Online dating is a hugely popular activity but it also attracts its fair share of fraudsters and people who are not what they claim to be. Of course these people are in the minority but it doesn’t hurt to apply a few safety rules so you can root out the genuine profiles from the ‘suspicious’ ones.

Check them out online

Don’t be shy about searching online for information on your prospective date. Everybody does it and it’s a good way to verify that they are who they claim to be by checking social networking sites.

If in doubt, delete them

You may be chatting to someone online for some time but if something crops up that leaves you feeling uncomfortable you are under no obligations. You can simply delete them.

Don’t give out too much information

Everybody wants to write a witty and engaging profile but don’t give out too much personal information. Keep it simple and provide just enough information to pique interest.

Be a little guarded

You might end up chatting with someone online who feels like an old friend but you should still treat them as a stranger. Don’t give out your address until you’ve established a relationship in the real world and you trust them.

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Don’t leave meeting too long

It’s too easy to keep secrets online. By meeting in the flesh you can quickly establish whether the person is who they claim to be. If distance is a problem you can use Skype so you both a little face time. If the person you met online is hesitant to meet in person and doesn’t want to Skype there is probably something going on that they wish to hide.

Too good to be true?

If your potential date’s profile is too good to be true it might be because it is. People can create all sorts of personas online that simply don’t reflect reality. If anything sounds strange or unbelievable, test the waters and ask questions.

Take it easy

Beware of premature declarations of love or requests for sexy photos from your online crush. Don’t fall too fast for someone you’ve never met. You don’t know who you’re actually falling for.

Share with friends

Tell a friend about your online dating and profiles that you are interested in. Ask them if they can identify anything that might not be quite right. If they express concern take it seriously.