If you're meeting potential mates online, you might be have some concerns. For one, how do you know that the person on the other end is for real? How do you know it's even safe to meet someone on the Internet?

These aren't abnormal or uncommon questions. Last season, MTV's show "Catfish" documented many such stories. The show revolved around online romances and fake online profiles.

It's scary, if you think about it. Love is scary. But meeting someone online is a risk.

The term "catfishing " is becoming synonymous with the idea of creating a fake online profile to lure unsuspecting friends, and in some cases, lovers.

While the events on the show Catfish seem harmless, there are some scary stories out there of online dating scams. Specifically, WSBT reports of some dangerous cases where men were lured to meet women in person, after meeting them online through a fake profile. Instead of meeting the women face-to-face, some of the men were robbed.

So, if you're dating online, how do you protect yourself from ending up a victim of an online dating scam?

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Look up their name.If someone gives you their name, it's very easy to run a Google search on the name. Do some digging and see what information you can get on the person.
  2. Look up their photo.If you've seen the show "Catfish," you've seen how they verify someone's photo. It's really very easy. All you need to do is go to Google Images and run an image search. You then drag the person's profile photo to the image search box and see what comes up.
  3. Ask to video chat. There's no harm in asking to video chat. And there are so many ways to do it, too. You can use Skype, FaceTime, or Google Chat. But there's a lot of potential harm in notvideo-chatting.
  4. Meet in a pubic place.You might find yourself in more trouble if you go to someone's house, in a park or worse, in a parking lot. Meet them at a coffee shop. And try to get there early so that you're not caught off guard at your car. Also, let a close friend or family member know where you are going and have the address.
  5. Don't give financial information. Be very guarded about giving anyone financial information or any other personal information.

Be careful. While you could meet the love of your life, you could also get yourself into great danger if you don't play it safe. Be smart.

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