Online Dating: Staying Safe this Valentine’s Day
February 11, 2022
With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s important to practice safety if you plan to meet an online date in person for the first time. Here are a few reminders to follow to keep yourself safe after you swipe right.
Meet in a public place: Avoid meeting someone in a private location such as a home or apartment for your first date. Don’t feel obligated to travel a significant distance and set your meeting location up ahead of time. Select a time of day to meet that you are most comfortable with. Be sure to be responsible for your own transportation as well, so you’re able to leave at any point if you feel uncomfortable.
Keep an eye on your drink: If you meet your date in person at a restaurant or bar, be sure to keep a close eye on your drink. This will help prevent someone from spiking it, or putting drugs or alcohol in your cup without you knowing. You can also cover your drink with a napkin. If you suspect someone put something in your drink, you should immediately tell someone, such as the bartender or waitress.
Wait to share personal information: Always protect yourself and your identity when dating online. Personal information can include your social security number, credit card details, bank information, and your work or home address. If someone asks for money even after you’ve been speaking to them for a long time, do not feel obligated to give it to them. It still may be a scam.
Tell a friend where you’re going: Take a screenshot of your date’s profile and send it to your friend. You can also share the location of the date with your friend so someone else knows where you are. A great resource to download is the SafeMSU App, with one of the key features being the virtual friend walk. This function allows someone to share their location with a friend in real-time so they can follow their progress to their destination. The friend can also contact police immediately if they feel there is a problem.
Look up your potential date on other social media sites: Look up (or ask for) your potential date’s other social media accounts. If you are able to find multiple accounts with multiple photos of the person, this could reduce your chance of getting catfished.
Protect yourself from online extortion: If someone asks you to engage in nudity or sexual activities via online video, they could be trying to coerce you into sexual exploitation. If this happens, you can end the call immediately and report and block the user.
Avoid connecting with suspicious profiles: If a person you connected with has only one or no photo, no connected social media accounts, and limited information on their profile, the account might be fake. Consider learning more information before meeting in person.
Block and report suspicious users: It’s always possible for people to misrepresent themselves. If you feel a user is suspicious, you can block them anonymously before or after you’ve matched.
Trust your instincts: If at any point you don’t feel safe during your date, trust your instincts and feel free to cut communication with whoever is making you feel unsafe. Remember, you can always unmatch, report, or block your match after meeting them in person as well.
If you experience concerning behavior, sexual assault, or violence while dating or at any other time, the MSU Police and Public Safety Special Victims Unit has resources to help. You are not alone. A list of resources can be found here.
In addition, MSU Police and Public Safety can be contacted anytime by calling 517-355-2221 or 9-1-1 for emergencies.
Dana Whyte, Communications Manager, MSU Police and Public Safety
Inspector Chris Rozman, Public Information Officer, MSU Police and Public Safety