Background screening and personal safety make your date a safe bet
Who are you going out with on Feb. 14? Nearly 20 percent of Americans use or have used online dating as a means to find a date. Tinder, Happn, Bumble, OkCupid…all of these apps can lead to a date this Valentine’s Day. But, we’ve been around long enough to know two essential things about taking an online date to an in-person meet up.
- People misrepresent themselves on every dating app. Ever.
- Safety must be paramount on your date, even over romance.
It’s a bit of a joke that your online profile is far better than you in real life…even the kid’s movie "Transylvania 3" jokes about it. But, the divide between the reality and the person shown can be frightening. In September, even the online dating service Match.com was sued for posting fake profiles—allegedly, they posted fake amazing people to trick users into paying for a subscription to their site. In the FTC report, also 25 to 30 percent of Match.com members are using the site to deceive—employing everything from romance scams to extortion.
So, the wrong choice could lead to more than just a horrifying date across the table—it could also lead to financial and reputational loss. But, in many cases the bad date has been more than just unattractive—they have also been dangerous.
Online dating is not safe, physically and, in many cases, financially.
Columbia Journalism Investigations released a report on 150 sexual assaults tied to dating apps, and they pointed out that although dating apps are aware that predators are using their apps, they’re doing little to stop them or protect their users. Dating sites spokespersons state that the proportion of users who suffer sexual assault at the hands of their online date is small. But, if you’re the one, that assault is devastating.
Just last year, romance scams ranked number one on the FTC’s list of total reported losses to fraud. The Commission’s Consumer Sentinel complaint database received more than 21,000 reports about romance scams, and people reported losing a total of $143 million in 2018.
Stay Safe this Valentine’s Day
Once you’ve chosen your date for the evening, take the time to run a background check. All you need is your date’s name and birthday, and you can run a quick check in the sex offender registry (Texas). You’ll see their full name, photo and age. If it’s a match, cancel and stay in for the evening. Also, if you suspect something, if the date asks for money, or if they begin asking lots of personal, and possibly incriminating questions, leave. Don’t hesitate. To use an old saying, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Choose wisely, and you’ll have another chance to catch the right one.