Online dating safety tips

FindSomeone, owned by Trade Me, is a fun way to meet new people and the team is proud to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience.

As with any interaction (online and offline), there are some precautions that you can take to protect yourself.

Here are some basic safety tips that can help you stay safe when meeting people online.

Online/General Tips
  1. Never send money or financial information!

    Never send money to people you meet online via a dating site.

    This is always a scam and you will never see that money again. Scammers will attempt to gain your trust by sharing an emotional story of a sick relative or financial difficulty. Sometimes they will even suggest they need money for their plane ticket to meet face to face!

    Do not send money under any circumstances, no matter how convincing they sound.

    Please alert us immediately through Community Watch if anyone asks you for money.

  2. Protect your personal information

    Be careful about what details you include in your dating profile.

    Any information included in your dating profile is visible to other members and could be used to identify you.

    Your profile nickname should never include your surname or any other identifiers.

    You should also avoid including contact details, such as your home or email address, work information or contact phone numbers.

    During the registration process, you are asked to enter your full name, email address and date of birth. This information is completely private to you and Trade Me, and is not visible to other members.

  3. Messaging anonymously is the safest start

    Messaging through FindSomeone is entirely anonymous.

    Your privacy is protected and you can get to know people at your own pace. You should still be cautious about how much information you share and always trust your instincts.

    Be wary of attempts to immediately move the conversation offsite, such as email or other messaging services.

    Scammers will opt to take the conversation away from the safety of the site as quickly as possible.

  4. Always read profiles carefully

    While the vast majority of members are honest and sincere, there can be exceptions in the form of dating scammers.

    Dating scammers have one purpose - financial gain. They will attempt to take advantage of our generally trusting nature by being emotionally manipulative.

    There are a number of indicators that can help to identify behaviour that is typical of dating scammers:

    • Language is often a good indicator as most dating scammers are based overseas. Be wary of profiles that have a number of spelling mistakes and grammar errors, especially if the person claims to be well educated.
    • Photos can provide some insight as to who you are messaging and where they're based. Does the photo look like it is taken in New Zealand? Has it been copied from the internet?
    • Immediate requests to move the conversation offsite. The intention is to move the conversation away from the safety of the site to other messaging services.
    • Overly affectionate communication very early into the conversation.
    • Intent on progressing the relationship very quickly.
    • Scammers are also less likely to chat to you over a video call.
  5. Use Community Watch to report suspicious or inappropriate behaviour

    Community Watch is a feature that allows you to report a profile to our team for further investigation. If you have experienced inappropriate behaviour or you are uncomfortable about an interaction, please report the member via the Community Watch link located at the bottom of each profile.

  6. Trust your instincts

    Common sense is your best friend. If something feels "off", or there are regular inconsistencies, stop contact immediately. Remember that you have control over the situation and can report the behaviour through Community Watch for further investigation.

Phoning Tips

If the messaging has gone well and you would like to progress to the next step, phoning first is preferable before meeting.

  1. Don't feel pressured to call

    Call the person only if or when you feel comfortable, and remember there is no hurry to meet once you have started talking on the phone - you are not restricted to a certain number of calls first.

  2. Giving out your number

    Don't pass on your phone number to anyone unless you are confident you want them to call. You could offer to make contact yourself, and remember that by dialling '#31#' (within NZ) before any number your caller ID will be blocked to the receiver. Alternatively, you may wish to use a specific prepaid mobile phone or public phone.

  3. If the calls don't go well

    If you're not comfortable with the outcome of the phone calls then there is no need to take things any further.

Meeting Tips

If the phone calls have gone well and you are confident you would like to meet this person, it is an exciting time but you should still heed the advice below. You can still meet in person and have the choice to remain essentially anonymous.

  1. Tell friends where and when you are meeting

    Keep friends and family informed about your meeting so they know your whereabouts and when to expect you home.

  2. Avoid driving to the meeting

    Have a friend drop you off so they know where you are, or take public transport, so you can't be followed back to your car. If you must drive, find a parking spot that is not within sight of the venue but is still well-lit and busy. Don't allow the person to pick you up at home, and when the date is over take separate taxis.

  3. Meet in a public place

    Meet during the day if you can, at a location where there are plenty of other people. If you go to a restaurant or bar, never leave your drink unattended.

  4. Keep your phone handy

    Keep your purse or wallet and mobile phone (charged and switched on) with you at all times. You could even ask a friend to call/text during your date to find out how things are going, and have a secret signal for them to come and get you if need be.

  5. Note any personal details

    When the person arrives, take a quick mental picture of their car, clothes and any other notable personal details.

  6. Don't feel pressured to arrange another meeting

    You can always communicate again via the website, so there is no need to pass on contact details or make promises to meet again. Give yourself time after the first meeting to evaluate how it went and whether you would like to see the person again.

  7. Make an exit if you feel uncomfortable

    If something doesn't feel right to you, you can always get lost in the crowd and call a friend for a quick rescue. If you feel at all uncomfortable during the meeting, make your apologies and leave. If you feel threatened in any way, excuse yourself and seek assistance if required.

Health Tips
  1. Boundaries

    Sometimes a date might go further than you anticipated. If this is what you want then great! But if not, it can sometimes be hard to say no, or you may feel like you have to go through with something once it's started.

    Despite how strong these feelings might be, you can stop what is happening at any time, and you don't need to apologise for it or give a reason. If it doesn't feel right to you, then stop.

  2. Looking after your health

    If you are ready to take it further, it's important to use protection. There are plenty of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) out there including HIV, and condoms protect you against almost all of them. Remember that it only takes one time to contract something, so be sure to use condoms every time. No matter what your date may tell you, the only sexual history you can be sure about is your own.

    Condoms can be purchased from any supermarket or pharmacy, or can be obtained free from Family Planning, your nearest Sexual Health clinic, or the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF).

    If you do slip up, it's really important to get a check-up; you can go to your local GP, or if you prefer a discrete service where you can remain anonymous, visit a sexual health clinic, Family Planning clinic, or the NZAF.

  3. Under pressure

    Whether you've been on many dates with someone, or you're on the first, some people can be very persuasive in asking you to do things you aren't comfortable with.

    If someone really does care about your boundaries, they won't try and coerce you into doing something you don't want to do, whether that be as simple as a kiss or as serious as unprotected sex. Always put your own health and safety first and remember, trust and consent are yours to give, not theirs to demand.

    If something happens on a date which you feel was not okay, it's a good idea to talk to a friend about it. If you need to take it further and want to know what the next step could be, click here to see a list of organisations which can help you decide what to do next.

Your happiness and your health come first, every time.