For most people with a lick of common sense, they know that when they start dating online, they need to be safe. They make sure that they don’t have any personal information in their profile, make sure that they are careful when they talk to new matches and make sure not to reveal too much personal information to someone until they know they can trust them.
Most of the time these precautions are not going to be necessary. Most of the people that you talk to and date online are going to be fairly normal and not really people you need to be scared of. But, being the smart single you are, you know that there’s no reason to take a chance. You’ve got everything buttoned up, and you’re a closed book with your personal information until you know it’s safe to reveal.
Well, at least you think you are. While everything we just mentioned is a phenomenal way to stay safe, there is one area of online dating that people have a tendency to forget. Without proper attention to this, you could be revealing private information about yourself, your family, your work, and your house to the whole world.
Check Your Photos
Believe it or not, your online dating profile photos could be telling a lot more of a story than you want them to. What people forget to look at is the information that may be secretly tucked into your photos. No, we aren’t talking about metadata or any Jason Bourne spy type stuff. We’re talking about what you may be wearing in your pictures, what you may be doing in your pictures, and what may be in the background of your pictures. Let’s look at all of these
What You May Be Wearing
Surprisingly, we see this one most with nurses, doctors, vets, and anyone that works somewhere where they wear monogrammed uniforms and name badges. If you are wearing your uniform in a picture that says where you work, guess what? Anyone that sees that picture is going to know exactly where you work. This is fine if it’s a match you want to have that information, but now anyone that looks at your dating profile is going to know where you work.
More importantly, if you wear a name badge at your job, you may be giving away your full name, where you work, and whatever other pertinent information is on your badge. Think it’s too small to see? People can zoom in. Remember those spy shows? enhance…Enhance…ENHANCE!!!
Make sure that if you want to post a picture to your profile of you in your work uniform that you hide, remove, or blur any information that you don’t want to be shared with the world.
What You May Be Doing
Online daters love to showcase their hobbies in their profiles. Is this a great idea? You bet it is! There is nothing that says more about who you are as a person than what you like to do and how you like to spend your free time. So, what’s the problem? The problem is when your hobbies show too much information about you. If you have a bad date or end up attracting a lovely stalker, you’re going to want to make sure you haven’t given them blueprints to your life and where you like to frequent.
For example, if you take pictures of yourself working out at your gym, everyone and their mother now know somewhere you probably go three or four times a week. Or if you post a picture at your kid’s soccer game? Now the whole world knows where you and your family go on the weekends. We aren’t saying that you need to take all your pictures of you having fun down immediately. We’re just saying that you need to make sure you aren’t giving too much information away to people you don’t want to give it to.
What May Be in the Background
The last thing you need to check with your online dating profile pictures is what’s in the background. We can’t tell you how many profiles we’ve seen where people have their car with their license plate in the background, their house with their street address in the background, or even more private information on sticky notes on their desk at work.
While you may not be as detail oriented or even OCD about this stuff, other people might zoom in on your photos and have private information of yours. We wish we were making this up, but we saw an online dating profile where a person had taken a picture of themselves at work in front of their computer and their login information was sticky noted to the screen behind them. You could read it clear as day.
You shouldn’t be scared to post exciting pictures of yourself online that share with the world who you are and what you like to do. To be honest, most of the people you interact with or visit your profile are going to be on the up and up and are not a threat or something to worry about. But, there are stories and a few cases every year where things try to get out of hand.
All we are recommending that you do is when you fill out your online dating profile and upload your photos, you take a minute and make sure that you’re not giving away information that you don’t want the rest of the world seeing. 99% of the time this is going to be overkill, but heaven forbid you fall into that 1% category and stumble upon someone who is creepy, stalkerish, or dangerous.
If you follow these tips, you can avoid a lot of headaches and help to keep yourself safe by controlling your personal information. Remember, it’s called YOURS and PERSONAL for a reason. It’s not meant for the whole world to have access to.
Written By: Jason Lee
Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.
His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.