Online Dating Safety Tips - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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CHG

Telling women not to "share their real identity" or by extrapolation, demand it from the men they meet, is one very serious mistake. As a victim of a highly-publicized date rape, I can tell you that one of the ways the serial rapist who attacked me operated was by using fake names. He even gave me a fake name on the date --- it wasn't until after the attack, when I kicked the glove box of his vehicle open --- that I found his DMV registration with his real name on it. Many women came forward and testified to all the different names he had given them.

Of course we all want privacy. But privacy and secrecy are not the same thing, and secrecy aids those who are out to do harm. "Vumbers" may be a good idea; but insisting on anonymity is NOT. If a person really is sincere and honest and wants to date you, INSIST on knowing her/his REAL first and last name, and take the time to verify it. Just knowing a fake name won't help you (or the emergency contact you left it with, or the police)to find you or a criminal, and may in fact be held against you in a trial ("What? You mean to say you dated a person and weren't even sure of his real name?") Take it from someone who spent 3 agonizing days on the witness stand. Honest people have nothing to hide. If someone is adamant about not revealing their real name and home town, they do have something to hide. But don't wait around to find out what it is. And being "in a public place" won't help you in this situation, either. I was raped in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon at a marina.

CG, Rhode Island

Mark Brooks

The online dating industry seeks to lower the chances of such attacks. How should we proceed? What safeguards would you like to see the online personals industry put in place? Thanks CG.

Mark Brooks
Editor, Online Personals Watch

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Ben T

My heart goes out to you, CG, after reading your reply to this article. The thing is, if someone really wants to hide something, they are going to hide it, especially with all the tools available for identity protection these days.

What I always recommended was that people meet first for coffee, or lunch, at a public place like Starbucks. That way - its in the middle of the day, you have limited time, there is no thought about leaving the original place and going back to someone's house, etc.

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