DAVENPORT, Iowa — More than ever, people are turning to the web to find love. But, when it comes to meeting in person, there are risks. A recent study reports ranks states in order of safest to most dangerous for online dating; Iowa is14th and Illinois is ranked 33rd in the country.
"I can say in the local area there's been a few, several from the whole Quad City area of internet dating gone bad," said Lieutenant Chad Cribb, Investigations/Civil Division, Scott County Sheriff's Department.
Lt. Cribb says dating online is the wave of the future, but to stay safe, no matter your age, or how involved a relationship for which you may be looking, there are three things to never do when it comes to meeting someone you met online in person for the first time.
"The biggest number one don't is, don't invite them to your home the first time you meet," said Lt. Cribb, "That's just danger written all over it and you don't want to put yourself in that position."
Instead, Lt. Cribb recommends meeting in a public place, especially one where you know who works there. Then, they can sense if something is off during the date.
"The second thing probably is, make sure you drive yourself there. You don't want to rely on anybody to pick you up especially if it's that other person," he said.
Lastly, don't drink too much.
"As easy as it is to do, try to stay sober," said Lt. Cribb, who says the Sheriff's Office has a couple officers who deal with cyber sex scams.
Before you meet, he recommends doing a background check on the person to see if they have a criminal record, as that is open knowledge.
Link to look up legal record of an individual in Iowa, click here.
Once you make a match, Lt. Cribb says to tell friends and, or family where you are going and tell them the contact information of the whom you are meeting.
If something does go wrong, Lt. Cribb is adamant ab
"I just do it to see what kind of matches I get," said Edgar Troche, 22 referring to Tinder, the mobile dating app. He rarely uses Tinder, and when he has, he's never actually met a match in person.
"It's safer for guys cause usually girls are the ones that are most in danger," said Troche, while lounging in a lobby at Blackhawk Community College, "You don't know if the guy could be a rapist stuff like that - or violent," he said.
There are all sorts of ways to meet people from behind a screen; Instagram, Facebook, Bumble, Tinder, not to mention Match.com or other online dating sites; chances are, you or someone you know has clicked, swiped, or messaged to find love.
"When you meet them in person, they may be the complete opposite of who you thought they were and they might make you extremely uncomfortable," said Abbie Ewers, 18 who says she hasn't dated online, but her brother, who is new at college has tried it as just another way to meet people.
"He thinks it's safe. You can just swipe if you like someone; it's easier," said Ewers, while sitting in the library at Blackhawk Community College.
A 2016 report from Pew Research Center says, 15% of U.S. adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps; the same study says the stigma around online dating is becoming more positive; 59% of U.S. adults agree with the statement, "Online dating is a good way to meet people."
See more online dating safety tips via this Facebook Live chat conducted Tuesday, March 7: