Internet, Networking, & Security Around the Web Security Tips for Online Dating Don't let the quest for love stop you from using common sense By Andy O'Donnell Writer Andy O'Donnell, MA, is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire and a senior security engineer who is active in internet and network security. our editorial process Andy O'Donnell Updated July 29, 2019 Dimitri Otis / Getty Images Around the Web How to Get a VPN Tweet Share Email The online dating world can be both an exciting and scary place at the same time. You want to "put yourself out there" while also not risking your personal safety or your privacy. It seems like a difficult balancing act, too much information being shared might help someone steal your identity, while too little might make you an unappealing dating prospect. Let's look at some online dating security and safety tips: Take Advantage of the Security Features Offered By Your Online Dating Service The online dating site you use will likely have some built-in security features that you can choose to take advantage of. Besides the ability to block someone from contacting you, many dating sites also feature the ability to turn off instant messages, location tracking, etc. Check the privacy settings page on your dating website of choice to see what settings are available. Proxy Your Phone Number So you've made a "connection" with someone online and you want to move things forward. You want to give them your phone number but you're afraid to. How can you give them a number for them to text and call you at without giving out your real number? Enter: The Google Voice Proxy Phone Number. You can obtain a Google Voice phone number for free and then have it route calls and texts to your real cell phone number. The person on the other end only sees your Google voice number (if you've set things up correctly). Use a Disposable Email Address for Dating-related Emails You'll likely become bombarded with dating-related emails. Many dating sites will send you a message every time someone views your profile, "winks" at you, sends you a message, likes your profile picture, etc. These messages can add up quickly. Consider obtaining a separate email address to direct all your dating mail to so you don't have to sift through it. Remove Geotag Information From Photos Before Sending or Posting Them When you take "selfies" with your cell phone camera, you not only take a picture of yourself but if your phone is configured to allow location tagging, then the geolocation where you took the picture also gets recorded in the picture's metadata. You can't see this location in the picture itself, but there are applications that can read and display this metadata for other people to see. You may want to strip out this location information before you upload your pictures to a dating site, or send them to a potential date. Your dating site of choice may strip out this location data automatically for you, but it's best to be safe and either not record it in the first place or to remove it with a EXIF metadata privacy app that can strip out the location information for you. Beware of Location-Aware Dating Apps Many dating sites now have companion apps available for your smartphone that augment or duplicate the functionality of their websites. These apps can offer location-aware features to help others know where you are for meetups and other purposes. The problem is that some users may not realize that this information is being provided and listed for others to view. This could present a problem if a criminal finds out your home address and is then able to tell if you are there or not by looking at your current location information on the dating site. It's probably best to turn off the location-aware features of your dating app, especially if they post your location to the site for others to view.