Most match-making websites, including Match.com and eHarmony, offer subscribers basic tips to ensure that online dating is as safe as possible.

It's important to follow some common-sense rules, including the following:

Use anonymous

contact tools

Most websites allow you to contact fellow subscribers without sharing your email or phone number.

Use these tools, and don't offer personal information like a home or cell phone number until you're more comfortable with an individual and feel ready to take that next step.

Chatting online can be a great way to screen potential dates with relatively low risk.

Trust your gut

It's not difficult to set up a fake profile with another person's photo and information. If something doesn't seem right while you're speaking with a potential date, stop talking and do not exchange more information.

Perhaps more importantly, never send money to someone who you've met online.

If you wouldn't offer $500 to a stranger you just met in the grocery store, don't agree to wire money to your new online friend who claims to desperately need money for rent or medical bills.

Meet in a public place

Your first date should take place in a public place. This isn't a time for romantic privacy you'll want others around in case you feel uncomfortable or need help.

Don't choose a secluded "public" place, either. Instead of agreeing to meet at the canal for a walk, ask to meet for coffee at a local diner.

Always tell at least one friend where you will be and when you plan to return.