In the United States, online dating sites have seen explosive growth in new users over the past decade. What was once considered a strange or desperate way to meet someone is now the accepted norm for dating. The stigma has been removed, and online dating sites are now seen as the primary way to meet your next date.
Adults of all ages are turning to the vast number of online dating sites to look for their next romantic partner. Widespread acceptance does not mean that online dating is without problems. There are few safety measures in place to verify the actual identity of those who make profiles on dating sites, so safety is a concern when meeting in person.
Running a background check on your online date provides a measure of safety that you know who it is you are meeting. Some sites only require a first and last name, and a city, to complete a full background check.
A background check should be done during the “get to know you” phase of the online relationship. Before you invest hours in getting to know this person online, and definitely before you meet face to face, invest a few minutes in running a background check for the peace of mind that they are who they claim to be.
Why You Need to Protect Yourself Online
When you meet someone online, you can start to feel like you know them well because of the amount of time invested in online communication. However, the downside to online dating is that you are only getting to know what the person chooses to reveal about themselves. They can easily hide a nasty temper, a criminal history, or the fact that they are married.
As the multi-billion dollar online dating industry has grown, so has the number of ways people have found to misuse the platforms. There are untold fake profiles set up expressly to lure honest people into a dangerous scam or worse. The practice is called catfishing, and it is virtually impossible to stop.
There are also other dangers associated with online dating. Minors who are under the age of consent can easily portray themselves as years older than their actual age. There are even reports of minors setting up such profiles, luring adults into asking for photos, then sending provocative pictures that could get the other person in trouble, or blackmailing the unsuspecting adult.
How to Protect Yourself in Online Dating
Online dating is not all dark and scary. Many people have met their life partners through online dating sites, and the practice is here to stay. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from the dangers of online dating, and they start before you even progress to meeting in person.
1. Use the information on the background check to make sure the person you are talking to is honest about the big things in their background. You also want to know they did not use a fake name, rendering the background check useless. You can do this by using the information on the background check to ask leading questions.
Ask them where they worked last. If their answer doesn’t match the report, that is a red flag. You can also ask about the places they used to live or where they went to college. If the discrepancies start to pile up, beware that you may be talking to someone using a false identity.
2. Avoid sending or requesting provocative photos. You never know how those photos will be used, and once you send them over the internet or via text message, you can never retrieve them.
3. Do not give the person you are talking to your address. Stalking is a real problem, and internet dating is a treasure trove of information for potential stalking.
4. Once both of you have decided to meet in person, do so in a public place. Keep the first meeting low-key and casual, preferably during the day time. Meet for coffee, or a Saturday brunch for your first get together.
5. Bring your own transportation and make sure someone knows where you are going and who you are meeting. Even better, have a friend come along for the first time you meet.
By following a few simple steps to ensure your safety, you reduce the chances of finding yourself in a difficult or dangerous situation from online dating. You can take safety seriously and still enjoy the fun of getting to know new people through online dating.