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Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Friends Central is a fun, safe way to meet new people. But, catching up in person is a slightly different story – there are always precautions you should take. Have a read of our tips below and our website Code of Ethics.

Above all: Remember to trust your instincts.

Online/General Tips

Make sure you read profiles carefully

Friends Central members edit their profiles to include the information they want you to know. When you’re looking at a potential friend, make sure you read their profile thoroughly – if anything makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t communicate with them. If you need to, you can block a member. That stops them from viewing your profile or contacting you. If you want to see the people you’ve blocked, look in your Settings menu in your profile.

Friends Central is a place to find New Zealand friends – if you suspect a person is located in another country, please alert us immediately through our contact form.

Protect your privacy

Of course we recommend personalising your profile, but there are a few things to be careful about. Don’t reveal your surname, email address, home address, or any phone numbers UNTIL you completely trust the person you’re chatting with. If someone’s pressuring you for information, please let us know through our contact form.

Keep your financial information to yourself

Your bank account details are yours and yours alone – don’t ever reveal your account details or offer your credit card number to anyone even if it seems they have a good reason. Don’t ever send money to people you have met through Friends Central. If another member asks for money, please tell us immediately through our contact page.

Use our contact page to report any problems

As we’ve said, if you spot any behaviours from Friends Central members which you think are suspicious, please use our contact form to report it. If you see any inappropriate or offensive content shared, please report it – we will investigate any complaint.

Messaging

When you message someone on Friends Central, all the person can see is the details you’ve provided on your profile. The only way another member can learn your details is by you sharing them personally. On messenger, inappropriate language is unacceptable. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about someone, then stop returning messages. Get another friend to check your messages and see if they pick up on anything. Keep chatting on site until you’re ready to move on to the next stage of friendship.

Ask to see photos

A picture speaks a thousand words, so do have a careful look at photos sent. Does the picture look legit, or borrowed from another site? You do have the right to ask for more than one photo if you’re unsure. The background of the photo often says a lot about a person – what does it show? If you’ve been chatting with someone for a while but they won’t show you a photo, do treat it as suspicious.

NEXT STEP – TIPS FOR PHONE CALLS

So the messaging has gone well! You’d like to progress to the next step… We suggest calling first before meeting up.

Call me, maybe

Yes, speaking to someone can give you great insight into who a person is and how they interact. But don’t force it – only call if or when you feel comfortable. Also there is no hurry to meet once you have started talking on the phone.

Giving out your number

Unless you’re ready for a call, don’t pass your phone number on to anyone! Perhaps you could offer to make contact yourself. If you’re concerned about sharing your number, you can also choose to turn off your caller ID from your mobile phone before calling (then your number won’t show up). Using a landline? Dial ‘#31#’ before any number will block your caller ID to the receiver.

What if the call doesn’t go well?

You’re under no obligation! It was just a phone call, so if you’re not comfortable there’s no need to take things any further.

TIPS FOR MEETING UP

If you’re confident you’d like to meet your new friend, great! Even if you’re meeting in person, you can still retain some anonymity. Remember your gut instinct – you don’t need to be overly nervous about safety, but do be careful until you feel you can trust them.

Tell a friend

Let friends and family know you’re meeting a new person and where you’re headed . Even let them know you’ll text them by a certain time when the meeting’s over, just so they know you’re safe.

Try not to drive

Maybe get someone to drop you to your meet up – this means they’ll know where you’re going. Or you could also take public transport if you want to keep your car anonymous. If you must drive, find a parking spot that’s not within sight of the venue but is still in a busy spot. At this stage, don’t let the person pick you up from your home.

Keep it public

If possible meet during the day and at a location where there are plenty of others around. If you go to a restaurant or bar, never leave your drink unattended.

Keep your phone handy

Keep your purse or wallet with you at all times and your mobile charged and with you. If you want an extra feeling of security, have someone text or call during the meet up with a secret signal for them to come collect you if need be.

Pick up on personal details

When you first meet the person, take a quick mental note of their car, clothes, and any other obvious personal details.

Don’t feel under pressure to catch up again

There’s no need to pass on contact details or make promises to meet again – you can still get in contact via Friends Central messenger. Both give yourselves some space after the first catch up to figure out whether you really want to continue this friendship, then message them.

Feeling uncomfortable? Make an exit

Don’t continue hanging out if you feel uncomfortable – make your apologies and leave. If you feel threatened in any way, excuse yourself and seek assistance if you need it.

OTHER TIPS

Think about boundaries

People should be here for friendship only. But even then some personal boundaries are still appropriate. You know what feels right – remember that gut instinct.

If something happens in a meeting which you feel wasn’t okay, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust about it. Also make sure you report any inappropriate behaviour to us through our contact form and we can advise you if you need to take next steps.

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