I have been involved in the security industry for years, and one of the most common questions I get is how to be safe when meeting a stranger online or in person.
Safety Tips for Online Stranger Encounters
- When online, give out as little info as possible.
- If possible, meet people on sites that scrutinize their users, though even an extensive profile can be convincingly faked. Do your homework on these sites.
- Don’t rely only on profiles. Seek out their name online to see what comes up.
- Use a disposable e-mail address (or phone number) service or app.
- Speak on the phone first; it’s harder for a man to pretend he’s a woman this way.
In-Person Safety Tips with Strangers
- Use your smartphone to share where you’ll be with family and friends. There are apps that will let trusted people view where you’re at.
- Choose more than one meeting place (well-lit, very public). This is because you may want to go to a second location if it’s a date, or if it’s a buy-sell, the other person may get lost.
- For a buy-sell, bring someone with you.
- For dating or business, bring minimal cash, only the amount you expect to pay for an item. Keep extra cash (for haggling) separate and unseen by the stranger.
- If the stranger must come to your home to view an item you’re selling, leave your front door open. Try to have someone with you.
- Do a background check on anyone whose house you’re going to (such as to clean or babysit).
Safe Strategies with Strangers
- Never get into a car with a stranger.
- Arrange a nearby meeting place for you and trusted friends, after your blind date or business meeting. If it’s a blind date, your friends could be across the street having dinner; only one text message away.
- Stick to your meeting place plans; don’t veer off-course.