Not many social networking sites, message boards, blogs, internet dating sites, and other online resources that are used to connect people on the daily basis advertise the online safety issue. Some of them are used for online meet-ups only; some of them even result in face to face get-togethers. What all of these online services have in common is the risk of personal data exposure and abuse. How can you prevent this? This article will give you crucial advice on how to avoid problems that might arise from your communication with others on the Internet.
The first thing you should keep in mind is that people you’ve met online might not fbe who they say they are. A man in Belgium clearly ignored the potential danger, and after a set of conversations with someone who introduced herself as a single woman on Facebook, agreed on a real-world date. The single woman turned out to be a bit more masculine than he expected. Two criminals attacked him and took his keys. Before he reached the police, they managed to rob his flat and office.
Another very unfortunate story is from the U.S. More than 55 million American adults use online dating services or classifieds. Although Internet services make our life much easier and it helps us solve our problems faster as well, sometimes we should slow down and double check just in case. Unfortunately, there are people who are very capable of exploiting the trust we place in the Internet. The tragic case of Katherine Olson, who was brutally murdered after she answered an ad for a babysitter job on Craigslist, an Internet bulletin board, speaks for itself. Another one of the terrifying series is the case of Jeffrey Marsalis, who has been convicted of multiple rape, performed mainly on women he lured online.
Here is some advice for safely meeting people online:
Don’t Give Away Your Personal Information
It is quite common that Internet criminals spend quite some time on one victim. Thus, it is very important not to trust anyone with information about you — no matter how harmless he seems to be. Never share your address, phone number, banking or credit card information, driver’s license number, social insurance number, or any other sensitive data. Once you share these, you’re exposing yourself to the threat of information abuse. The least they can do is wipe your accounts clean, and in the worst case scenario, they might even physically harm you.
Make Sure a Third Person Knows Where You Are at All Times
If you decide to meet with your online acquaintance in person, make sure you tell a relative or friend whom you are meeting, where you are meeting, and when you expect to be back home, so they can check on you upon your arrival. You can even arrange to telephone or text message them at set times throughout the night so that they know you are all right. Start with a phone call before meeting someone in person. If you do exchange personal phone numbers, make sure to use caller ID.
The Importance of Meeting and Staying in a Public Place
The decision to meet with somebody you met online is not necessarily bad, just be careful not to invite them into your home. You never know who are you really inviting to visit your house. They could easily be robbers or other villains. Meeting in a public place gives you a secure background to get to know the person you’ve met.
Google Him/Her !
Google, Bing, Facebook, and any other social network or search engine can provide you with a great deal of information about a person. You can easily run the information they have given you through these channels.