Tips, Security, Precautions and Common Sense Pointers
MeetingWave.com (the "Web Site") provides a service that allows members to meet with other members in person. Thus, the Website provides not only a means for on-line communication between members (e.g., through the posting of invitations), but also provides for in-person meetings. Since MeetingWave.com does not select or screen the members who are posting or accepting invitations, it is important that you use common sense and always keep your safety in mind when using the Web Site, particularly when meeting individuals in person. The Internet is a great place to network with other people. Its usefulness aside, it does have its "dark" side. Knowing what and what not to do online can save you a lot of grief!
NO MINORS ALLOWED: Parents should know that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to use MeetingWave.com services. While we can't always tell if someone is lying about their age, we try to keep them off our Web Site. If you discover that your child is posing as someone older and using our Web Site, please let us know. It's important to us to help you keep your child safer online. For useful information for parents about Internet safety, visit WiredKids.org and WiredSafety.org.
If you're under 18, please do not use this Web Site. If we find out a member is under 18, we will delete his or her profile and membership. If you communicate with or meet anyone using MeetingWave.com who appears to be or they say they are under 18, please let us know immediately.
IN-PERSON MEETINGS: We have all heard the stories about in-person meetings going bad. The simple fact is, people can "be" anyone they choose to be online.
Accordingly, we ask that you use the following guidelines:
- Location: Always meet offline at a VERY PUBLIC PLACE. A busy coffee shop, restaurant or shopping mall would be good first meeting locations with members you have not met before. Never meet in a private home, hotel room or a remote location.
- Time: Meet during the day or early in the evening. Do not meet at odd hours.
- Safety in Numbers: Try to arrange or accept meetings with multiple members rather then with only one other member (e.g., include a minimum of at least two invitees on any invitation you post and/or only accept invitations that require at least two invitees). If possible, have another member you already know accept the same invitation as you so you can go with someone or inform the inviter in your acceptance that you would like to bring a friend. Please keep in mind it is possible for a member to create multiple profiles and then create an invitation that appears to be accepted by multiple people. Therefore, you should always meet at a VERY PUBLIC PLACE even if there are multiple members scheduled to attend the meeting.
- Stay in contact with Friends: Tell at least one friend or family member who and where you are meeting, and when you expect to return. Consider contacting your friend before and after the meeting or ask your friend to contact you at a predetermined time. If you have a mobile phone, make sure it's charged and take it with you to your meeting.
- Stay sober: Refrain from drinking excessively, as it could impair your ability to make good decisions and may put you at risk. Consider sticking to nonalcoholic drinks when meeting someone for the first time.
- Who's Paying: Our invitation format allows members to designate whether the inviter will pick up the tab (e.g. pay for the coffee), ask the invitee(s) to pay or, more commonly, have the participants share the cost or pay for themselves. Accordingly, when arriving at the meeting please clarify upfront with the other participants and, if possible, the waiter, what the payment responsibilities will be for the meeting participants. For example, if appropriate, consider informing the waiter that there will need to be a separate check for each participant at the meeting.
- Transportion: DON'T ask other member(s) to pick you up. Get yourself to and from the meeting, even if you have to have a friend drive you or take a taxi.
- Personal Belongings: DON'T leave personal belongings or drinks unattended at the meeting. Don't risk having your personal information stolen. The same goes for your drink -- don't risk having it tampered with.
- Accommodations: If traveling, always stay in a hotel. NEVER stay at the other member's home. Until you are comfortable with the other member(s), don't tell them exactly where you're staying.
- Be Smart: Do not be afraid to walk away if you feel you have been lied to in anyway or otherwise feel uncomfortable. People who have pure motives do not need to lie. Never trust those that do. If you discover they are lying to you, chances are they are lying to others too. Report them.
- Trust your gut. Immediately stop corresponding or leave the meeting when you feel unsure or threatened.
PROTECT YOUR PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION: What is "personally identifiable information"? It's information that could be used to identify or find you in real life. Personal information includes information such as your full name, street address, email address, telephone number and cell number. This information could be misused to steal your identity, guess your passwords, cyberstalk or harass you or otherwise cause you grief.
NEVER publicly post (e.g., in an invitation) ANY personally identifiable information. Remain anonymous until you feel safe and ready to exchange business cards or explore other options. MeetingWave.com gives you control over your networking experience, and allows you to protect your true identity until you choose to reveal it.
Choose a username that doesn't include your personally identifiable information. Don't include your real name or address (not even your city of residence) within your email address or in your username.
Use a third-party, anonymous email address. MeetingWave.com uses a "doubleblind" emailing system that conceals the members' email addresses. Even so, hackers can breach nearly any technology. As an added safety measure, set up a third-party email address expressly for on-line networking purposes and forward your MeetingWave.com emails there instead of to your personal email box. Make sure you turn off any signatures or identifying information in your e-mail. Moreover, consider using a P.O. Box for snail mail.
Use a firewall and anti-virus program and update them automatically. Some hacking programs and spyware can grab your passwords and credit card information.
Please don't include your real name or city of residence within your email address or in your username.
Keep your password a secret. Sharing it can create huge problems for you. Don't use a password that's easy for someone to guess, or use a password hint that others who know you might figure out. (Keeping your password on a note taped to your monitor at work is not a secure way to store your password.) Also, change it once in a while too.
Anonymizer e-mail services. Being online does not make you completely anonymous. There are ways that people use to discover real life information about the people they meet online. Sometimes the header code that automatically appears on the top of your e-mail, or when you post anything online, can tell people where you access the Internet, or where you work or go to school. If you are really worried that someone may try and track you back to your offline location, use an anonymizer e-mail or surfing service.
Avoid posting from work. Never post from work, unless you want your employer to know what your doing and saying. Many employers reserve the right to monitor all your electronic communications.
Never reply to ANY attempt to gain personal or banking information from an email that you did not originate. Many schemes exist to trick you into giving up your login and password information. "Phishing" is a scheme in which Internet users are sent an authentic-looking email from what appears to be a company you do business with, possibly your bank, online merchant or Internet service provider, asking you to confirm your personal or account information. The email claims that "Your account will be closed if you do not respond", or "Our computer files were lost and we need to verify your information" or many other variations on that theme. If you receive such an email, ignore it. No reputable bank, online merchant or Internet service provider will EVER ask you for your password via email or instant message or send you a link to their site if there is a "security breach." If you aren't sure if it's legitimate, exit your e-mail and type the real website address into your browser. Don't even cut and paste it in. If you are still worried about the email's authenticity, call the business supposedly sending the request on the telephone and authenticate your information that way.
If something sounds too good to be true, it is!! There is no-one in Nigeria who is actually going to give you 30 million bucks and you probably have not won a lottery in the UK worth millions. If someone is making you uncomfortable on email or instant messenger, most programs will let you BLOCK them. You don't have to talk to or meet with anyone you don't want to.
BE COURTEOUS AND REQUIRE COURTESY FROM OTHERS: Treat others with respect, and expect the same from them. Don't be obnoxious. Harassing people online is against the Terms of Service guidelines of just about every ISP. Do not harass others online or offline. If you do it can get your service revoked. Let the website know if one of their users is a problem. Most webmasters won't tolerate cyberbullying, identity theft, online harassment, or anything else that hurts other members. An excellent resource for just about anything online described above is www.wiredsafety.org. This online organization has a wealth of information on its website, and also has skilled and trained volunteers that can answer questions or assist you with cases of online stalking or harassment. (They are all unpaid volunteers who donate their time online to helping others. You may want to check out whether volunteering is for you by visiting their site.) If you see anything bad happen on MeetingWave.com, please contact us.
BLOCK ABUSERS. MeetingWave.com STRONGLY encourages you to ignore any member who behaves in an abusive manner and to report the behavior to MeetingWave.com.
Examples of abuse include:
- Members sending harassing or offensive emails
- Members behaving inappropriately after meeting in person
- Criminals or other "shady" characters using the service
- Fraudulent registration or profiles
- Offers to view porn sites, or to use 1-900 telephone services, or to join singles' sites
- Copyright or trademark infringement
- Members asking you for money or donations
If you ever feel like you're in real danger from someone online, tell someone you trust and then go directly to your local law enforcement agency. Don't delete the message. Also, a printout won't be enough. The police will need the live communication to check out the headers and other coding to trace the sender or poster.
A little common sense can go a long way online. Please keep it safe.