Tips for safe online dating

Interacting with strangers through dating apps has created new safety concerns

HOUSTON – In the days approaching Valentine’s Day, many singles use dating apps in order to meet a potential love interest. But online dating can be a security risk if you don’t take the right precautions.

“It’s not like we are saying everybody is bad and everybody is out to hurt you, but there is definitely a percentage of it and a great way to gain access to people is through these apps, so people have to be aware,” said Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston, who is sharing important safety tips for dating in the online world.

Even if you are not dating, Mankarious said, it’s important to talk to young people in your family about the risks.  

“There are a lot to 18 to 24-years-olds who are trying to meet people online. You are no longer in school, you don’t meet people at the bar anymore, so they are on these apps and you got to be careful,” said Mankarious, who recommends never using any part of your real name in your profile name and to limit the amount of personal info you share in your profile

“You can share your hobbies and interest, that’s normal, like 'I like to go jogging.'  But you don’t say, ‘I enjoy jogging at Memorial park at 6 p.m. after work. You don’t need to put specific information about your work or school or any of that. Keep it vague,” Mankarious suggested.  

Once on a date with a person you met online, Mankarious advises to:

• Tell a friend beforehand -- where you’re going and who with.
• Ride separately
• Don’t drink to excess
• Do not disclose your work or home address
• Never provide personal information
• Always meet at a public location
• Leave a date when things appear to be strange or unusual
• Don’t be afraid to go to the bathroom and call for help.
• If you feel in danger, go to the restroom and out the back door.
• If you’re afraid for your life, call 911

To see more tips, check the video above.