“The Dangers of Online Dating” — (7 Statistics & 5 Ways to Protect Yourself)

Online Dating

“The Dangers of Online Dating” — (7 Statistics & 5 Ways to Protect Yourself)

Brittney Mayer Brittney Mayer
Updated:

The dangers of online dating don’t just include things like being ghosted or heartbroken — there are actual risks involved in meeting strangers online, and it’s important to go into it with your eyes open and alert to potential threats.

We’re big proponents of online dating, but we understand how it can be a scary thing to do. You’re putting yourself out there in front of millions of people, and you’re never really 100% sure if you’ll have a good time or get majorly creeped out on a first date.

As with anything in life, there can be some risks with online dating, but there can also be a lot of rewards — like the possibility of falling in love. We want singles to be informed about the potential dangers of online dating so they can avoid them and have a safe, successful experience. Here are some statistics about romance scams — and five ways you can protect yourself from potential predators on dating sites and apps.

Online Dating Dangers: Statistics | Ways to Protect Yourself

Online Dating Dangers: Statistics

While online dating is an established industry (having started in the ’90s), it’s far from perfect. Many people have used online dating as an avenue to love and romance, but some have seen it as a way to con people out of their money. When you’re dealing with matters of the heart, that can put people in a vulnerable position, and unfortunately, scammers know how to take advantage of that. Here are seven statistics to keep in mind when you’re looking for a hookup, friendship, date, relationship, marriage, or any other type of companionship.

1. About 10% of Sex Offenders Use Dating Sites

According to Phactual, one in 10 sex offenders is on a dating site to meet new people — while 25% of rapists use online dating to find their victims. If you’re worried about one of your online matches, you can refer to the National Sex Offender Public Website’s sex offender registry, where you can search by name and location.

2. On Free Dating Sites, 1 in 10 Users are Scammers

In that same article by Phactual, the company Marketdata Enterprises Inc. says 10% of profiles on free dating sites are fake. This brings up a good point. Some free dating services are less trustworthy than the ones you have to pay for because anyone and everyone can join. And sometimes sites unethically pad their numbers by allowing inactive accounts to stay in the search and matching results.

Photo of fake dating profiles

According to Marketdata Enterprises Inc., one in 10 profiles on free dating sites are fake.

People who are serious about meeting that special someone will often buy a monthly subscription as proof of their commitment and genuine intentions. Scammers aren’t nearly so invested.

Other signs of a phony profile include extremely poor grammar, spelling mistakes, a lack of pictures and pertinent information, and over-the-top flattery early on in the conversation.

3. Every Year, 16,000 Abductions, 100 Murders & Thousands of Rapes are Committed by Online Predators

Internet Predator Stats found online predators commit around 16,000 abductions, 100 murders, and thousands of rapes each year. These are terrifying numbers, but once again, the tips in this article are here to help protect you and your loved ones and lower that number to zero.

4. In 2011, Cons Involving Money Cost Victims More Than $50 Million

We mentioned earlier that the most common scam that occurs on dating sites probably involves money. CreditDonkey, a data-driven finance and jeweler comparison site, says that in 2011 alone, online con artists duped their victims out of more than $50 million in money and property. Lots of the time their story will be that they’re in a foreign country and don’t have the means to pay for travel expenses to come see you. Be wary!

5. Over 53% of Americans Exaggerate Part of Their Profile

An infographic created by eharmony shows that more than half of Americans fabricate some or all of their dating profiles — a statistic attributed to the global research agency Opinionmatters. Age, height, weight, and income are just some of the characteristics people beef up to make themselves look and sound more attractive.

6. Half of Online Daters are Already in a Relationship, While 11% are Married

Hand in hand with the statistic above is the fact that 62% of people lie about their current relationship status, according to the lifestyle blog The Bittersweet Life. About 51% of online daters are already in a long-term commitment and 11% are already married.

Photo of a man taking his wedding ring off

Research shows that 62% of online daters are already in a relationship and lie about it.

Remember that rings come off, people! It’s OK to ask questions and do some research if you’re worried someone isn’t being 100% honest with you.

7. Sex on the First Offline Date: 4 Out of 5 Women Don’t Use Protection

We’re back to Phacutal’s research, which cites that 33% of women have sex on the first date they met with someone online, but that’s not really the bad news (people can do whatever they want with their bodies). The bad news comes with the second part of that stat — four out of five don’t use protection. It’s important to stay safe both online and offline!

Ways to Protect Yourself When You’re Online Dating

Even though the statistics we just went through can be scary, don’t let them get to you and prevent you from trying online dating. Instead, take that information and let it inform your actions and decisions online. There are tons of things you can do to stay safe and still meet a genuine match. Just follow the advice below.

1. Use a Trusted Site

The number one thing you should do when you’re just starting to online date is to research the options — don’t just choose the first one you come across. Forbes reports that there are almost 8,000 dating sites in the world, so you have a lot of selections to browse through.

The ones you can trust are the ones your family members, friends, and co-workers have recommended, the ones you’ve heard the success stories about, the ones that have conducted their own studies and done interviews with reputable media outlets (like Forbes), and the ones you’ve seen on commercials. Things like that.

We’ve been covering this industry for a very long time, so we can confidently say these are the top three sites that will put your safety above everything else:

★★★★★
4.9/5.0

Relationships: Friends, Dates, and Relationships

Match System: Browse by zip, age, appearance, more

Our Experts Say: “Match has facilitated the most dates and relationships of any dating site, and its large audience and high success rate make it our top review...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

★★★★★
4.7/5.0

Relationships: Serious Relationships

Match System: Search, Receive Partner Suggestions

Our Experts Say: “EliteSingles is a leading dating site just for busy, single professionals. More than 80% of members have earned a college degree, and most are looking for a serious commitment...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

★★★★★
4.7/5.0

Relationships: Casual Dates, Deep Relationships

Match System: Personality test suggests matches

Our Experts Say: “Accounting for 2% of U.S. marriages, eharmony's compatibility-based system and commitment-minded user base are ideal for those seeking a serious relationship...” Full Review »

Browse Free: View Photos Now

All three of these sites are consistently ranked among the crème de la crème of dating sites. They have high trust scores by sites like Majestic and receive four to five stars in The App Store and on Google Play. Those are a few other ways to tell if a service is dependable.

2. Read Reviews by Experts & Users

Our experts live, breathe, eat, and sleep all things dating, so we’ve reviewed a lot of the best options, which you can see here. And you don’t just have to take our word for it when you’re shopping around for not only the dating site that feels perfect to you but that you feel comfortable using. Check out other reviews by respected businesses or users who’ve been where you are. They’re all over the internet.

3. Research Your Matches

Researching your date has kinda gotten a bad rap. Some people think it’s a nosy thing to do or an invasion of privacy, but it just makes good sense. If you’re trying to protect yourself, a little bit of research is a must.

Once you have a first and last name, do a simple Google search and see what you can find. You can usually confirm someone’s job with a LinkedIn profile and see more pictures via Facebook or Instagram. Don’t go down the rabbit hole, though. Just look for enough information to assure you that this person is who he/she says and doesn’t have any skeletons in the closet.

Still have unanswered questions? Then you can hire online dating sleuths to look into your Tinder date for you and give you greater peace of mind.

4. Never Give Out Your Personal Information

If an online match ever asks you for money, a credit card number, or your Social Security number, that is a huge red flag. Please, please, please do not give them any of that information under any circumstances. You should also avoid telling them personal details like where you work, where you go to the gym, and where your kids go to school — at least until you’ve built more trust.

This all seems like common sense, but it has to be said. Someone who’s really interested in you is never going to ask for this stuff until you two have really gotten to know each other.

5. Block & Report Suspicious Members

Pretty much every dating site has a feature that will block abusive users and prevent them from being able to see your profile and contact you. This button should be in one of the corners of the person’s profile. If someone is harassing you, click it.

Most dating sites also have around-the-clock customer support that can be contacted via email (and sometimes phone). You can take things a step further by reporting suspicious activity to them. The team will review the account and deactivate it if necessary.

Is Online Dating Dangerous? If You Know What to Look for, It Doesn’t Have to Be

Online dating definitely has its pros and cons, but if you think about it, is it really safer to meet someone at a bar or club? Seems like that could have its dangerous aspects as well. All you need to do is stay on your toes, keep your eyes peeled for any weird behavior, and use your good sense. We believe these tips will help you do that. Stay safe out there!

Photo sources: profilesearcher.com, militaryfamily.org