The Dangers of Online Dating

Tens of millions of single men and women join, and log on to, online dating sites each day, each believing their effort to find love and companionship is safe; but, is anyone really safe?  To make it clear, there haven’t been any hard studies to get real numbers of domestic-violence incidents or attacks as a result of online dating, so it’s hard to say that online dating mediums pose more of a threat than traditional dating always has.  However, with the national media coverage of several recent online dating murders, we feel it’s important to stress the importance of protecting yourself when you engage in online dating.

So, how do you protect yourself?  Bruce Anderson, director of Cyber Intelligence and Investigations, encourages online daters to conduct online searches and background checks.  “You should always do a background check on the person that you are dating,” Anderson told FoxNews.com.  Doing so is a wise move as most online dating sites do not conduct one.  Under Match.com’s “Terms of Use Agreement,” you’ll find the following legal language:

“You are solely responsible for your interactions with other members.  You understand that the company currently does not conduct criminal background checks or screenings on its members.  The company also does not inquire into the backgrounds of all of its members or attempt to verify the statements of its members.  The company makes no representations or warranties as to the conduct of members or their compatibility with any current or future members.  The company reserves the right to conduct any criminal background check or other screenings (such as sex offender register searches), at any time and using available public records.”

A well-known lifestyle and consumer reporter for several national news outlets paid for online background checks and discovered that on one reputable online dating site alone, eight out of 10 men had lied on their resumes (only men were included as the reporter was female).  According to Online Dating Magazine, “there are approximately 2,500 online dating sites in the United States”.  Now, let’s assume there are 100 male members on each of these sites, and eight out of 10 of those men have also lied on their resumes on each of the 2,500 sites.  That’s 200,000 out of 250,000 male members who are not exactly who they represent themselves to be.  This number is more than alarming, and proves that by not properly looking into someone to make sure they are who they say they are, you open yourself up to a number of dangers, including: rape, kidnapping, and robbery.

Protect yourself from online dating predators, by following these simple tips:

  1. Practice online security by using a separate email account for online dating (don’t use your real name as part of this email address, and make sure any “signature” features are turned off)
  2. Meet in a public place
  3. Let others know of your plans
  4. Pay your own way
  5. Dress for success (so that you don’t send an overly sexual or provocative message)
  6. Never let your guard down
  7. Trust your instincts