The online dating industry keeps growing every year. According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of American adults use online dating platforms. Many of them are successful in establishing long-term romantic relationships as a result. However, statistics surrounding date rape and scams related to online dating sites are alarmingly high. While most platforms take privacy and safety seriously, users need to take serious steps to protect themselves.
Even before creating your dating profile, use Check People to run a background check on yourself. Is your telephone number or address easily accessible? How about privacy settings regarding your social media profiles? Protecting your personal information is the first step to staying safe throughout your online dating adventure.
Reportedly, almost ten percent of dating profiles are fake. So after you swipe right and begin a conversation, get into research mode. Again, go to Check People for a quick and accurate background search that includes identity verification, criminal records, sex offender registries, and marital status.
A common red flag when it comes to online dating is people who want to move extremely fast. Sometimes, this means professing their love before a first meeting or pressuring you for a date outside the virtual world. Dating, online, or offline, is a process that requires patience. So keep things on the dating site for as long as you need, and never disclose personal details (including your full name) during the first interactions. A very important step before agreeing to a first date is a video call (for identity verification purposes). If your potential date refuses or constantly postpones the video call, stop all interactions, and move on.
Is your match on the military, on duty in a foreign country? Is he building schools in impoverished communities and need your help? Maybe they are sick and need a loan for hospital bills, or desperately want to meet, but live far away and have no money for transportation. These are all known scams. The best way to avoid being a victim is to never agree to send money to someone you met online, even after the first few dates (some scammers take their time to build trust before attacking). Also, never disclose your social security number, financial details, or your home address, as this information can be used for identity theft purposes. Red flags that indicate you are interacting with a scammer or a dangerous person may include:
- Harassing or offensive messages
- Messages outside the dating site without your express permission
- Attempts to sell products or services
- Requesting photographs
- Very elaborate messages that read like a script
If you see any of these, end interactions and report the issue to the platform.
According to safety experts, here’s what you’ll need to cover for a safe date:
- Keep the first dates in public places, preferably those in which staff knows you and can help if things go wrong.
- Drive yourself to and from the date, or use public transportation.
- Meet early and finish the date early.
- Tell someone else where you’ll be, and ask them to check-in with you at least once during the date. Some experts even recommend bringing someone along who can sit at another table but be there in case you need help.
- Be mindful of what you drink. This not only means to stay sober, but also to not leave your beverage unattended, or drink something that you did not open, or did not order (remember date rape drugs?).
- If you feel endangered in any way, ask for help, and leave immediately. Trust your instincts.
- Don’t let them walk you or accompany you home.
Dating should be exciting and fun. If you are in a relationship that makes you feel scared, ashamed, or sad, seek help.