Nine in 10 Americans are using online dating platforms nowadays, when meeting your significant other online is not a stigmatized act anymore. If you would have told someone you’ve met your partner online 20 years ago, eyebrows would raise as you would have gotten disapproving looks. Things changed a lot in the last 20 years and now a survey by Pew Research showed that one in five adults aged between 25-35 are looking for their partner online and two thirds of them had actually dated the people they met online.
Online dating is the second most common way to find your partner, following being introduced by a common friend. The billion dollar industry built with help from the 50 million Tinder users has changed the dynamics of dating and marriage, increasing the your chance to stumble upon a dangerous person. You can never know who is hiding behind an online dating profile. The number of people who are setting up fake profiles, luring honest people into a scam only to have fun, harm them or else, is growing and it also has a name: catfish scam.
This comes with a new problem: how can you be sure the person you know online is the same person you are going to meet offline? We’ve all heard horror stories and lots of online-love-gone-wrong experiences, so before you decide what to wear to your date, you might want to background check your new date. Here are some ways to find out if your online date is lying to you or is just enhancing his/her background to impress you.
The basic: Google
The simplest check you can do on your date is a simple Google search. There are multiple ways to look for someone: you can try using the full name of the person you are looking for, quotation marks, aliases and even emails. If you can’t find anything searching for the full name, you can try putting it between quotation marks. If this is not successful, add the person’s alias to the name. You can also add the email, the school or the home town – any information you know about that person can be useful.
Run a criminal record check
Ok, this sounds frightening, but you should conduct a criminal record check on your date, especially if you suspect something is not right or you think everything is too good to be true. Depending on the country, you need the name and the birthday of the person. Most countries and states allow you to run an online check on the local court’s website, while others ask for you to come in person. If you live in America and you have suspicions on your date’s background, it might be a good idea to run a criminal record check in multiple states.
Social media check
There is a fine line between checking someone’s social media presence and stalking him/her, but you should try to find out more about your potential date. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the best sources for information, but don’t neglect other social media platforms either. You can use your date’s name, alias, telephone or email address, as well as a mix between these or all of them, to be sure you have the right person in front of you.
Reverse phone lookup
If you only have an alias or a common name and a phone number, you can do a reverse phone lookup. This is going to show you the name, address and other information about the person you are searching. Reverse phone lookups can also be done on Google and Facebook, but you should first try a specialized platform.
One’s online activity can speak a lot about that person, so you should be able to understand your potential partner better. If there are any red flags about him or her, you can take someone with you when you first date that person or you can simply give up on the date altogether. Your safety is always more important. If the steps above fail you, ask around and try to find information from people who might know the person you are “investigating”. Your potential date is going to find out about your research – don’t worry about this. They should be happy to know you are cautious and you were interested enough to want to know more about them before meeting in person.