The following will be broken up into Categories to make it much easier to read. Some of it you’re going to read and think “that’s a tab paranoid” but do think about what I say and remember digging for data is what I do for a living and I’ve lived and played in the world of high security so I might sound paranoid but I guarantee you have no idea how easy it is to find you from really simple profile mistake people make.
Category 1 – Staying Safe
- Don’t use you real name or abbreviations of it on you profile: sounds simple but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget this when you’re stressed and trying to think of a USERNAME. Its also easy to forget how many people can view the information on your profile. It also is surprisingly easy to plug someones name into Google and find out a huge amount of information on them, don’t believe me plug your own name into Google and see what pops up you might be surprised (or horrified) at what comes up. I once had a guy I ran into in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane call me by my profile name and offer to buy me a coffee because he recognised me from my profile photo and I had no idea who this guy was. When I went home and looked him up (I asked for his profile name over coffee) turns out he was on my BLOCK list for dead creepy messages he’d sent me.
- Your Profile Photos – check any photo you are going to put up for information that can be gathered about you from what’s in the photo. Normally we’re so worried about what we look like in our profile pics we forget how much information can be in a photo that gives away information about us. The local tourist attraction in the background, the university t-shirt you’re wearing, your personalised number plate, the photos of your kids in school uniform on the wall, the sporting trophy on the shelf and so on all give clues as to where you live and your life style or interests all of which makes it rather easy to ask you “targeted questions” to narrow down where to find you and what can be used as hook to pull you into a scam or worse make you a potential victim.
- Kids Picks – NEVER EVER put your child/children’s photos up even if you look like the most amazing yummy mummy or worlds best single dad in the photo don’t use it. If god forbid some sex offender with a preference for kids is looking for a new victim you by accident might have just turned your family into their new target and remember not all sex offenders are guys. Unfortunately most online sites don’t have the capacity to screen for criminals as they are relying on the information someone provides to be honest and accurate and even if they did run everyone through some “criminal record” program there is a high probability that someone using this method to find victims doesn’t have a criminal record.
- Their Profile Photos: If you are actually interested in someone or even think oh maybe very carefully look at what is in all their photographs. If they’ve ticked “single” look at their fingers is there a wedding ring or tell tail tan line from where they took the ring off right before taking the photo. Is there photos of their wedding on the wall behind them, did they say no tattoos but the photo of the model they used has tattoos, if they say they are in the UK Army why does the photo of them have them in a US Marine Corps Uniform, they say they are 40 and their profile pic is of someone in their 20s and so on. Generally if the information on their profile doesn’t match the information in their photos (and do look at all photos provided) then they are either a Scammer or adulator.
- e-mail – before creating a profile go create a free g-mail or yahoo account and make sure it ends in .com not .com.au or whatever the suffix for your country is. WHY? Mainly it gives you an added level of security and makes it far harder if you do get to the point of swapping e-mails to locate you.
- Phone: Never give anyone your landline number EVER because that will lead them right to your house unless you have a silent number. As for mobile/cell phones if you do decide to give it to someone don’t include the country code and see what happens. 99% of scammers are not going to be in the same country as you so minus the country code they can’t call or text you and you know they don’t as they said live in the same country as you. If you do get a call listen very carefully to the voice because if they told you they come from Perth and have a British accent or Nigerian accent you’re gong to hopefully go “hmmmmm possible scammer”
- Google it: as soon as someone sends you an e-mail address or phone number copy it and plug it into Google. You will be surprised about the amount of information that simple piece of information can be linked to. If they are known Scammer chances are there will be some pissed off x-victim ranting about it and giving details of their Modus Operandi.
Category 2: Site Advice – read the small print
- Read Everything: Before you go ahead and plug in your credit care details read the fine print. In the sign up and pay section they will give you the basic information of what your membership entitles you to but it doesn’t list the small shit and terms & conditions can lock you into some nasty surprises
- Automatic Rollover Payments: by giving them your credit card details you’ve just authorised them to bill you even after your membership is up because you didn’t cancel your membership the right way or in the required time frame
- Suspension Rules: if you suspend your account or are suspended by them for bad behaviour are you still going to be billed for a service you’re not using
- Automatic Increase Payments: Once your On Sale membership runs out you’ve agreed that they can then bill you at a higher rate until such time as you realise it and attempted to cancel your membership
- Automatic Extension of Membership: If you don’t cancel your membership in the right way in the correct timeframe you’ve just automatically re-signed up for x-months membership
- Deletion of Account & Billing: Check how many days before your next billing date you must give notice that you wish to have your Account Deleted and Bill Payments Stopped chances are it’s about 7 days but I did see one site that had a 14 day policy and if you missed that date they billed you even though your account was deleted. Also check how you must notify them because just going in and DELETING ACCOUNT from the App on your iPhone/iPad/Computer may not actually be how you have to notify for Bill Payments to be stopped, some companies require you to go onto their website and fill in a form only accessible on their site not via the App to do this.
- Removal From All Devices: Chances are if you have like me an iPhone, iPad and MacBook that whatever App you downloaded has found it’s way onto all your devices. Make sure if you’ve deleted you account from the App you then delete the APP from all devices because if you accidentally log back into the App on one of your devices you might have just reactivated your account.
- Time For Deleting: Most Apps or websites take 48 to 72 hours to delete your profile and if you accidentally log in or try to create a new account in that time frame (even a free one) it’s automatically reactivate your old profile and start billing you again.
- Permanent Deleting: eHarmony and a couple of the other sites have what they call profile retention so even if you delete your account they don’t actually remove it totally they put it in “Suspension” and should you then go back to create a new profile they simply reactivate your existing profile to save you time an energy. However if you were a paying customer the site might also have an reactivation of payment tick box and if you tick it just to get it off the screen you’ve just authorised them to start billing you again.
- Free Profile Creation: if they have a free profile creation then yes they have to let you create a profile absolutely free, however that is all they are legally required to do. For you to send messages, receive messages, view others profiles, see who’s viewed your profile etc you must become a PAYING member.
Category 3: Profile Etiquette (does and don’ts)
- Pictures: Pick ones that you look good in, however don’t use ones that are unrealistic or really really old. If you’re now 40 and a little less perfect than you were as a swimsuit model in your 20s put up the photos of you as you are now not the cover photos that are 20 years old. If you don’t like any photo taken of you in the last 20 years either go have some really good professional photos taken or maybe don’t go down the dating path but work on turning yourself into someone you love.
- Information: Be specific about what you’re really like as a person and what you’re really after it makes it far less painful than having to get ride of 40 unwanted messages from people who are so not your type. I used to have this thing that it would seem rude if I picked things like he has to be Caucasian, over 6f tall, highly educated, employed, living in Australia etc until I had to get ride of something like 90 messages from guys in Egypt, Africa, Middle East and what not looking for a visor sponsor victim rather than really interested in me at which point my housemate told me I was to nice and to be ruthless after all this was my perfect guy I was looking for I was allowed to be picky.
- Dirty Requests & Genital Shots are a NO NO: If I’ve just met you I don’t want to see pictures of your genitals nor do I want in depth details of how you’d like be screw my brains out or any thing else. Also NO I am not going to give you tit or twat picks or describe my fav sexual position for feeling myself up. Have some dignity and class people if you’re after a quickie/one night stand pick-up than go find an App that is for that use (try Skout, it’s apparently the straight Grindr according to one slut I know). If you’re on a dating site act like you’re a decent human with table manners and at least appear to be looking for a girl you can take to meet your grandmother. Heres a hint before taking that crotch shot and sending it with a “wana suck this big boy” message think how revolted your mother or sister would be getting that because for all you know you just sent it to them.
- Be Real: don’t tell people what you think they want to hear be realistic. If you’re a plumber, office admin, professor of Physics then be that person because if you do end up meeting someone nice and move onto actual in person dates if you’ve told them you’ve traveled the world, speak 3 languages fluently, surf like a pro and love nature when in reality you hate nature, never go to the beach and have never left the town you live in chances are it’s not going to take long for them to realise it and dump your ass. Plus you’ve just added to their every one lies to me I’ll never find an honest boy/girl to date mindset.