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Defensive Dating in the Age of Cyber-Cheating

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Here are some new products and services for the spy-vs.-spy travails of defensive daters. Whether they help or hurt your chances of finding a companion, that's up to you to decide.

1. A Phone Number You Can Give Anyone

Would you give a stranger your home phone number? A lot of women would be just as likely to hang a sign on the front door that says, "Stalkers Welcome."

Nowadays, even giving out a cell phone number can be risky. Several Web sites are offering to dig through databases and sell the billing address of cellular customers.

Those fears have given rise to — a service that provides an untraceable, toll-free phone number that you can set up in minutes to chat with that guy who read your online profile and sent such charming e-mails.

"When you meet someone online, the curiosity starts building fast to hear that person's voice and it's hard to resist," says Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert and author of "The Safety Minute."

Now, for 15 cents a minute, your Romeo can call's phone bank, punch in the code you've given him, and the call will be forwarded to wherever you want to take the call.

You can change your forwarding number in seconds, if you're traveling or at work. Theoretically, you don't have to give out any of your phone numbers. Perhaps that's something you'd like to exchange with your spouse on your wedding day.

2. Online Dating for Wannabe Cupids and Cyber Wingmen
Before, everybody played matchmaker. When you needed a date, you could turn to a friend for setups. Moms kept tabs on neighbors with single kids. Someone at work knew someone who knew someone who was just perfect for you.

Now, the recently launched is carving out a role for friends and family in the nebulous world of Internet dating.

To fix up a son or daughter, friend or neighbor, the would-be matchmaker just logs on and trades information with other matchmakers about the people for whom they're playing Cupid.

"The people who love you are your best advocates. When you go to a party and meet someone, your friend acts as your wingman — the person who is there to make you look good," says Trish McDermott, a former vice president at

"Now, there's a place in online dating for all your wingmen."

While other sites have turned to background searches and psychological tests, McDermott feels involving friends and family engenders good behavior. Do you really want to make your mother or best friend look bad by not picking up the check or standing someone up?

After the date, each matchmaker gets rated, so they can build up their reputation as pre-eminent yentas. The site is now free. In a few months, daters will be charged, but only if they're willing to listen to someone they love and let themselves get fixed up.