I posted this on my other blog; ThePrivacyDude.com, but I wanted to make sure the readers of this site also had a chance to read it!
The world of dating has changed over the recent years, and with Valentine’s Day coming upon quicker than the end of the Mayan calendar, let’s discuss how these changes could impact you.
Your single, so you go out to a bar or club to have some fun, let a little bit of liquid courage help you go talk to that cute girl or guy, and maybe hook up, or your buddy knows this really cute girl or guy that you will just love, so they hook you up on a date. Ok, that was so three years ago folks. Today, more connections are made by visiting online dating sites than by going to a bar/club. The number of Americans who are cyber dating have reached nearly 40 million according to a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Sciences. So how are these dating sites a privacy or a security concern? It is nice of you to ask that. When you go and sign up for a dating site, like eHarmony, you provide them with A LOT of information about yourself. I hope you noticed the big letters on a lot back there because I want, no, I need to emphasize HOW MUCH INFORMATION you are providing to a website. Think about the information you put out there on Facebook, and multiply it tenfold, and you are barely scratching the surface. Dating sites make their money off of subscription fees and off of advertising.
Lets rewind twelve years ago for just a second. In 1999 and 2000 an email address and an IP address was worth $1.01 to advertisers. Back then there weren’t really any spam filters, so companies could blast out an advertising campaign to the early adopters of the internet craze. Today, that cost is considerably lower, where an email address is worth about $0.15.
So, you put all of this really personal information on this website because you feel the more details you provide, more compatible matches will be sent to you. So, what happens to that data once you hit submit? As described before, anything you put on the internet will always be on the internet, but are dating sites the same about storing information? Of course!!! Have you noticed that once you have signed up with Facebook, Twitter, Nerve, eHarmony, and Match.com, your spam folder has filled up faster? Sites that collect personal data will use it to make money. You will see tailored advertisements that match your tastes, and as soon as you click on that link, the website gets paid! Look at the ads located on my sites, theprivacydude.com and thesmrt.com. I have two ads running, at the top and the bottom of my sites. They are from Google, and the way those work is by having Google crawl my blogs, and tailor the advertisements to something that is found on the blog. Every time you click on one of those ads, I make a little bit of money… I digress!
Dating sites are simply paid social networks where everyone has something in common… they are single and are looking for Mr./Ms. Right to sweep them off their feet. Your information is not “sold” to advertisers like it used to be, they just rent the data to them. Your very personal, often intimate details about yourself, are online, and once they hit there, you can never get them back, and you can’t control who can see them!
Now that the privacy dude has had his say, let’s look at the personal security and safety involved with cyber dating!
You have met Mr. Right on (insert_dating_site_name.com) and you two have been chatting 3-4 hours each day, for 3 weeks, and he now wants to meet you in person. You truly know him, you know his heart, his soul, and he wants kids… so you agree to meet him. Ok, here is how to be safe:
Don’t let him pick you up; simply meet him after work at a coffee shop or a bar that you know the staff at. That last part is important; knowing the staff at a bar can be a good step in your protection, as you have LESS of a concern that something could be slipped in your drink… which is why I would suggest you meet for coffee. Besides, coffee shops are more intimate than bars, and they are cheaper on the wallet. For the first few meetings, don’t let him know where you live, work, or what car you drive. When you do leave, don’t go straight home. Go to your friend’s house to gossip how the night went. Stay for a while, then leave. Paranoia is a good thing in these cases. You never know someone until you spend physical time with them.
Folks, I hope you take some piece of this post to heart and realize that your information should be treated sacredly, securely, and should never be given out. Take your heart out of the situation when it comes to meeting someone for the first time. Think logically, and think securely!
The travel season is quickly coming up again, so today I want to discuss travel safety and security. If you are a ‘world traveler,’ it is in your best interest to visit the State Departments travel safety website at www.travel.state.gov. This site gives you valuable information about embassy and consulate locations, threats to Americans, and other very useful information per country.
When travelling, it is important to be more vigilant in knowing what and who is around you. If you are going to be in a crowded place, such as New York City, make sure you take steps in protecting your money and valuable cards (ID, credit/debit cards, etc). I suggest to carry these items loose or in a money clip instead of in a wallet. If a pick pocket steals your wallet, they will be disappointed they didn’t get anything. Sometimes it is fun to write a note to the criminal, saying “This wallet has a GPS tracking device imbedded in the lining, and I have the coordinates on my phone. The cops are already on their way.” Again, it is all in the spirit of fun, and no matter how much credit we give to criminals, they aren’t smart. If they were, they would have a real job. The point I am trying to convey here is that keeping your important travel items safe will keep your vacation nicer.
International travelers: when you get to the hotel, do not, DO NOT, put your belongings into hotel safes. You should always keep your passport on you, AT ALL TIMES. If you run into trouble out in town, you must have your passport to gain entry into an embassy, and any time you are dealing with foreign law enforcement, you will need your passport to show that you gained entry legally into their country. If you want to convert money, try doing it in the United States before you travel. If you can’t, accept the international exchange fees, and just use your credit cards. Be cautious about using exchanges in foreign countries because you open yourself up to being a target for thieves. When I travelled in Europe, I carried about 200 Euros, and used my credit card for the rest. There are some places in Europe that do not accept credit cards, so you will need some cash. Remember, every international airport in the US has a currency exchange booth that covers all major currencies, utilize the service!
Stateside travel: If you are a concealed handgun license holder, check to see what reciprocity exists for your state’s license. You also need to learn the laws of every state you will be passing through with your firearm. A good resource to use is www.usacarry.com website, which has an interactive map that will tell you which states accept your carry license.
While in the US, the use of credit cards is widely accepted, so I always suggest using them. Don’t use debit cards if you can help it. Debit cards, if stolen, can be used to wipe out your account, and it could take months for you to get your money back… if you get it back!
No matter where your travels take you this Spring and Summer, remember to know your surroundings, carry as little cash as you can, use a credit card instead of a debit card, and don’t carry cash, credit cards, and IDs in your wallet, instead, keep them in your front pocket.
Personal security and safety is in your hands… Be proactive, and let the police be reactive!