With millions of people using dating apps these days, it defies possibility that every date will go smoothly. Though some have found true love via Tinder, others have been left with Tinder horror stories instead (you may even have one yourself). 

And unfortunately, there have been well-documented cases of online daters who have been scammed, assaulted, or worse by the people they met online. These incidents have taught us that you can never be too careful with your personal safety. Exercising good judgment and vetting potential dates through sites like Nuwber, among other actions, can help keep you safe while dating online. 

Here are our top tips to protect yourself while online dating: 

1 – Do some background research. 

This first tip may be the most important when it comes to staying safe while online dating. Tinder does not background check or verify the identity of any of its 50 million users who are spread across the globe. This means that as a user who chooses to online date, you must take responsibility to protect yourself by vetting potential dates. 

When you first start chatting with someone new, a quick search online and a scan of their social media can help verify that the person you met is a real person, and not someone, say, using an Instagram-famous influencer’s photos as their own. Look out for social media profiles that have only a couple photos or just a few friends – it could be a sign that it’s a fake profile. 

While a simple online search is a good place to start, before you agree to meet someone look a little deeper into their background. Use a people finder site, like Nuwber, to find additional information about your possible date, including publicly-available records as well as police records. 

If you feel creepy or disingenuous looking into someone’s background before meeting them – don’t! Ultimately, it’s a matter of your personal safety, and a little sleuthing may turn up some serious red flags you would otherwise be unaware of. 

2 – Talk, on the phone or via video chat, before you meet up. 

Before going on your first date, give your match a call, either the old-fashioned way or by video (even better). Chatting with someone on the phone allows you to get to know someone a bit better before meeting up in person. It can also signal to you if there’s something “off” about someone – listen to your intuition. 

If you can, go a step further and video chat your prospective date, which is a good way to make sure the profile matches the person you’re planning to go out with. It is also a good way to avoid being catfished, a nefarious scheme in which individuals adopt a fake identity to scam potential romantic interests. This is unfortunately common in the world of online dating, so you can never be too careful. 

It’s good practice to keep your personal number private, especially while online dating, so consider using a call-forwarding app or a video chat app to call someone instead of giving out your personal number. 

3 – Let a friend know the details. 

So you’ve done your due diligence and ready to go out on your date. Before you go, give a trusted friend all the details your mom insisted on before letting you out of the house as a kid – where you’re going, who you’re going with, when you’ll be back. You know the drill. Also, send your friend a link to your date’s online dating profile. 

Agree on a few check-ins during the date and consider sharing your location with your friend so they can keep tabs on where you are. While it’s more likely you would need a friend to simply bail you out of a bad date, err on the side of caution just in case. At the very least, it’s reassuring to have a friend who knows where you are, and at most, it could save your life if a date were to go horribly wrong. 

4 – Keep your first date public. 

Stay safe by keeping your first date in public spaces. Start by choosing a public place to meet – maybe a coffee shop or skating rink – where there’s plenty of people around. If something goes awry during your date or your date is exhibiting suspicious behavior, it’s best to be in a public place with other people who can help you. 

Drive yourself or use public transport to get to your date. While it may be tempting to accept a ride from your date, save that for future dates if things work out well. If a date doesn’t go as planned, you can easily get home by yourself. 

Decline the evening stroll. There’s nothing like a romantic walk, which hopefully includes ice cream at the end, to finish off a nice date, but it’s your first time seeing each other, politely decline. Save the adventures for future dates when you’re both more familiar with each other. 

5 – Skip the booze. 

Meeting someone new, particularly a potential romantic partner, can be quite nerve-wracking. It’s tempting to indulge in a glass of wine, or whatever your alcoholic beverage of choice may be. However, for your personal safety, skip the drinks, at least for your first date. 

We’re all aware of the effects alcohol has, from lowering inhibitions to impairing judgment. As much as you may want to settle your nerves, it’s best to stay alert and aware when first meeting up with someone you met online. Unfortunately, not everyone we meet on dating apps has the best intentions. A night of drinks isn’t worth putting your personal safety at risk. 

There is nothing more valuable than your personal safety. Take an active role in protecting yourself, and err on the side of caution when it comes to your safety. Remember, you are never being overbearing or paranoid when you take steps to protect yourself. In the world of online dating, live by that old adage “better safe than sorry”.