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Recently I helped a friend sift through about 50 suitors courtesy of her online dating profile – dividing them into helpful categories like ‘marriage material’, ‘possible mullet’ and ‘serial killer’. With my Internet safety hat on, even just her ‘name’, ‘suburb’ and ‘hobbies’ could allow a potential suitor/creepy stalker to go for a drive around her suburb looking for a red-headed runner answering to “Beth”.Would-be Romeos posed in pictures with their cars (pass! So with Valentine’s Day around the corner, here’s a little advice on keeping your information safe while courting online. revealing When choosing a dating profile name it’s best if it doesn’t include personally identifiable information about yourself, such as your name, suburb or birth year. Hilarious as that was, I was amazed at how much personal information my friend (let’s call her Beth*) might reveal while innocently plugging info into her dating profile.

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Likewise, it’s easy and well worth creating a new email address for correspondence on dating sites – one that’s not linked to your Facebook, or worse, your place of employment.

A quick Google search on your first name and company can lead suitors to anything that might be publicly accessible, such as your surname.

With your full name, a simple white pages check can uncover your home address.

Even just revealing your phone number can allow searches on the reverse look up service – revealing your surname and home address.

While all of this sounds a bit on the paranoid side, it’s easy enough to avoid with a little care and scrutiny for what you put on the table to begin with.

Choose the right site With so many different sites out there, you can afford to be picky as to the type of service you sign up to.

Choose a site that is well known, has a large enough database (there are, after all, plenty of fish in the sea) and has an appropriate privacy policy that will guard your personal details as closely as you do.

You’d also do well to select a dating site that offers their own email service.

This means that you don’t have to swap details until you know it’s safe to do so.

Trust your instincts Turn things around – use the web to get sleuthy and research candidates by typing your match’s name into a search engine, finding public information or even using a paid service for a full background report.

Never let the rose-tinted glasses of ‘lurve’ trick you into offering financial assistance to someone you’ve met online- regardless of how well their elaborate story checks out.

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