Swipe Right if he’s hot. But left if he’s a menace. If you are single, dating, and want to scare yourself silly, just google “murder” & “internet dating.” As is often the case with anecdotal news stories, these are of course shocking and frightening (that’s why they make the news) but statistically tiny. Despite that, it is wise to take reasonable steps for safe online dating.

FIRST: CHECK THEM OUT

In Oklahoma, court court records are mostly available online. This means that an individual’s criminal history is readily available. Whether other people have filed for a Protective Order against a specific individual is also a good indicator of the level of caution to use. The caveat about such searches is that out of state conduct will not show up. For Oklahoma court records, see OSCN and ODCR.  and . A private investigator can do a much deeper background search, but will charge for these services. In some cases, however, this may well be worth the expense. Some of these steps are free and quick so they should be a foundation for safe online dating.

SECOND: DON’T ASSUME SOMEONE ELSE IS CHECKING THEM OUT

Do not assume that a background search of any sort has been done by most online matching services. Look at the Terms of Use, which should be available on the website, and read the fine print. Typically, such sites disclaim all responsibility should anything happen. Thus, doing your own background search is necessary.

THIRD: BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

For the first several dates, follow safe dating practices. Meet in public places. Drive or uber yourself – do not accept a ride to or from the chosen location. Make sure someone else knows where you are. If your date balks at any of these safety precautions, move on.

FOURTH: CHECK YOUR EGO

Do not assume that these tips are for other people, and not you. There are crazy and dangerous people of both genders so do not assume that it is only women who need to be wary. Don’t believe me? Ask Barney.  Experienced daters should not let their guard down, assuming being careful is just for young or inexperienced daters. Even the AARP has issued safe online dating tips.  Ego and worry about keeping up an image can both create huge vulnerabilities. Be aware of both of them so they don’t trap you.

FIFTH: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Finally, be aware of your legal remedies if something does go wrong. A Protective Order can be granted by the Court if another person is threatening or abusive. Many courts (including Tulsa and Oklahoma City) make it fairly simple for an individual to walk through the Protective Order process without hiring a lawyer. But cases involving a large amount of evidence or unusual facts may justify getting a lawyer involved.

Dates that result in assault may give rise to criminal charges. But in this situation, the victim may also have a right to make a civil claim. In cases where the criminal process has gotten derailed – because the police will not investigate or the District Attorney has chosen not to pres charges – consult a civil lawyer about your right to bring a lawsuit. Lawsuits like this are not the answer in every case, but are sometimes the right path. If you find yourself in need of a civil lawyer, contact Koller Trial Law.