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Online Dating Safety: Tips & Tricks with Amy Bann from Dates Checker

Online dating can be nerve-wracking for a lot of reasons. Perhaps you’re putting yourself out there in a way you never have before, or as is the case with Meddle, you’re putting that initial swiping power into the hands of someone else entirely. And then there’s always that nagging suspicion if your date was being 100% truthful in their profile.

Photo of Amy Bann

Amy Bann, founder of Dates Checker

While a little white lie may not signal the end of a relationship (so he’s technically only 5’ 11”, not 6’), it’s the bigger “what-ifs” that can cause unease, and rightfully so.

At Meddle, we’re all about wanting our community to be as safe as possible when dating and so we sat down to talk with Amy Bann, founder of Dates Checker, to talk with her about why she started Dates Checker, how it works, and her general safety tips.

Meddle: So, what led you to found Dates Checker?

Amy: To help make online dating more fun and relaxed by taking away some of the work and risk. I saw a big gap in that there weren’t any upfront ways to know if a profile was legitimate. Scrolling through hundreds of people, it isn’t possible or practical to look into them all.

Meddle: And how does Dates Checker work?

Amy: Daters fill out a one-minute form on our site. If approved, a dater gets their own URL showing that they are approved, meaning basic criteria was verified: name, age, phone number, and no concerning legal background. The URL is portable, so one can put it in unlimited profiles or messages. The URLs don’t have any personal data; dates viewing the approval just see that the person is good to go. They can verify by phone number as an added assurance.

Meddle: In a nutshell, why should folks using Meddle, or who are invested in online dating in general, utilize something like Dates Checker?

Amy: First, the vast majority of daters are fine! There are so many great people out there excited to meet online and through apps. It’s a wonderful way to connect. The safety aspect is about being practical to avoid a very small unlikely percent of daters online. So don’t be deterred!

That being said, the single best thing you can do is to ask dates to verify their identity early on. Most daters want to have a breezy, fun experience- not interrogate the other party. You meet someone, hit it off, flirt a bit and… ask for their date of birth? Not to mention it’s way too burdensome to then try to do all the background check legwork for every date.

purple and white dates checker logo

Dates Checker helps lower risks, and costs less time and money than trying to do it all yourself. When you see a Dates Checker logo or link you know they are approved and don’t have to dig further. Plus, offering this ‘approval’ right away may result in more dates as it provides upfront assurance to those looking at your profile as he or she decides whether to swipe right or start messaging.

As always, nothing is foolproof, but a basic check is a good starting point.

Meddle: In addition to Dates Checker, what other dating safety tips can daters utilize?

Amy: There are some common safety tips, but Dates Checker was launched because these tips don’t really help when searching through profiles or after the first date or two.

  • Don’t reveal too many personal details, meet in a public place, and tell a friend where you’ll be. This is good advice generally, but only works briefly; the purpose of getting to know someone does mean increased intimacy which requires eventually an exchange of certain personal details like your phone number, employer, where you live. As soon as someone has any of these details, that exposes you to safety risk- but it’s awkward to refuse to share anything about yourself. Same with where to meet. Sure, meeting for coffee or at a bar works at first, but no one wants to meet at coffee shops forever. So there is a small but inherent safety risk. It’s a tough issue in need of better solutions.
  • If a date offers (or you google them and find) their social media profiles, that can be helpful to provide some assurance- but can kind of be a romance killer- who wants to know a date’s whole resume on LinkedIn or see all their old photos on Facebook before you even decide to meet? It can be nice to see that they have an online presence, but know that those sites don’t have any ID verification or background check criteria.
  • Phone scrambling services that forward calls/texts to your real number while hiding it is okay, but not enough assurance as you get to know someone. And then you have to remember to manage that feature. . .

Meddle: Are there any dating sites out there who are already addressing and/or incorporating these sorts of safety features?

Amy: Most sites are addressing this through user feedback. If daters flag a profile enough, it gets pulled. This is okay, but not enough. Scammers have gotten pretty sophisticated. Plus, dating sites’ mission is to connect people, not verify the people they are connecting, and highlighting that not all profiles are legitimate can be at odds with their business model.

There are so many great dating apps and sites–like Meddle! By using others to choose dates for you, you’re actually sharing the experience of searching for and vetting matches, which can also helps address safety concerns.

The trend in other areas and social media is moving towards stronger authentication: AirBnb now requires uploading an official ID, Uber conducts background checks, etc. to instill more comfort in vulnerable situations. Dating’s also an area where apps are facilitating human-to-human interactions- it’s all about striking a balance between convenience and common sense.

We hope dating sites and apps will ultimately offer Dates Checker as an optional embedded feature for a seamless user experience. Putting a link within your profile or messaging the link is a workable solution in the interim.   

Meddler: Okay, so who would you pick to be your Meddlers?

Amy: Close friends who know me really well.

Meddle: If a friend were to pick you as their Meddler, what three words would you use to describe your approach to helping them find a match?

Amy: Excited, Respectful (of their preferences), Accepting (of their reactions to matches)

Meddle: Favorite date spot in Seattle?

Amy: Summer in Seattle- so many options! Anywhere with outdoor seating or a waterfront walk. Agua Verde, Carillon Point, Bluwater Leschi, Eastlake Bar & Grill, anything on Alki.