It goes without saying that online chat rooms have a bad name. This stands to reason when you consider that online scammers often target chat rooms as a means to con people.
They do this by initially befriending a victim, often creating a fake persona and attempting to garner their trust with an elaborate story or tragic event. The purpose of which is to eventually con their victim out of money in some way. These scammers often target the over fifties, seniors or less savvy internet users that have little experience of the online world.
So if chat rooms are so dangerous, why are they so popular?
The reason may be because of the many advantages that chat rooms provide. In short, the benefits of joining a chat room often far out way any negative aspects. In other words, users think the risk is worth it.
As an example, as we age and approach seniority, it's common for our circle of friends to lessen. Due to this it's not uncommon for seniors to become lonely with very little social interaction from friends or family. This can also be true for those with medical difficulties or the disabled.
This is when a chat room can be invaluable as they provide a means for interaction with other like-minded people and an escape from an otherwise isolated world.
The advantages then of chat rooms seem clear, but knowing how to keep safe in a chat room is key to fully being able to enjoy them without having to worry about the possibility of being duped or ripped off by a scammer.
1) Choose a chat room that requires registration
Most bonafide chat sites, like Senior Chatters for example, require users to register a profile before access is granted. This is a good thing. What this means is that members of the site will have had their profiles checked for accuracy and authenticity. While this is by no way full proof, it does help ensure, as much as humanly possible, that users who become members join for all the right reasons.
2) Choose a chat room that is monitored
Any decent chat room will be monitored. Monitors are typically, but not always actual volunteer members of the chat site and help ensure that nothing untoward is going on in any of the rooms.
3) Never publicly divulge your real name
Often when registering for a chat site, you will be asked for your first and last name. That's fine, as it helps to weed out all the fake profiles. However you want to make sure that your full name is always kept private and doesn't appear publicly on your profile. You will want to check this before registering. Essentially, you should be allowed to register a public username that everybody on the chat site will know you as. Never reveal to anybody in a chat room your real name. If asked, make one up.
4) Never publicly divulge any financial information
It's common sense really, but not matter how well you think you know somebody, never reveal any financial information about yourself. This would include sensitive data like your bank details or any credit/debit card number, for instance. In fact, you should only ever be revealing this kind of information when purchasing something online, and then only when the connection is encrypted and secure.
5) Keep your address private
Think about it, why would anybody want to know your full postal address in a chat room? Maybe someone wants to send you flowers or a birthday card. It's possible I guess, but again, not worth the risk and certainly something you should never reveal in a chat room.
If you remain mindful of the steps above then an online chat room can be safe, enjoyable and a great way to interact with people from all over the world. If you would like to share your chat room safety tips please post them in the comment section below.