute Videos
Our Online Dating Minute featured social dating site Jazzed, which you can now see on the dating TV show Excused, as well as Match.com’s study about the relationship between dating and money, and more.
Top 10 Mobile Dating Apps
Back by popular demand and in conjunction with Social Media Week, we announced the Cyber Dating Expert Top 10 Mobile Dating Apps for 2011. According to Comscore, over 14 million people worldwide are now using mobile dating apps. They are now more popular than web dating on your computer. Why wait until you get home??It’s time to start dating on your cell phone. We included the super eHarmony iPad App, which ranked high on our list for iPad. View our post to see all the features of our favorites this year.
Online Dating Safety
We tackled a subject that breaks my digital heart, online dating safety. I was interviewed by ABC News, KESQ-TV, KPSP-TV, Online Dating Awareness, Sympatico.ca, ?The Sudbury Star, and Your Tango.
?Your Online Dating Stories
We’ve enjoyed working with singles looking for love online and have created irresistible profiles all year long. Contact us if you’d like to find the man or woman of your dreams!
It started out as an email sent from a man in New York who was a member of a popular online dating site. The recipient, an attractive intelligent single female shared the introductory email with some of her friends on Facebook, myself included. She wanted to know if she should go out with the man with the red flags. At first she thought it was hilarious. I told her not to go. Her curiosity got the best of her, so without further adieu, here’s an example of a date destined to go bad.
His first email appeared to be a ‘cut and paste’ to many filled with a negative attitude. It read as follows:
“This may sound rude/odd but…what’s wrong with you? I have found there has to be a catch if I come across a cute, seemingly intelligent, well manner girl on this site.”
“I have tried this online dating thing for a while and to be honest… IT SUCKS!!!
“In the last month or so, I have been: stood up three times, canceled on at the last minute, met a girl who started to make out with another random guy at the bar while I watched, found out mid-date that the girl was inky 21 when her profile said she was 29, had a girl tell me how she is still in love with her ex, been told the day after a first date that she was getting back with her fiancé, but would love to use me for sex and my favorite…told that I was part of a “30 dates with 30 guys in 30 days” dare and that I had no shot. Fun times, right?????
“Now…based on the fact that you seem pretty awesome and the fact that I am apparently not cool enough to have plans on what should be a beautiful Friday night…How would you feel about being totally spontaneous and meeting me this evening? (who knows we might even like each other and get to make out?)”
“Now, I know you may want to email back and forth for days and then build up all this excitement hoping you found “the one”…but…I have found that usually leads to disappointment and then possibly therapy and sadness, right? Let’s skip all that nonsense and meet right away…OK? It will save us the let-down in the long run.”
“Now if you call/text/email, we can have possibly the blindest of dates…(assuming you don’t stand me up) or we can flirt via text from now until we do meet and build up expectations. Your choice, but first, please warn me about what is wrong with you so I know going into this that there will be little surprise! ;-)”
With an email like this, I would have done one of two things. Either deleted it without response and forgotten about it, or send an email saying ‘No thank you. Best of luck with your search.’
Comments from her friends included, “Just be careful” to “This is hilarious. Go and report back to us.” I explained that it was a mass email sent to many other women and told her not to go. Online dating safety is a hot button for me. I had a bad feeling about this from reading just the first sentence of his email. I thought she should use her time wisely and find a man who is positive, emotionally healthy and worthy of her. I told her to do her homework, Google his email and phone number to find out more about him if she really wanted to pursue this. I had a bad feeling. I was told that I was too serious and that this was hilarious.
She did indeed go on a date with him, which was a disaster. She said she should have known that he was going to be crazy. After resfusing to tell him where she worked or lived, he left her in the bar. That would have been fine if it was over, but it wasn’t. He started to send her mean and nasty text messages. She asked him not to contact her again, and he said ‘no.’
Not only does this date qualify for The Peril of the Week, but it’s a warning message to spot the red flags and remember how to date safely. Don’t give out your home or work address, create a separate phone number on Google voice so you can change it if you continue to get harassed by a date gone badly, and trust your intuition. Listen to your friends if they are concerned about you. There are many wonderful singles looking for love online, but if you come across a situation or profile like this, report it to the Internet dating site you met on.
Do you have an online dating story to share?
Send your submissions and like us at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert
In an interview on KPSP, Channel 2 in Palm Springs, I spoke with Arti Nehru about my top online dating safety tips and advice for cyberdating safety.
Here are some of the tips we discussed:
- Remember to meet in a public place.
- Let a friend know where you’re going and who you plan on meeting
- Don’t give out your last name, address, or phone number
- Sign up for Google voice and have your calls forwarded to your cell phone.
- If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, just leave
Online dating safety is important for singles looking for love on the Internet. We all want to find love, and usually the sooner, the better. What if you could have one phone number devoted exclusively to dating? Would you be more likely to be handing out your calling card?
If you?re hesitant to give out your home or cell phone number to someone who you?ve only corresponded via email with, you should be right. But there are several options to maintain your privacy while still scheduling dates on your calendar.
For my dating coaching clients, I often recommend that they sign up for a Google Voice account. Using Google Voice is free and is simple to use.
To get started, visit Google.com/voice to set up your account.? The simplest way is to link your cell phone number so you can receive calls while you?re out and about. You?ll have the opportunity to select a custom phone number from several choices. Go ahead and reserve one for dating purposes. Take it one step further and order a social calling card with your new unique dating phone number on it.
Once you select your phone number, you?ll have the opportunity to record your name. I suggest using just your first name. Let him hear your voice and know you aren?t just a voicemail service.
You should record an outgoing greeting as well. Google will magically call your cell phone number and allow you to record your message. The good news is your inbound messages can be transcribed to you and received via text. If you?d like to screen your calls, Google voice provides this service as well. ?I advise singles to have this deactivated, as it could be a deterrent to having someone actually complete the call and leave you a message. You can always turn it on at a future time.
Do you only want to receive calls from your dates during specific times? No problem. Google voice lets you control weekday and weekend calls as well as the times you?d like your phone to ring. Otherwise, the messages will go to your Google voicemail box.
Still confused? Contact us at CyberDatingExpert.com/contact and we?d be happy to help you date safely on the Web.
If you get a moment, we’d love it if you’d Like us at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert
At 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
Online dating is a fun and flirty way to meet a lot of people. If you’re ego has recently been bruised from a breakup or you just haven’t been in a relationship for awhile, before you get started, read my Top 5 cyberdating safety tips to make sure you’re dating safely while looking for love online.
1. Always meet in a public place. Having a home cooked candlelight meal may seem romantic on the phone or in a text message, but in real-life, you may be headed towards the bedroom prematurely. Whether it’s coffee, lunch, or a walk in the park, pick a place where others will see you. If you need to yell for help, you’ll have the chance to be heard.
2. Don’t give out your home phone number. Phone numbers can easily be traced to your home addresses. If your date goes south, the last thing you want is to have a stalker at your door. Give out your cell phone number and keep your exact home address to yourself until you get to know your date better.
3. Don’t talk about finances. Conversations with someone you are meeting for the first time should be light and friendly. Don’t reveal banking information or let them know if you are about to receive a large bonus or an inheritance or you might find your date has ulterior motives.
4. Get your friends involved. Create a buddy system where you always tell a friend who you are going out with on a first date. Provide the screen name, site you met your date on, and the name of the restaurant. Check in with your friend during the date. Let them know you are fine, or if you are uncomfortable, just leave. You don’t need to explain why you are leaving.
5. Trust your intuition. Your instincts are usually good. If someone is changing plans last minute and suggests a late night date or convinces you to meet at their home, take a rain check.
These online dating safety tips are mostly common sense, but sometimes your judgment can be impaired when you’re thrilled with the excitement of your new date.
Apply these rules to those you meet offline as well. Don’t get caught up in the romance and end up in trouble. You really don’t know who is hiding behind their computer screen.
Listen to Ask the Cyber-Dating Expert Radio Show where Julie Spira spoke with Tasha Cunningham, founder of DontDateHimGirl.com.
Tasha’s dating advice book was inspired by her frustration of reading books on how women need to change to find a man and realized that the women needed to change to become more confident for themselves.
Tasha recommends you create the Don’t Date Him Girl list, where you identify 5 things about the past 5 relationships to see what your dating patterns and what you didn’t like about each of these relationships.
We talked about online dating safety and how to protect your Internet identity by doing your homework and research before getting too emotionally involved.
Learn about the ten-step guide to help you get your “brokenhearted butt” in gear and break your addiction to bad boyfriends while looking for love online.
Say Goodbye to your Online Date
I received an email in my Inbox today from JDate?, the largest online dating site for Jewish singles ?announcing their new all-block feature. The email simply said, “JDate’s Got Your Block.” It was a catchy email and got my attention.
Now at the bottom of each online dating profile on their site, you have the ability to say goodbye forever to the bad date or former beau who broke your heart while looking for love online.
Since cyberdating safety is such a hot issue now, I think this is a great move from JDate. It’s simple to use and not much different than Facebook’s blocking feature. If you want to block someone for inappropriate behavior or someone you simply don’t want to have looking at your personal and online identities, here’s instructions on how to block your date:
1. You pull up a profile of someone you are interested in blocking.
2. At the bottom of the profile, it will say Report a Concern and the word Block.
3. Click on Block and a drop down menu will appear with the choice of:
- Block member from?contacting?you
- Block member from?appearing?in your search results
- Block member from?viewing your profile?in his/her search results
4. Click Submit and you’re done.
Voila! You have erased that person from your search and from contacting you, should you desire.
Should you use their blocking features? I think it’s terrific that you are given a choice of options. ?From putting one toe in to the entire 10, the selection is up to you.
Naturally, the person you have blocked may realize you have done so, but dating should be about a matter of choice. If you’re uncomfortable, then go ahead and block someone. If you want to leave the door open for future communication, then I suggest you don’t block him or her. They won’t be happy to see you have done so.
For those who haven’t been able to get over their ex and are obsessively looking at their profile, this feature is for you.
At the end of the day, you’ll want to enjoy your experience and find someone to meet online rather than spend time on deciding which profiles you should block.
Will you use their blocking feature? Comments are always appreciated.
Note: Screen shot taken from my personal profile on JDate’s site
Interested in trying JDate? Click here to join