Nowadays, the Internet is probably the fastest and easiest place to meet people. Whether you’ve bonded with a long-distance friend over a mutual interest or you simply want to meet up with a cute date in person, you need to exercise caution. There have been countless horror stories of people who thought they were meeting their friend or lover, but it was actually a total stranger.
To stay safe, follow these tips before meeting an online friend in person:
Confirm Their Identity
“Catfishing” has been so popular these days that there’s even a TV show about it. On the Internet, people will pretend to be someone else to scam and trick other people. They want to gain your trust so you’ll be willing to give them money. With a reverse directory, you can look up your online friend by name, phone number, or address. If their information matches up with what they’ve told you, they’re probably a real person. Otherwise, it’s wise to cut ties and move on.
Don’t Share Your Personal Information
When you feel like you really connect with someone, it can be hard to hold back. But you shouldn’t let a stranger on the Internet know everything about you. Refusing to give out your address, phone number, and last name can protect you in the long-run. Internet criminals use this information to track you down and stalk you in person. There are also scammers who might try to steal your money or identity. Keep your information out of the hands of people who are out to hurt you.
Trust Your Gut Instinct
If you’re getting weird vibes before meeting an online friend, there’s probably a legitimate reason for that. Do you have fun conversations most of the time, but every so often they’ll say something that makes you feel uncomfortable or pressured? It might be best to move on. A friend or significant other should make you feel happy and safe, not anxious.
Plan To Meet In A Public Place
So, you’ve done all this investigative work and your date’s identity checks out. You’ve also really gotten to know them over the past few weeks or months. Maybe you want to finally meet that special someone in person. The safest way is to meet up with them at a public place, such as a coffee shop or a mall. You won’t have to give out your home address and you’ll be surrounded by other people. Also, be sure to tell a friend where you’re going and who you’re meeting. They can help you come up with an exit plan if things go south.
Meeting new people is exciting, but unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy. These four simple tips should help you while you’re looking for friendship and love on the Internet. And who knows? You might even end up meeting an online friend who becomes a lifelong companion.
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