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When Rat Pack singers croon about "strangers in the night," it sounds so romantic.But in the online dating world, meeting strangers can be scary and poses a whole host of challenges, among them money scams and identity theft.Last year alone, twice as many marriages occurred between men and women who met online than took place among couples who met in bars, clubs and at other social events combined.If you've been considering taking the plunge into Internet dating but aren't quite sure how to get started, here are my nine key tips to ensure that your experience is a positive, safe and successful one.• Tip #1: If you're not familiar with technology or unsure what to write on your profile, ask a younger friend, relative or co-worker to help you.Don't let a lack of familiarity keep you from participating in online dating.Many people wrongly assume that using an online dating service is the equivalent of throwing in the towel and screaming, "All right already, I'll do it - I'm desperate!" Actually, online dating is not for the desperate.

Leave a paper trail As tempting as it may be to rush into the first date before really getting to know each other online, gathering some basic information about your date is important.

Creating your online dating profile: protect your identity and personal information Be Anonymous - Choose a username that doesn’t let everyone know who you are.

Don't include your surname or any other identifying information such as your place of work either in your profile or when you first make contact.

These days you're in the minority if you don't know at least one person who met their current husband, wife or partner on an online dating site.

According to a recent survey, one in five people in a new committed relationship and one in six couples married during the last three years met their significant other using an online dating service.