Our post today is a guest post from Ryan Currie. Ryan is a Product Manager at Spokeo, a leader in people search and reverse phone lookup services. In addition to working on Spokeo, he also enjoys history, pop culture, and following the latest new in the movie industry.
Online dating is the best thing to happen to romance since the invention of chocolate – never before has it been easier to meet and mingle with eligible single people! But with this access comes a challenge: how can women stay safe when using online dating sites?
Between the “Craigslist Killer” and “Catfishing” there is no shortage of scary stories about online meetings gone wrong. At the end of the day, how safe is online dating and what can you do to keep yourself from harm’s way?
A Few Statistics About Online Dating
Online dating is incredibly pervasive. Records are difficult to come by and every site has its own method for reporting data, but here are a few generally accepted stats regarding online dating safety:
• Nearly 40 million people in the US say they have tried online dating
• Online dating is the number one way people over 50 meet other singles their age
• Men are 40% more likely to reach out to a woman online than women to men
• The most common reasons people lie on dating sites include weight, income, and lifestyle
• Some studies estimate over 25% of sexual predators use online dating sites to find victims
• Most online dating sites do not explicitly confirm identities or perform background checks on members
What You Can Do to Stay Safe Online
As a woman, online dating doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. There are a few things you can and should do to protect yourself that don’t take a lot of extra effort.
Don’t give out too much information. First and foremost, know that online predators are looking for victims who unwittingly give away too much data. Keep your phone number, your address, and even your birthdate off your online dating profile to avoid that information falling into the wrong hands.
Do your own research. As you chat with other singles, don’t rely on your dating site to check your match’s background. Although some sites do run criminal background checks on all members, it’s probably smart to do your own criminal records search and to do a reverse phone look up once you get more serious to confirm the identity of who you’re talking to.
Trust your gut. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. In the world of online dating it’s all too easy to hide behind a screen so if someone peaks your suspicions, use extra caution. It’s a smart idea to use excess caution with any strangers you meet online, not just love interests.
How to Stay Safe When Meeting Online Love Interests
Once things progress, you’ll likely want to meet for a date in real life. This is often the stage in which things become most dangerous for women as they must give out location and identifying information in preparation to meet. Here are a few things you can do to stay safe during an online dating meet up:
1. Choose a neutral location for the meet up that will be public and well-lit. Great options include coffee shops, restaurants, or festivals.
2. Always drive yourself to the date and do not allow the other party to drive (or follow) you home until you feel sure they’re not a safety risk.
3. Never drink too much on a date with a stranger to avoid allowing your inhibitions to be dulled.
4. Tell a friend where you’ll be going on the date and call them when you get home. If you don’t call, ask the friend to contact the authorities.
Online dating isn’t inherently dangerous, but you have to know how to protect yourself before you jump in the singles pool. If you’re a woman considering dating websites to meet a match keep these things in mind and stay safe out there!