One of the easiest platforms to meet different people is social media but the streets are no more safe with several interesting stories going around.

Before now, it was a common advice to never meet someone in person that you’d only met online but it’s a different story today. People have developed the courage to meet their online friend in person. It’s a good practice but the downside to this is the casualties of kidnap, death and other vices that result from refusing to take important precautions.

It’s interesting that you’ve decided to meet that guy or lady you’ve been speaking with regularly but it’s more interesting if you’re still alive to tell the story. There’s nothing like ‘being extra’ when it comes to safety.

When meeting someone for the first time, it falls into two categories. It’s either a business or casual meeting. Whichever it is, these tips will help you stay safe out there.

Below are the tips that would help you stay safe when meeting an online friend.

1. Vet the person before agreeing to meet

Everyone dishes out little and vital information about themselves when meeting someone online. Ironically, your first goal when meeting someone else is to find out as much of that information they shouldn’t be sharing online as you can. You will do yourself a lot of good when you have some first-hand information about them before meeting the person.

You wouldn’t be going to far if you did a Google search to find pictures and see what additional information comes up about the person beyond Facebook and Instagram.

2. Avoid giving out too much personal info upfront

Giving out personal information that can be detrimental to you should be avoided. Don’t give out places you normally visit, your family members’ locations, your salary amount and other personal information so quickly. After you and your date/friend get to know each other a little better and feel more comfortable, then you can share a little more about yourself.

3. Do a video call before your first meeting

Phone calls are not enough to vet who you are meeting these days. Talking by phone allows you to hear the other individual and to pick up on certain verbal cues that may be hidden through instant messaging or texts. You can take a step further by doing a video call with the person.

Ensure the voice on the phone is consistent with the video call. Like we said earlier, you can’t be too careful. This could also help to reduce the risk of being “catfished” by someone claiming to be someone he or she is not.

4. Plan your entire meeting

It’s very important you plan your whole encounter with the person you’re meeting. First, fix your meetings in a public place or typically any place that has good crowd e.g restaurants, bars, etc. Avoid private or secluded places like their houses or hotels.

Before you head out, set up your smartphone to share your location with your friends or family. Taking someone along with you is also not a bad idea.

5. Have an exit strategy

The other part of planning ahead for your outing is planning how you’ll leave the venue. You shouldn’t make the mistake of getting to into a vehicle with someone you don’t know and can’t trust. If things go south, you want to be able to physically get away from someone as fast as is reasonably possible. You can’t do that if you need a ride from them.

You can also set up a safe zone that your friends or family can meet you at nearby if you don’t want to take anyone with you to the date.