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killers on dating apps - safety tips to avoid them
Safety & security

3 ways to screen out killers, stalkers and other threats on dating apps

Killers use social apps as hunting grounds. Last Friday, Oregon authorities arrested a man for torturing a woman he found on a dating app. Police say he held her captive and beat her into unconsciousness.

The woman is in critical condition at an Oregon hospital — but many victims don’t survive. If you’re using dating apps, you must protect yourself.

After all, you can’t trust Big Tech to prioritize your safety over profit. Meta kept quiet when a killer targeted a Facebook group for new mothers. Be proactive with the following strategies to stay safe.

1. Verify your match’s identity

The first way to avoid dangerous people on dating apps is to Google them. Whenever you match with someone, use a reverse image search to look up their photos. Here’s how:

  • Screenshot photos of the profile and save them to a desktop. Use full images rather than cropped thumbnails.
  • Upload the photos to Google Images and hit the camera icon to run a search.
  • Using a smartphone? We can help you do a reverse image search on your iPhone or Android.

Remember: If you get no results, the profile could still be fake. Type your match’s name into a search engine, along with their city and state. Look them up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to ensure the pictures on their dating app match the ones on other accounts.

2. Check their criminal records

This is public information. Google your state and “court records.” Government websites will help you search for your match’s name.

Look through the public records. If you see any restraining orders, cut off communication immediately. Stalking is an escalating behavior that will only get worse with time.

Can’t find anything? Look up their phone number on a database like Social Catfish, RocketReach or USA People Search. Here are some of the internet’s most popular people search sites — along with instructions to remove your information!

They probably use a false identity if their name isn’t attached to their phone number.

3. Talk before you meet

Schedule a video call over FaceTime, Zoom or another app. This is good for three reasons:

  • See how you get along: Chemistry is clear, even through a screen. If the conversation flows, that’s a good sign your in-person date will be successful.
  • You can spot a catfish: A catfish is someone who sets up a fake online profile to trick people looking for love, usually to scam them. Be wary of apps and filters, which can disguise identities. Watch out for deep fakes, too.
  • You can spot red flags: Listen closely for mean-spirited comments. If they put you down in any way, that’s a sign of how they’ll treat you.

While you’re at it, watch out for derisive comments about people they disagree with. If you meet in person, they might be hostile when you share your opinions.

Use your best judgment and analyze their behavior. Do they speak normally or clearly? If they seem to be under the influence, cancel the date.

Be careful during the date, too

You should be vigilant when you meet up. Always pick a public place, like a restaurant, museum or coffee shop. Don’t go to a second location. Also, tell your friends where you’re going. Text them if you feel unsafe. Here’s how to share your location so your loved ones can see where you are.

Too many people enter dangerous situations because they’re afraid of seeming rude. Predators use politeness as a weapon. They’ll try to convince you that going to a dark, private place with no witnesses is normal. If you try to say no, they’ll act like you’re being irrational. You’re not. You’re being careful.

Follow your instincts. If you feel like something is off, stay away. Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” can teach you how to trust your gut.

This safety book explains how your intuition helps you survive. After reading it, you’ll be able to recognize when your brain is telling you to be afraid — and what to do about it. It’s one of those rare books with valuable lessons you can apply to all areas of your life.

What to do if you have to cut the date off

Leave at the first hint of danger. You can say there’s an emergency or go to the restroom and leave. If you need to cut off communication, unmatch or block them.

You can even report them to customer service and ban them so they can’t hurt other people. If you’ve already exchanged numbers, block them on your phone. Use this trick to block unwanted calls or messages — including scammers and spammers.

We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

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