An online dating primer to playing it safe

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(StockLite/Shutterstock.com)

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, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

Experts say you've got a one in five shot at finding love online. But how do you weed out the bad seeds and keep yourself safe?

Don't fall for fraud
"Like any new technology, there are some downsides to online dating, too," says Wichita State University's Deborah Ballard-Reisch, an expert on communication and relationships for about 20 years. "One of the biggest is fraud." She adds: "There are a number of international consortiums that get on online dating sites and pretend to be someone they're not in order to get money out of people. So if someone asks you to send them money, especially out of the country, run."

Start sleuthing
Since friends and family can't vet your potential online dates, you'll have to do some detective work. Before you meet someone in person whom you've met online, Google them, she advises. "Use multiple search engines. Consider seeking criminal background checks. Make sure that people are who they say they are."

Meet in a public place
"Always meet in a public place the first few times," says Ballard-Reisch. "Let your friends and family know where you're going, with whom and when you plan to return." Keep your phone online so you can be tracked via GPS, she adds. "If something feels wrong, get out."

Don't overshare
"Don't give information about yourself too quickly," she adds. While it's important to be yourself, you can do this without sharing personal information. Take time to build trust with the person.


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