Online Dating Dangers

Criminals are using the Internet at an increasing rate, and more and more people are turning to online dating services because of convenience or fear of the traditional dating scenes.

Unfortunately, meeting someone over the Internet does not mean you're exempt from possible dangers. More than 500 million people are hooked into the World Wide Web, and criminals are taking every advantage of it.

Jayne Hitchcock of "Working to Halt Online Abuse” says, "We've had problems with chat rooms, e-mails, newsgroups, message boards, fantasy sports. You name it, I swear, anywhere online something can happen to you."

Cyber crime expert Jayne Hitchcock testified before legislators Tuesday against Internet crime. She spoke in support of a bill that would require online dating services to provide a disclaimer as to whether or not they provide criminal background checks on its members.

Jayne says, "You have single adults, divorced adults going online to these dating websites thinking, ‘well, it's a good way to try to meet somebody’ A lot of them just don't take the precautions they should. This is just one better step for safety for them."

Ashley Woods says meeting people online can be scary because you never know who you're chatting with. She says she agrees with online services having disclaimers, but it shouldn't stop there.

Ashley Woods says, “It's not just putting a disclaimer, it's all about the webmaster, whoever runs that website enforcing it. A disclaimer is just like a label. Don't put it up there if you're not going to enforce it."

Forty six states now have cyber stalking legislation on their books. Hitchcock suggests that if you are on a site that does not do background checks, pick another site. She also stresses that when meeting someone in person for the first time, have a friend call you periodically, or better yet, take them with you.