Online dating has grown exponentially over the last few decades. In fact, websites like Tinder had more than 70 million active users per month in 2020. Tinder was also able to generate 65 billion matches in 2021. Therefore, it’s clear that platforms like Tinder are one of the most-used dating tools. That said, online dating can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
Some alarming data suggests that more than 15,000 abductions happen each year from online predators. Additional data suggests that 10% of all sex offenders use dating websites, which increases the risk of sexual assault and pedophilia. Unfortunately, the dangers only get worse. For example, scammers have found ways to steal money from people through online dating websites. On average, between $30 and $50 million is stolen from people each year using dating websites.
Fortunately, online dating doesn’t have to be dangerous. We’re going to take you through some of the common dangers and how to stay safe when dating online.
Top 5 Dangers of Online Dating
Online dating is dangerous. While you can meet someone through websites like eharmony or Tinder, there are some risks you need to be aware of. We’ll cover each risk and provide you with statistics to help you understand the extent of online dating danger.
1. Physical Harm
The worst danger of online dating websites is the potential for violence. When meeting with strangers, almost anything can happen. Sure, a date can go well, but what’s the alternative? In many cases, online dating is used by predators who intend to harm others. Some alarming statistics show that around 100 murders per year originate from online dating websites. There are also thousands of abductions, instances of domestic violence, and cases of sexual assault.
Because of the danger, you need to be careful when meeting someone. Unfortunately, this is more dangerous for women, which is why bringing some type of protection is recommended.
2. Financial Scams
Every year, almost $50 million is stolen from people through online dating websites. What makes this worse, is that this number doesn’t account for money stolen from people who took their relationship off of the platform. In these cases, some surveys estimate that between $60 and $100 million can be lost each year from online dating.
For these reasons, it’s important to avoid giving out banking information or social security numbers online. You should also avoid lending money to someone through platforms like Venmo, Zelle, or CashApp. Sending money through these platforms can lead to you never getting it back.
Catfishing is one of the biggest issues with online dating. According to some reports, more than half of Americans who use online dating websites stretch the truth on their profile. Some examples include their age, height, and weight. While these are smaller and less significant examples of catfishing, it’s catfishing nonetheless.
That said, catfishing becomes more dangerous when a person you’re interacting with isn’t the person their profile displays. People can make fake profiles with different names and contact information. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, some states have more than 1,000 cases of catfishing each year. While some catfish are harmless, others can be dangerous.
4. STD/STI Transmission
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are also something you need to worry about when using online dating platforms. Sleeping with people you’re unfamiliar with increases the risk of contracting an STD, which is why online dating websites increase the risk of contracting one. According to the National Institutes of Health, women are 42.6% more likely to develop an STD when using online dating websites. Furthermore, websites like Tinder don’t speak out about the risks of contracting diseases from people on the platform.
One of the lesser-known dangers of online dating is rejection. With many people failing to get matches on websites like Tinder, constant rejection can hurt. It can cause people to feel discouraged, less attractive, and even worthless. It’s similar to posting something on social media and not getting any likes, especially when you see thousands of people online getting plenty of matches.
The only way to avoid these problems is to verify who you’re speaking with by using a people search engine.
5 Ways To Protect Yourself When Online Dating
Online dating can be a great way to meet someone as long as you protect yourself. While there are risks, there are plenty of ways to mitigate the dangers of online dating. Below are five of the best methods to help you stay safe on online dating websites.
1. Research Your Matches With a People Search Engine
One of the best ways to stay safe on an online dating website is to use a people search engine, like Information.com. People search engines can help you find information about almost anyone, as long as they’re legitimate. So, if someone doesn’t appear in a people search engine’s results, that’s your first red flag.
Using a people search engine to stay safe is also simple. All you need is a person’s first and last name. With their first and last name, you can enter them into the search bar to get the results. The results come in the form of a report, which is a collection of information from public records databases. People search engines are legal to use as long as you follow the guidelines created by the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA).
Some of the information you can find from a people search engine includes:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Criminal record
- Traffic violations
- Court records
- Sex offender status
- Social media profiles
Using the information you find with a people search engine, you can verify someone’s identity.
2. Use Trusted Platforms
Another great way to stay safe when using an online dating website is to only use trusted platforms. Trusted platforms verify their users and monitor messages and social activity. Websites that monitor this activity are less likely to have scammers and fake profiles.
Some great platforms to get started with include:
While some other websites are safe, the ones listed above have the most consistent reviews.
3. Don’t Get Too Personal Before You Meet Them
Matching with someone on an online dating profile can feel exhilarating; it’s nice to have someone take an interest in you. However, never jump the gun and provide personal details before you verify their information. If you’d like to meet with someone, make sure you trust them first. Also, avoid giving out your address and banking information on online dating platforms.
While meeting someone is a great way to verify if they’re legitimate, financial online dating scams can take weeks, months, or years to develop. So, make sure you trust the person you’re seeing and run a background check on them using a people search engine.
4. Block Suspicious Profiles
Online dating profiles have millions of members. For example, eharmony has more than 10 million active users. While many people use online dating websites to meet someone, this isn’t always the case. Always keep an eye out for suspicious profiles and block accounts that threaten you.
Some things to look for include profiles with:
- Only one photo
- No links to social media
- A short bio
- Pictures that don’t match their age
- Strange names
- Non-native English (many grammar mistakes)
Spotting profiles with these issues can help you identify a scammer or otherwise nefarious user. You should also avoid clicking strange links that appear in your messages.
5. Always Have Protection
When meeting with someone from an online dating website, always bring protection. Protection can come in the form of sexual protection (condoms) or physical protection. Physical protection can be pepper spray, a personal keychain alarm, a small weapon, or even providing your friends with your location.
When you have protection, you can defend yourself from an aggressor and reduce the risk of catching a sexually transmitted disease. That said, you should use a people search engine before meeting someone as the first line of defense.
Protect Yourself Online Today
Online dating is dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be. You might be eager to meet with someone who’s taken an interest in you, but with a little bit of patience, you can determine if that’s a good idea. We always recommend using a people search engine, like the one found on Information.com, to verify someone’s online dating profile. Taking a few minutes to compile a report can be the difference between death and romance.
So, stay safe out there and always proceed with caution when using online dating websites. As long as you verify everyone’s information, you can enjoy these platforms without taking any risks. Plus, you might even find the one.