While dating and hookup apps can seem like a lot of fun on the surface, there are plenty of horror stories out there that will make even the most carefree people think twice about their personal safety.
Earlier this year, according to a report by CNN, four men in Texas were accused of using the popular gay dating app Grindr to lure gay men and assault them in their homes.
We don't want anyone to be afraid to go out and meet people, but it's never a bad thing to be cautious of the new people you let into your lives, especially if your safety is involved.
Here are a few easy things you can do that make using dating apps a little more safe.
1. Do some background checking
If you're talking to someone on a dating app and you think there might be a chance you'd want to go on an IRL date with them, it doesn't hurt to do some quick investigative work.
As SheKnows points out, there are a lot of online services—like BeenVerified and Instant Checkmate—that help you run a criminal background check on someone, and a lot of states even have public criminal records, making it easy for you to go and find out more about someone's past. (It also doesn't hurt to check out their social media profiles.)
Another easy thing to do is to also run a reverse image search on Google to see if the profile pic your potential date is using on an app is really theirs. If your date is using someone else's picture to lie to you and catfish you, chances are it's not safe to be going on a date with that person.
2. If you go on a date with someone you met on an app, meet them in a safe, public setting
Meeting up with someone (especially if you don't know them too well) in a public place (like a restaurant or a coffee shop or a busy shopping center) where there are lot of other people around is a great thing to do. If a situation ever becomes uncomfortable and you find yourself needing help, there will be a ton of people around to help.
Never let strangers into your home, and never agree to go to a stranger's home.
Our friends at HerCampus also make another excellent point that when you agree to go on a date with someone you are just getting to know, don't have them pick you up and don't leave with them.
3. Always let your friends know where you are going and how long you plan to be out
If you want to hookup with someone you met on an app, it's best to always let your friends and the people closest to you know exactly where you are going and how long you plan to be out and about for. Like the folks over at PinkNews warn, if something bad were to ever happen to you while you were out on a date (we hope that's never the case!), you want as many people to know as much information as possible.
Stay safe out there, friends!
What are your tips for fun and safe online dating? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!