Now you know what OkCupid is and how it works, and how much it can cost you, so it’s time we explain the safety concerns that online dating websites pose to users. Online dating sites are a great way to instantly connect with people in your area, and the science behind them has come a long way to ensure you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
However, dating (especially online), can pose threats to your privacy, and sometimes pose emotional or physical danger. It's important to always be cautious when connecting with potential romantic partners online, and this guide will help to make sure you are keeping yourself safe while exploring OkCupid.
How safe is OkCupid?
OkCupid is as safe as many other popular dating applications and websites such as eHarmony.com. OkCupid is designed to make quick connections with matches in your area, while focussing on compatibility. OkCupid’s privacy depends on your personal settings, so it is your responsibility to set these once you join OkCupid.
Like many other dating websites, OkCupid’s safety is largely dependent on how diligently you can follow reasonable precautions when dealing with the people whom you communicate with and take out on dates.
Top 5 OkCupid safety tips
1. Protect your personal and financial information.
Never include your social security number, credit card information, or other banking information in your OkCupid profile, and remember that OkCupid will never ask you for this information, unless you voluntarily choose to upgrade your OkCupid account. Never give any of this information out to OkCupid users, and if you can, try to avoid providing any definitive information about your identity in your profile such as your full name, your phone number, your email address, or your home address. Only give personal information to another person on OkCupid when you are comfortable enough with them to go on a date.
2. Set your privacy settings – immediately!
As soon as you create a profile on OkCupid, you should set your privacy settings to what you are comfortable with, as this may be different than the OkCupid default. To do this, click your profile picture in the corner of the screen, and select Settings from the drop-down menu. On the left side, select Privacy from the menu, and alter any settings you find necessary. You can also consider upgrading to A-List in order to browse other profiles invisibly, if you would prefer not to notify users that you viewed their profile.
3. Research other users before meeting them.
Remember that you are always in control of your own privacy – you should never feel pressured to go on a date with another OkCupid user. Especially if it is your first time, online dating can be overwhelming, as many users are used to the online dating dynamic.
Take things at a pace that you're comfortable with, and ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel safe before you meet another user in person. Researching the background of a potential date based on the information they have made available to you on their profile is an excellent idea, as you need to keep in mind that anyone can go online and create an account; there is no way for OkCupid to verify the age, gender, location, or any other information of a user.
If they're honest and trustworthy, they will understand your need to feel secure, and will likely have the same concerns. If a user becomes impatient with you or is hesitant to share personal information after you’ve made a connection, you should consider slowing things down with that person and explore other options.
4. Take proper precautions when meeting an OkCupid user on a date.
When you're finally ready to meet another OkCupid user in person, remember that you still need to exercise caution. Because it is so easy for users to be dishonest about any aspect of their online profile, there are some steps you should take prior to meeting anyone in person. In case the person of your dreams turns out to have twisted the truth on their profile, consider:
Public spaces are your friend! Never agree to meet your date in a private or isolated location, especially their home or yours. Instead, insist on meeting your date in a public place where there are bound to be other people around. Coffee shops, a popular pub, a restaurant, or a park (during the day) are all great options. Your date is less likely to try anything suspicious or dangerous in a place where others can see and intervene.
Let a close friend or family member know about your date, and be sure to tell them where you are meeting, and tell them as much information you can about your date. Ensure you have a failsafe way of contacting them (like a fully-charged mobile phone), in case something happens during your date, and set a time you expect to be finished so that they can check in and make sure everything is alright.
Never allow your date to pick you up or drop you off. Getting into a car with someone you don't know or trust can be dangerous. Instead, arrange your own transportation: drive your own car, a taxi, or take public transit.
5. Report OkCupid users who behave suspiciously.
If you have the unfortunate experience of interacting with users who aren’t who they say they are, or who act in an inappropriate or offensive way, you can help prevent them from continuing to do so by reporting them to OkCupid. Consider reporting anyone who:
- asks for your OkCupid account user name or password
- sends you messages on OkCupid that include links to third-party websites
- insists on meeting you (however briefly) outside of OkCupid before you're ready to do so
- asks you for money or donations
- appears on OkCupid with two or more very similar profiles that have different names
- asks for your home address, usually under the guise of wanting to send you gifts
- appears in their OkCupid profile picture(s) to be under the age of 18
- sends you threatening or deliberately offensive messages through OkCupid
- continues sending you messages after you have asked them to stop
- behaves inappropriately or dangerously when you meet them
- appears significantly different from their description when you meet them in person
- sends you messages through OkCupid attempting to sell you a product or service
- once researching, you discover has been dishonest about their basic profile information (for example, you find a profile on another website for this user and they are underage)
We’ve answered the question ‘Is OkCupid Safe?’ If you'd like more tips on how to use OkCupid safely, visit the American Federal Trade Commission's page on dating scams here, or Techboomers' own article on safe online dating here. In our next tutorial, we'll review OkCupid