We've successfully steered thousands of single people into happy relationships and while we want this journey to be fun for you, we cannot ignore your safety. We continuously put a lot of effort into creating a secure space where you can find exactly what you're looking for. All you need to do is follow these simple, common-sense tips to get the most out of Encounters Dating.

Safety tips that work online... and off

We moderate all profiles and photos, keep your personal details private and safe, and allow you to send and receive messages without having to divulge your true identity. But safe dating requires some work from you too.

1. Choose a username that doesn't give the game away

We'll change your username for you if it's too close to your real name (check out our privacy policy here). Remember also that overtly sexual, provocative or controversial usernames could attract the wrong kind of attention.

2. Be a little mysterious...

Don't give up all your personal details in the first few mails. Reveal your first name, but not your last name; tell a potential match about the industry in which you work, but don't part with the company name.

Don't give out Twitter handles or friend potential matches on Facebook too soon and if you decide to move the conversation to email, consider creating an email address that doesn't reveal your full name.

3. Take control

One of the best things about online dating is that you get to dictate the pace at which you move. Don't feel pressurised into chatting on the phone, meeting, or even revealing personal details like your full name, phone number, email address or place of work. Just because someone gives you theirs, doesn't mean you have to part with yours.

4. Use the "Block" feature

Part of the control on Encounters Dating is the "Block" button. If you want to stop someone from contacting you on Encounters Dating, just click on the "Block Him/Her" link at the bottom of their profile, and they'll be out of your hair.

5. NEVER EVER send money to anyone

You wouldn't give your cash to someone you'd just met in a bar or at a bookshop, would you? Well, the same rules apply online. If you are asked for money, something is wrong. If this happens, please contact us immediately.

6. Someone on the site being abusive? Report them.

If another member's behavior is giving you cause for concern, or if someone's being downright abusive, please let our Support Team know. It's as easy as clicking on the "Report Abuse" link at the bottom of their profile. All complaints are treated in the strictest confidence and could result in, amongst other things, the suspension or deletion of the offending member's profile.

7. Trust your gut

The cardinal rule of online (and offline) dating is really quite simple - listen to your inner voice. If something seems wrong or you suddenly feel uncomfortable or threatened, remove yourself from the situation. Trust your gut.

Lose your heart, NOT your cash

Most members of Encounters Dating are just like you - they're hoping to find someone special, and make a real connection, but just like any other facet of life, there's an occasional rotten apple lurking in the barrel, just waiting for a kind-hearted person to scam. The team at Encounters Dating go to great effort to find, remove and make it difficult for them to join again. Scammers are professional criminals and can be very adept at hiding their tracks. They'll usually employ one of the following two methods to extract cash out of you:

1. THE TRAVEL SCAM

Your online match has professed undying love (usually with undue haste), now all that lies between the two of you and enduring happiness is a couple of borders. "Wouldn't it be great to meet, test this new found love?" says the scammer. But alas, he or she just doesn't have the spare cash for a ticket/visa/pet sitter. That's where you come in - love does, after all, conquer all - even temporary cash flow problems. Only thing is, once the money transfer is done, the scammer will disappear like morning mist.

2. THE SOB STORY

This has more twists and turns than a soap opera - it's drama all the way, and very detailed. A little too detailed perhaps. Sometimes it's a sick parent or child who desperately needs an operation, but more often the sob story goes around disappointed hopes. A job offer that mysteriously fell through, leaving them stranded and penniless, with a large hotel bill to take care of. There's always some reason they need the money in cash.

THE GOLDEN RULE: NEVER, EVER, EVER (DID WE MENTION EVER?) SEND MONEY - NO MATTER HOW SINCERE THE PLEA!

First Dates: the do's and don'ts

First dates can be amazing - all the anticipation, butterflies and excitement of meeting someone with whom you've sparked on Encounters Dating. As much fun as it can be to take the next step, remember to keep your wits about you, and don't throw caution to the wind.

1. Meet in public

Making a three-course gourmet meal from scratch at home might score you a few points, but it's better to have an audience the first time you meet. Arrange your first face-to-face encounter in a public place.

2. Keep it short and sweet, with the option to extend

Try to keep the first date on the short side. That way if you find the spark just isn't there in person, you can bow out gracefully.
A coffee date or lunch is a good call and hey, if you hit it off, you can always let the date run on to supper or a movie.

3. Phone a friend

Make sure at least one person knows where you're going, who you're meeting, and how long you expect to spend with them.
Get a friend or family member to give you a "rescue call" timed for mid-date. You can use the call as an excuse to cut the date short if things go badly.

4. Be independent

Make sure you have your own transport for the first date. Don't be dependent on your potential match for a lift to or from the venue.

5. Guard your full identity

Even though you're face to face for the first time, try holding back full details about your life and identity. There'll be plenty of time to get to know each other if the date goes well.

6. Don't leave home without your mobile phone

Make sure you have your phone with you, make sure it's charged and that you know your network's emergency number... just in case.

7. Keep a beady eye on your stuff

Don't leave your drink unattended, and keep your personal belongings with you at all times - even when you go to the bathroom.

8. Going the distance

If you are meeting far away from home, make sure to arrange your own accommodation, preferably with a friend or relative. Keep the location to yourself. If you can't organize accommodation, rather postpone the first date or have your potential match travel to your part of the world.

9. It's OK to be cautious

In fact, it's just plain wise. It's your right to feel safe and secure in any social situation you choose, so don't be pressured into anything that makes you feel vulnerable or uncomfortable.

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