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These tips are all pretty simple and straightforward, and most of them will seem like common sense to those who have been maintaining other online profiles -- even those that have nothing to do with dating -- for several years.

One of the first red flags that most people experience on an online dating website is the rush to communicate via instant messaging or email, using a medium that is completely outside the purview of the dating service itself.

The victim, known only as Jane Doe from Los Angeles, was on the Match.com-arranged date when she was raped.

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The day before, a Louisiana bill forbidding registered sex offenders from using social networking sites was approved by a state House committee.

(A similar bill was signed into law in Illinois in 2009 and put on hold in California in 2011.) Late last month, Match.com, e Harmony and the Spark Networks signed a “joint statement of business principles” to attempt to screen out registered sex offenders.

This is generally so that the sexual predator can escape the heavy and restrictive terms of service that forbid more illicit communications and revealing conversations.

Many sexual predators will also claim that they're "just passing through" or looking for a friend; they'll even sometimes ask for financial data and information, which should be a red flag even when dating is not involved.

According to a release from the attorney general’s office, “In 2011, 40 million Americans used an online dating service and spent more than $1 billion on online dating website memberships.

Be the best date prospect you can be because it’s all, well, massaged—the way an ad campaign is. If you can do it—in essence, perpetrate a bit of ‘online fraud’—guess who else can put their best self forward on online dating sites? And you thought canceled or inactive subscribers was bad! Thanks to attorney Mark Webb and California state attorney general, Kamala Harris, three of the larger online dating sites have agreed to provide online safety tools for daters including: checking subscribers against the national sex offender registries; providing an abuse reporting system for site members; providing proactive education about safe online dating practices; and providing tips on how to safely meet someone offline–as, after all, that’s the goal of an online meetup.

Imagine a little boy playing Xbox Live with a registered sex offender, a girl striking up a Facebook friendship with a child molester, a member going on a date with a convicted rapist.

These are just a few of the both real world and imagined scenarios that have inspired attempts in recent weeks to restrict registered sex offenders from social networking, virtual gaming and online dating.

This is a sad reality, and it's one that can endanger the wellbeing of many online daters, if they don't pay careful attention to the Mr. Right who contacts them via their profile at major dating websites.

Almost every major online dating website encourages its new users to read a few simple guidelines about online dating before they take their first steps into this virtual world of compatibility-matched meet-ups.

Stick a profile out there—write it up when you’re at your wittiest, have some friends edit it, find some pics and photoshop them, and you’re good to go.

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