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To keep things simple, we reviewed eight of the most popular apps and developed a basic checklist of features that can affect users’ safety, security, and privacy.
It’s important to remember that anything you put online is essentially public—that’s true for dating apps too.
Do they have lots of information that would make it easy for a stranger to steal your identity or track you down in real life? It might be less convenient than texting with your phone’s default messaging system, but it gives you extra protection. Set up a Google Voice phone number just for dating.
Reevaluate what you’re sharing—even if you’ve got tight privacy settings, there’s the possibility that someone in your friend list could share information from your profile with someone you don’t know. At some point, you may want to talk to someone on the phone before you meet them in person.
But instead of giving your real phone number to someone you don’t know, consider using a Google phone number and forwarding it to your phone.
It’s pretty easy—once you log in to Google Voice, you can search by area code and choose an available number. Dating apps will sometimes show you when you and the person you’re talking to have mutual friends. Carrying a self-defense weapon is a very personal decision, but if it makes you feel safer, you may want to carry a Taser, pepper spray, or a knife.
Once you pick a number, the instructions will walk you through the rest of the setup. Check in with those friends and find out what they think of the person you’re interested in. Get to know them, but don’t share too many details at first. You should be able to trust those around you to be respectful, safe, and kind, but unfortunately that’s not always reality. Keep a little bit of cash somewhere on your person so that you have money if your bag or wallet gets lost or stolen. In some cases, even a flashlight can make an excellent self-defense tool.