by Kathy Marlor
In this day and age of technology and limited time, more and more of us who are single, will turn to online dating to try to find someone special.
The challenge with online dating is that someone can say anything to lure you in- whether it’s true or not, and may not necessarily be the person in the photos that they posted. You can be virtually anyone online by typing up some clever lines and grabbing some good looking pix to upload.
So how in the world can you be sure who you’re talking to is really who you think it is? The first step is to listen to your gut instinct, if something doesn’t seem quite right- it’s probably not. From there you may have to put on your online investigator hat and do some research. For now, check out the following common warning signs:
Online Dating Warning Sign #1: Their profile is very well written but their communication skills with you are the pits. Have you ever run across a profile that is masterfully written, so much so, that even a member of the grammar police would be proud of it? It says just the right things that you want to hear in the right places and they must possess the Master’s degree they claim to. But… wait a minute… when they communicate with you through IM or text, they use text shorthand, misspell words, improper grammar, etc; and it doesn’t even seem to be the same person. What’s up with that?
It may be that they were just putting their best foot forward in the written portion of their profile or had it professionally written from a questionnaire they filled out…or they may have copy and pasted it from someone else’s profile and it’s not really theirs.
Online Dating Warning Sign #2: They only want to Instant Message or have a Google phone number to mask their “real number.” Someone who doesn’t want you to really know who they are may ask you to IM with them on a service like Yahoo. There’s nothing wrong with Instant Messaging to start; but if they want to IM as their only form of communication, that should set off a red flag. With a “real” email address, you can search and get their IP address to verify their location and make sure it matches where they say they live. You should be able to Google search using their phone number to also verify the location and make sure they are being truthful.
Someone who doesn’t want you to have their “real info” that could be traced to prove their location is probably up to no good, don’t you think?
Online Dating Warning Sign #3 The person you’re chatting with is giving you conflicting stories. There is an old saying “You don’t have to remember the truth.” This means that if you ask someone the same question, you should get the same honest answer. Recently, someone told me that they were Catholic; I thought “That’s strange, their profile says Protestant.” It could be that when filling out their profile, they selected the wrong box- but either way that set off my b.s. alert that something may not be quite right. Keep your ears open and listen to make sure everything seems consistent with their profile and past conversations.
Online Dating Warning Sign #4 The person you’re interested in has given you their name, location and profession, phone number and you can’t validate or verify any of the information. With all the social media sites, business web sites, LinkedIn, Manta, etc. you would think that you’d be able to find them in at least a few Google search results, wouldn’t you? If someone says they are a successful artist for example, but there is nothing about them online with their name, location and at least a few pix of their work, I would be suspicious. Are their giving you a fake name, location, etc; and why?
Online Dating Warning Sign #5 They want more pix, info about you or a web cam chat but don’t have more pix to share, can’t seem to get their web cam to work, lol. When someone is fishing or phishing for more information about you but won’t reciprocate, that’s a warning sign. Sure, they could be a harmless control freak, or may be gathering all the info they can to charm you, win you over and then hit you up for money, or more. If someone wants you to chat via web cam, insist that they do it to, or if they want more info or pix of you, ask for the same. After all, if they are honest and legit, fair is fair right?
There are additional warning signs that can come up. These are just a handful of them. Just remember the rule of thumb is if something doesn’t make sense or seem right, it may not be.
If you suspect that someone may be a fake, or may be dishonest there are a few simple resources you can use to protect yourself from these type of people.
First, make Google your best friend and search their screen name, IM name, or anything else they give you to contact them. Check out dating scam web sites and see if they are listed or if their dating pitch sounds awfully familiar to any listed.
Second, use the Google Image Search to verify that the pix you’re drooling over don’t belong to any
Google will return search engine images that seem similar of that will match it. If your hottie you’ve been speaking to now appears to have the same face as a celebrity or other popular person, you’ll know you probably have an imposter. Voila! (I’ve caught three people using images that were not of themselves recently using this tool…gotta love it).
Last, once you have their email address you can send them an email and if you get one in return from them you can run it through a IP Address Search engine that you can find online, for free. Search: Get IP address with email and you’ll come up with a variety of web sites that will allow you to do so or that tell you how to find it within the email that you get from them.
You can also search for any key words they use like their screen name or name they’ve given through web sites like http://stop-scammers.com (for female dating scammers) or http://www.male-scammers.com (for male dating scammers).
By taking care to listen to your gut and to do some light private detective work online, you can help ensure that you’re speaking to the person you think you are, and if not, find out early on so you don’t waste a lot of time with them or become a victim of a crime.