Dipping your foot into the dating pool can be fun and exciting, especially when meeting someone for the first time. With that said, it is very important to take precautions both online and offline to ensure your safety and security. It can be easy to throw caution to the wind due to the excitement of dating, and that is where people can end up in trouble. We at Harvard Magazine are here to help. We strongly encourage you to read and follow the tips below. We don’t want you to feel paranoid, and these tips are not meant to scare you. It’s important to remember to be cautious though, especially in these times of increased online fraud as well as vulnerability you may feel, especially if you have not dated in quite some time or dating is new territory for you. We want to ensure that you use common sense, especially when you are talking to or meeting someone for the first time.
1. Don’t share personal information on first contact. Never give out your full name, home address, personal e-mail address, or phone number to people you do not know. You can get free e-mail accounts from services like Gmail, Outlook.com and many other sources. Choose a username that is generic and does not include any personal information such as your name, birthdate, address, kids’ names, city you live in, etc. Harvard Magazine offers (snail mail) HM Boxes to our clients for a fee of $25. For more information, please contact 617-496-6686. See our blog post on how to create a free e-mail address.
2. Protect yourself financially. Never share financial information with people you don’t know. Examples include credit card numbers, bank information, usernames or passwords, or your social security number. Ignore any requests asking you to wire money and report those to us at classifieds[at]harvard [dot] edu or by calling 617-496-6686.
3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be very cautious of any communication you receive asking you to act immediately, asking for personal information, or sounding too good to be true. Examples may be:
*Someone claiming to be from the U.S. but is traveling, living or working abroad;
*Claiming to be very recently widowed, divorced, or separated;
*Asking you for money;
*Talking about “destiny” or “fate” especially on first contact;
*Asking for your address under the guise of sending you a present, flowers or a package
*Correspondence containing grammar and spelling mistakes;
*Correspondence containing strange links, inappropriate or harassing photos or language.
If you receive suspicious correspondence, please report those instances to us at classifieds[at]harvard [dot] edu or call 617-496-6686.
Offline tips for first dates:
1. Get to know someone a bit before you set up a first date. You can use Google or other search engines to get information on people. If you wish to do a background check on someone before you meet, there are websites that allow you to access that information for a fee.
2. ALWAYS meet in a public place for your first date. Meet at a restaurant, a museum or another populated, public place. Do not meet in a remote location or at your date’s home or your home on your first date. At the end of the date, do not invite your date back to your home or go to their home. If someone is pressuring you to do so, leave immediately.
3. Tell friends/family about your date. Make family or friends aware of your whereabouts, and make sure you take your mobile phone with you in case of emergency.
4. Don’t overindulge in alcohol. Stay sober, clear headed and don’t put yourself in a position where your judgement is impaired.
5. Transport yourself to and from the first date. Drive yourself to and from your first date, take public transportation, have a friend drive you or take a taxi. Be in control of your own ride.
6. Keep personal items with you at all times. Keep your purse, wallet, bag near you at all times. Keep your drink with you or finish it if you need to excuse yourself in order to avoid it being tampered with.
7. Long distance meetings. Stay in a hotel and do not reveal the location to your date. Arrange your own transportation to and from the date and to and from the airport if you are flying to a destination. Do not invite your date back to your hotel room after the date and do not go to your date’s home or hotel room after the date. Make sure your family and friends know where you are.