Keep Face-To-Face Meetings with Online Connections Safe
Take precautions when greeting online acquaintances in person.
Increasingly, introductions are made on the computer rather than in person, whether through online dating, Internet marketplaces or Web forums. And some computer connections lead to face-to-face meetings. Chances are, the people you meet are sincere, but here are ways to help make sure offline encounters remain safe:
Protect Yourself Online
- Keep personal information personal. Avoid divulging details, such as your full name, date of birth and telephone number, until you’re comfortable. Never share your home address — a thief could arrange a meeting to lure you out of the house and have an accomplice break in while you’re away. Also take advantage of website features that keep your email address and other contact information anonymous.
- Keep financial information personal too. Don’t give strangers access to your Social Security or credit card numbers, or your bank account information. When completing a website-based sale, be wary of anyone asking you to send money via wire transfer.
- Get to know the person. Take it slowly, getting acquainted first through the website and then through email and phone conversations before arranging a meeting. Research the individual online and trust your instincts. If something feels suspicious or the situation seems too good to be true, call off the meeting.
Practice Smart Face-To-Face Planning
- Arrange the meeting at a public place. If possible, never invite someone to your home or schedule a meeting at a private, secluded location.
- Fill in friends and family about your plans. Tell someone whom you’re meeting, where and when the meeting is to take place, and when you figure on returning home. Plan to check in while you’re out.
- Stay connected. Make sure your phone is charged, and keep it close by so you can call, text or even snap a picture if there is any trouble.
- Take someone with you. Rather than go to the meeting alone, bring a friend or family member.
- Arrive with only what you need. Avoid carrying excessive amounts of cash or flaunting expensive jewelry.
- Drive yourself. That way the person you meet doesn’t need to know your address, and you have a way home if you feel uncomfortable.