While there has been a lot of discussion about the safety of using online dating sites, both online in blogs and forums, and offline on television and in gatherings, especially about free dating sites, it is nevertheless important to keep all those points fresh in one's mind. This article is a summary of all important guidelines for using free online dating sites.
When a dating site has been termed free, it has to be free. Even if some scammers send emails selling stuff, posing as the site's administrators, it is quite obvious that they have to be considered scammers. Never divulge any financial information, especially credit card details on free dating sites. When asked to do so, first of all one should contact the support staff or admins of the free site. If the site is offering some paid services legitimately and have information about them on the website itself, it is a different matter.
PRIVATE INFORMATION SAFETY
The myriad free online dating sites offer online stalkers convenient masks to get themselves acquainted to innocent potential victims, gain their trust and ultimately ask for favors, or meet them at secluded locations etc. Numerous such incidents have been reported over the years. Thus, while it's perfectly alright to use nicknames and make friends and dates online, it's never advisable to give them contact or private information unless one knows them offline.
Social networking sites like facebook are open books of one's private and contact information. While using the security features like allowing only friends to view one's private data do help to a certain extent, one who intends to fool the system can certainly do so without much difficulty. For example, through your friends' facebook walls, the miscreants can get sensitive information over the course of days. Thus, keeping sensitive personal info to private messages and being discreet about one's location and private details is the only way to stay safe. Being totally cut-off from such sites is not at all necessary!
Apart from stalking, identity theft and misuse is a common crime since the advent of online dating and network sites. Even anonymous chat rooms can be perfectly safe as long as first names (or even better fake names) are used and work and other happenings are shared without any specific details like locations and names. Last names should never be disclosed.
The basic advice is that one should use common sense in deciding what to share and what not to share. Online, without knowing anything at all about the other person, sharing full names, locations or contact info is like sharing one's bank account and credit card information with a passer-by on the road!