new free Google Gmail account just for online dating (nothing else). You can forward it to your regular email for convenience, but always answer from the dating Gmail account. That way your email can't be used to find you, and you can always close that account if you encounter a real creep.
2. Buy a cheap
prepaid cell phone just for online dating (Net10, Page Plus, etc), and pay by
cash (not credit card). You can forward it to your regular cell for convenience,
but always call from the dating cell phone. That way your phone number can't be
used to track you down, and you can always drop it in a dumpster (or donate it
to charity) if you encounter a real creep. (Bad guys call this a "burner
phone".) Or use the Burner app.
3. Always do a first meeting in a very public place, make it
something cheap (like coffee or tea), and buy your own. That way you'll be safe, and
able to walk away whenever you want with no feeling of obligation.
Always drive your own car or use public transport. Never ever give out your home
address until you know someone really really well.
5. Post new photos, not photos you've used anyplace else (Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc). Otherwise people can use image search to find and associate these other places.
6. Use a nickname for
online dating, not your real name, to make it harder for someone to look you up
7. Do not use your real city of residence in your dating profile
-- use a nearby city instead to make it harder for someone to look up your home
8. Never even start with anyone that doesn't have at least
good photo posted. Having no photos or only bad photos is a big red flag.
When someone gives you a phone number, Google it -- you'll often learn
worthwhile things. ;)