30.4 million Americans actively use online dating apps, whether it’s for a casual hookup or to find the person they’re going to spend the rest of their lives with.

Convenience, among other things, has caused consumer demand for online dating to skyrocket over the last decade. However, even with this surge in popularity, the same perks that make online dating so great also make it all the more dangerous. It’s a lucrative million-dollar industry that’s attractive to scam artists, making users more susceptible to broken hearts, financial loss, and, unfortunately, physical dangers. 

With these threats, how do you keep yourself safe when you match with another user? Do you research them online before initiating a conversation? Do you Google them before your first date? Or do you take a leap of faith and go into that first date blind? These questions can spark a lot of different answers depending on who you ask. Oh, and before continuing, the leap-of-faith thing is truly a bad idea. 

Some believe you should deeply investigate each match as your safety might depend on it, while others believe you should simply trust your new love interest; again, the leap-of-faith thing is truly a bad idea. No matter what you decide, it’s important to pay attention to these four red flags. 

1. Unclear profile pictures

It’s one thing for someone to use an old picture that no longer resembles themselves, but it’s an entirely different thing when someone uses their photographs to completely deceive other users. A staggering 81 percent of people lie about themselves on their dating profiles. Some catfish others by uploading pictures they stole from someone else’s social media account. Others never show their full face in pictures to avoid being easily identifiable or recognizable. Similarly, if someone’s profile only features a blurry image and they refuse to send you more, they might not be who they say they are. 

2. Aggressive behavior

Many people use online dating apps because they lead busy lifestyles and don’t have the time to go out and explore in-person options. For this reason, sometimes it takes someone a few hours or days to respond to a message. If someone becomes aggressive when they think you’re taking too long to respond, stop all communication. This could be an early sign of controlling or abusive behavior. 

3. Immediate requests for risque photos

If you just matched with someone new and they start soliciting risque pictures from you, think before you send. Once they have that photograph, you no longer have control over what they do with it. They could upload these revealing photos online, or blackmail the users that send them pictures. 

4. Requests for money

If someone you’ve only been talking to for a few hours or days tries to get you to send them money, you’re likely talking to a scam artist. Don’t fall prey to a lengthy sob story or give money because they promised to pay it back. Sure, there might be people who went overseas for school or to care for a sick aunt and can’t afford to return, but it’s unlikely they’re doing much online dating. 

If you want to be certain that the person you’re talking to is who they say they are and isn’t dangerous, MyLife.com can give you that added security and peace of mind. Their platform generates Reputation Profiles with a Reputation Score that can help you uncover the important information you need to know before deciding if it’s safe to be in a relationship with someone. All you have to do is visit MyLife.com, type in anyone’s name, and within a couple short minutes, you’ll see their Reputation Profile. This profile may even include background details like criminal and civil court records, links to their social URLs, and photos. It’s easy, and it’s smart. Be safe when dating online.