Mind the Red Flags: How to Stay Safe When Dating Online

Woman and man on a date in a restaurant. Both are wearing blindfolds

Online dating is a fantastic way of meeting like-minded people and finding your perfect match. However, it is crucial to be aware of online dating red flags. You have probably heard stories of scamming and catfishing in the news. Who could forget the infamous Tinder Swindler who scammed more than 10 million dollars from women worldwide?

So, here at #Dating, we want to make sure you’re clued up when it comes to online dating. Of course, not everyone is out to con you – most people who are online dating are good, genuine people, just like you! However, a small minority of people unfortunately use dating apps and websites to trick and take advantage of other people. That’s why one of the most important dating questions is how to keep yourself safe.

By knowing the online dating red flags and being smart when using the internet to find love, you’ll be able to date with confidence.

Let’s look at the early dating red flags to watch out for when online dating.

Why do people catfish online?

Woman applying makeup on another woman

Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone else online. They often take images they find on the internet and use them on their profile. They might create a whole new identity, or use the identity of someone they know.

But, why do people do this?

  • Simply put: Insecurity. People will catfish because they are not happy with who they are, and wish to be someone else. They may be struggling to meet a partner in real life, and want to find a connection online that suits them.
  • It could also be for revenge. Some people will catfish ex-lovers or friends in order to hurt them emotionally. They may also wish to get compromising pictures from this person to spread online.
  • Other times it’s motivated by money. Many catfishes do it for money. They will form an online relationship with someone to gain their trust. They will then make claims to their victim about financial distress or trouble in order to get them to hand over money.

Can you spot red flags in a dating profile?

Online dating allows you to check out their profile and learn more about them before matching with someone.

Red flags may be easy to spot in a profile, even before you start chatting with the person. Let’s look at some online dating red flags that mean you have to swipe left!

Are they too good to be true?

Woman looking into the distance by a window

Of course, we all want to showcase our best possible selves on our online dating profiles, but sometimes a profile will seem too good to be true.

Is this person claiming to be a CEO of a huge corporation? Do they look like a model in their pictures, with professionally taken images? Do they claim to have a whole list of achievements?

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Is the profile incredibly vague?

Even professional scammers can find it difficult to create an in-depth profile. This means that you should be wary of a profile that is very vague.

Perhaps they have a very basic profile, with no work and education information included for example. They may also have a small number of pictures, with none actually showing their face.

Does the profile ask you to contact them on another platform?

Woman looking at her phone annoyed and confused

Asking you to move to another platform (like Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook) straight away can be a huge red flag. When you take communication off the dating app, you are sacrificing the safety tools that many dating apps have.

Never take the connection off the app straight away.

Report suspicious profiles

If you have seen these red flags in a profile on #Dating, you can easily report the profile. Because your safety is our priority, we have made this pretty easy!

At the bottom of every profile, you will see it says “Is something wrong with this profile?”. Click on that button to report the profile and we’ll look into it.

Report suspicious profiles to date safely on #Dating

What are the online dating red flags to look out for when getting to know a match?

Woman checking her phone with a serious expression

If you are getting to know someone online, it is important to stay alert and aware of any early dating red flags.

Here are things to look out for with a new match.

Are they over the top straight away?

A huge red flag when it comes to online dating is if your match is over the top with affection and romance straight away.

Perhaps your match is sending you a whole load of gushy messages about how perfect you are and how you are what they need from a partner. They will be saying these things, but without actually finding that much out about you.

If your match is telling you they love you after a week, your alarm bells will surely start ringing. Declarations of love early on is a classic tactic of a scammer who is up to no good.

Are they avoiding face-to-face communication?

Man looking away from a woman who seems annoyed

When someone is using pictures of other people on their profile, for obvious reasons they will want to avoid face-to-face communication at all costs.

Is your match putting off phone calls and video calling? Do they make the excuse that their phone is broken, or their signal is bad?

Of course, sometimes people do have technical issues, but not 24/7! Not wanting to video call is a huge red flag when it comes to online dating.

Likewise, be wary if your match is putting off a real-life meetup. If the person you’ve been talking to for a while lives nearby, you might wonder why they don’t want to meet up… Of course, you may be chatting to someone long-distance, which means that meeting up is harder. However, if they show no signs of wanting to meet and refusing to video call, there’s a chance they’re a catfish.

Do things they say not add up?

A lot of scammers are very good at what they do. They plan their stories and make everything sound really believable. But still, even the smartest scammers are fallible, and they will slip up.

If there are inconsistencies in their claims, be wary of who you are chatting to. These claims may be about work, family life, or hobbies and interests. If things don’t add up, they are probably lying.

Are they going through a tough time?

Woman leans on her friend's shoulder

Now, this red flag might be one of the hardest to identify (and then address). As humans, we are naturally kind and have a lot of compassion for those who are going through a difficult time. When someone tells us that they are suffering, we believe them and want to help.

However, scammers prey on kind and compassionate people in order to get what they want. If your match is claiming that they have a serious illness, have lost their job, or anything along those lines… be careful.

This is because claims like this may lead to one thing: money. A scammer will gain your trust and support, telling you all about their unfortunate life. Then, something will happen, and they will need money.

Of course, people do suffer, and your match may be telling the truth about their struggles. However, if they mention money, they are probably lying.

Are they asking for money or gifts?

Have you not met up with your match yet but they are already asking for money or gifts? They may be saying that they need the money to visit you. Or perhaps they are claiming that they are going through a hard time financially and have no one to turn to.

Never give money or gifts to people you don’t know. Even if they are claiming that they love you and want to be with you. They are preying on your kindness and compassion.

Do they get annoyed at you if you don’t reply straight away?

Woman pushes her partner away as he tries to explain something

Relationships are built on respect and understanding. A huge red flag when it comes to online dating is if your match is constantly messaging you. Perhaps you always finish your shift at work to look at your phone and see message after message from your match.

If they try to guilt-trip you regarding messaging (or not messaging), this person is not right for you as they are not respecting your boundaries and time.

I think I am getting catfished or scammed, now what?

Sad woman

Are you relating to any of the online dating red flags? Do you think you are getting catfished or scammed by your match?

Know that it is not your fault

Firstly, it is super important to remember that it is not your fault. Sadly, a lot of people who get catfished and scammed end up blaming themselves, feeling foolish and embarrassed about what happened. According to Express, victims of fraud are put off reporting the crime to the police because they are ashamed of what happened to them. In the UK, a study documented in the Express revealed that 78% of fraud crimes were not reported to the police because of the shame and embarrassment they faced. We know that the emotional and psychological effects of online scamming and catfishing can really affect the victim. So, we want to remind you again that it is not your fault.

Report their profile

If you think you’re chatting to a catfish or scammer, please report their profile or contact our customer support team.

Report a profile: You can report a profile by tapping the three vertical dots next to the reply field in your chat with them. You will then be able to report them or unmatch them so that they can no longer interact with you.

Contact us: You can also contact the #Dating support team if you need advice and help. Simply go to the app settings and click on “Feedback”. Under “Feedback type”, select “Problem” and send a message to us directly explaining the issue. The more information you share with us, the faster we can get to work rectifying the situation.

Contact #Dating customer service with problems

Search the internet

If you are unsure whether the person you are talking to is a catfish or not, you can also turn to Google to help you out! Search their name and location. Does anything come up? Have they got other social media profiles? You can also do a reverse image search on their profile pictures. This is super easy and allows you to see if the person’s profile picture is online somewhere. As catfish usually take images from the internet, you are able to find out the source of that image. You can also reverse image search screenshots, too!

How can I keep myself safe when dating online?

Happy person walking down the street

Knowing the online dating red flags can help keep you safe when using dating apps and websites.

Other tips on staying safe when dating online include:

  • Be cautious when online dating
  • Take your time getting to know someone
  • Never send explicit pictures or videos to someone you don’t know
  • Never give out money
  • Ask questions if you are concerned
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to a meetup
  • Meet your match in a public space
  • Tell a close friend or family member when you are going on a date


Lou Siday

Lou Siday

Lou Siday is a writer from North East England with a degree in Creative Writing. Having been on her own self-love journey over the last few years, she loves writing about empowerment and wellness! For Lou, communication, honesty, and mutual respect are essential when it comes to dating.


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