8 Ways to Vet Online Dating Sites

Dating sites are a dime a dozen, so you can't be blamed if you're a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities. If you're seriously interested in making an online connection, however, there are certain things you should look for before giving your personal information to a third-party website. Here are just eight ways to stay safe as you search.

1. Identify Their Demographic
What kind of users are they hoping to attract? What kind of members are already there? The pious language used on religious sites will be different than the playful tones of people hoping to meet casual sex contacts. The better you understand a site's audience, the more accurately you can judge their intentions.

2. Sign Up for a Trial Membership
Many dating websites offer a free or discounted trial period if you want to get your feet wet before committing to a deep sea plunge. You probably won't have access to all of the features offered to gold or platinum members, but you can get a feel for what the website is like and what you can expect when you browse there.

3. Read Their "About Me" Page
Who founded the website? Are they affiliated with any professional organizations like the Online Dating Association (ODA), or are they part of an established network of dating sites? Both of these things are signs of legitimacy.

4. Plug Their Name Into a Search Engine
This is a quick and easy way to see what kind of press they receive from the masses. For example, bad sites will have scam reports cropping up while good sites might be in the news for reaching a membership milestone or collaborating with another company.

5. Check Out Their Reviews
The most honest assessments of a website come from previous customers. What do ex-users have to say about them? Did they list accurate prices on their membership page? Were their special features all they were promised to be? Would customers come back and use the site again?

6. Contact Their Customer Service Division
Give their customer service a trial run. For example, email them with a question and see how long it takes to receive a response, or call their hotline to learn if they staff their phones with real people or automated machines. If you aren't satisfied with their level of attention before you join, you probably won't be satisfied with it afterwards.

7. Look for Accessibility
Legitimate websites are often available on multiple platforms. Scam sites are thrown up with haste to make as much money as possible before they're caught and taken down, but real dating sites will have apps and mobile versions so their users can enjoy their services through phones, tablets and laptops alike.

8. Go With Your Gut
It's true what they say about instincts. If you have a bad feeling about a dating website, don't try to rationalize it away or invalidate what your subconscious is telling you. Trust your internal alarms to keep you out of trouble.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you browse online dating sites. It is possible to meet Mr. Right in the digital realm; you just need to be careful when trying to find him.


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