7 Things You Should Never Put in Your Online Dating Profile

Heed these tips to stay safe online

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Online dating has moved into the mainstream, becoming a legitimate and convenient way to meet new people and perhaps start a meaningful relationship. But common-sense precautions are needed to protect yourself against identity theft, online scammers, and general creeps.

When venturing into the world of online dating, it's important to exercise good judgment, weed out the weirdos, and set yourself up for success. Here are seven things you should never post in your online dating profile.

Check the online dating site you're using for its built-in security features. For example, many sites let you turn off location tracking and instant messaging and allow you to block someone from contacting you.

Pictures With Embedded Geotags

Profile pics are important because you want to present yourself in the best possible light. But beware of broadcasting your physical location along with your online photograph. Location data embedded in photos as metadata can have unsettling privacy and security implications

A geotag is basically the GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken. Depending on your location settings, a geotag may have been recorded in your photo file. This data can be extracted by geotag-reading apps, potentially revealing your precise location.

Many dating sites strip geotags and location data from uploaded pics but it's best to remove the geotags yourself before uploading a picture to a dating site. Better yet, turn off this feature on your phone so your location is never recorded in the first place.  

Your Phone Number

While this seems like a no-brainer, many people still freely give out their phone number in their online dating profile. This is risky and dangerous. Not only could an unsavory individual freely contact you, but your phone number could be indexed by search engines, putting you in the crosshairs of spammers.

Most dating apps have in-app messaging, so there's no need to give out your phone number until you feel comfortable doing so.

A Google Voice phone number is an option for keeping your privacy while talking with a prospective love interest.

Your Address or Information About Where You Live

While you probably want to list the town you reside in, don't list your current location, and certainly don't list your address.

Many dating apps feature a location-based matching system that shows when a user is nearby. The problem with this feature is that it may also let the bad guys know when you are out of town, which is a great time to rob your empty house.

For the sake of caution, consider turning off your dating site's location-tracking feature.

Information About Where You Work

Mentioning your job and where you work may seem innocuous, but for creepers or scammers, this is valuable information. Not only does it assist a potential stalker, but it allows scammers to find out more about you via social media and search engines.

Hackers might use this information to target you for social engineering attacks or for competitive information-gathering purposes, as well.

It's also important not to immediately share places, such as restaurants and clubs, you normally visit, as well as your family members’ locations. Wait until you know someone better before revealing too much.

Photos of Your Family

Proud parents love to show off pictures of their kids, but an online dating site or app isn't the place to do this. Not only do your kids have a right to privacy, but showing pictures of your kids in your dating profile could put them at risk, as it links them with you. Disturbing trends such as "digital kidnapping," where scammers use photos of other people's kids for their own purposes, are another reason to leave your kids off your dating profile.

If you must post a family picture, blur out your kids' faces or crop them out of the picture entirely.

Your Primary Personal or Work Email Address

Never list your real email address in your dating profile, whether it's a personal address or a work address. Adding your real email address puts you at risk for spam, harassment, and phishing scams.

Use the dating site’s built-in messaging service or obtain a disposable email account or secondary email address just for dating purposes. 

Information About Your School

Stay vague when discussing your educational background. Whether you're currently in school or long graduated, adding information about the schools you attended opens the door for creepers and scammers to learn more about you, serving as a springboard into your social media accounts and other avenues of personal information.

Just as you should be careful with the information revealed in your dating profile, be extra cautious when evaluating the profiles of potential dates. Be aware of the red flags of online dating scams and protect yourself from becoming a target.