A4A: Online Safety Tips
Most people you meet online are sincere, however there are people online that you should be wary of. Following the safety tips as provided on A4A site (My Account > Tips for Safe Dating) and reposted here, will help you make sure you are as safe as possible when meeting men online and offline.
Follow the jump to read those safety tips!
Protect yourself from fraud
Never share personal or financial information with people you have online or that you do not know very well. Do not send money to online acquaintances, especially by wire transfer because wire transfers are similar to sending cash. Do not give out any credit card information or your identification numbers such as a social security number.
Protect your privacy
Remain anonymous until you feel safe. Be cautious about revealing information that could identify you. Remember that if you give someone a piece of your personal information, such as your phone number or email address, they may be able to use Internet search sites to get your full name, street address or other personal information that might make you vulnerable to identify theft or stalkers.
If you want to give someone your real name, e-mail address, phone number, or any other personally identifying information you should also ask him to provide you with the same information about them. Use the information he has provided and Email him and/or call him to confirm that the information you have is valid. If you would like to know more about someone before you meet them, then we suggest that you use Internet search tools or conduct a background check to obtain more information on them.
Secure your login information
Use caution when accessing you account from a public or shared computer. Do not allow your password or screen name to be stored in a public computer. If you share your computer at home, you should disable browser features that save user names and passwords, delete your browsing history, and empty your cache after using the site.
Never give anyone your password no matter why they say they need it or who they say they are. If someone asks you for your password, you may report them here. If you think someone knows your password, go to the My Account section of the site and change it. If you believe someone obtained your password through your personal email account, you should immediately change the password to your email account and the password to your profile.
Take time to ask questions
Knowing what someone is into sexually is only part of the story. It is important to get to know as much as you can about a possible date or hookup before you meet in person. One way to do this is to read their profile carefully, and be sure that what is posted on their profile matches what they are saying to you and that you like what they say. Ask direct questions and listen for inconsistencies. Ask for their name, where they live and work, what they like and do not like. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they communicate. Follow your gut.
Meeting in person
If you plan to meet someone you have met online in person, remember, no matter how long you have been communicating online, you are really meeting them for the first time. Do all you can to verify that you know who you are meeting. You may have already asked for a picture, be sure to have a recent face picture and feel free to ask for some form of identification. Verification of identity, even through a web cam, can help protect you from thieves and those that may seek to harm you.
Your first meeting should be in public and others should know where you are going. Give a friend their screen name and the other personal information that you have gotten from them. Print out their information (screen name, address, phone number, email address) and some of your communication, and leave it by your computer before you leave home.
Be sure to take your cell phone with you. Choose a comfortable meeting place like a café or an open park. Talk to him in a location where there are a lot of people around (people that can become instant witnesses in case of a bad date).
You may also want to ask a friend to call you during your arranged meeting time to check on you. Do not be afraid to let your date know that you have informed others about your meeting.
Do not do anything you are not comfortable doing, you have the right to set boundaries and limits, including sexual limits. No means No. If you are turned down, do not take it personally and respect the person’s wishes.
Have your own transportation
Do not be dependent on someone else to pick you up or drop you off. Use public transportation or a taxi if they are available. To add an extra layer of protection, take alternate routes to and from home if you think you might be followed.
Keep a clear head
Getting drunk or getting high before meeting someone met online can put you in danger. If you plan on drinking or parting, to protect yourself from being knocked out or taken advantage of, mix your own drinks and use your own party supplies.
Secure your valuables
If you are meeting at someone else’s home, do not take cash, credit cards, electronics (with the exception of your cell phone), or other valuables with you. If you are having someone come to your home, secure all valuables, hide your laptop and other portable devices that have value. Do not leave your visitor alone, it is likely that your visitor will want to use your restroom, clear all valuables and anything that may be used as a weapon from your restroom.
Ask about health
There is more to health than HIV status in profiles. Talk about your HIV status and ask about his. A conversation about sexually transmitted diseases, especially HPV, Hepatitis A, B and C, Herpes, and genital warts is part of risk reduction.
You have a right to have sex in whatever form you choose. We recommend that you use protection by wearing a condom when having sex. Whether you choose to use protection or not is up to you but at least know what you are getting into by talking with your partner.
Remember that not everyone is honest and some people will not tell you their real HIV status or their STD history.
If you encounter an online date that refuses to answer questions about their health, their HIV status, their last STD test, and/or their sexual history, then you should use a condom or practice another form of safer sex. If you want to have protected anal sex (use a condom) and they refuse, do not give in. Sticking to your safety limits is important and compromising what makes you safe is not worth a date.
For more information about gay men’s health check out our Health Resource page and the Health section of the Adam4Adam blog.
Block abusive users
Block any member that treats you in an abusive way and report the member to us immediately. The Report User link can be found in all emails.
If someone sends you abusive mail within our system please read our FAQs page under “What should I do if someone is harassing or abusive”.
If the problem happened outside our website
If you believe that are in immediate danger, no matter the circumstances, it is usually the police that have the capacity to protect you in an emergency. Call 911 immediately if you are being pursued, abused, or are a victim of any crime.
If you are harassed or victimized by someone you’ve met you can call the Anti-Violence Project 24-Hour hotline at (212) 714-1141
If you are being abused
If you in a situation where someone is provoking you, never retaliate with verbally or physically.
Partner abuse is real and there is help available if you are being abused. You have the right to an abuse free life. For help with partner abuse check out the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project.
The National Center for Victims of Crime is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is a coalition of 40 anti-violence organizations that monitor, respond to, and work to end hate, domestic and sexual violence, HIV-related violence, and other forms of violence affecting LGBTQ communities. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.
Matthew’s Place is an online community and resource center for GLBTQQ and allied youth, the Youth Lounge provides resources about GLBTQQ youth friendly shelters, outreach centers and empowerment programs across the country.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.