CINCINNATI (WKRC) - At one time online dating was thought of as taboo, now it’s the norm.
The list of dating websites and cell phone apps continues to grow. From Match, Tinder, to Christian Mingle and everything in between, love is at your fingertips. But as you look for love, don't be blindsided when it comes to your safety.
Police officers warn that key number one is to always be smart.
A few years back Maren Roth, like a lot of singles, simply wanted to find a nice person to spend time with. After a bit of motivation from a family member, she decided online dating was the way to go.
"I was really not into it initially, but I really wanted to meet somebody and I was having a really hard time doing that just in the conventional ways. I really had to come around to the idea that okay, I'm going to do this," said Roth.
Her next move was signing up for a Match.com profile.
"Match seemed a little safer. I'd meet somebody who was actually looking for a relationship as opposed to just a hook-up," said Roth.
Marc Desrosier caught her eye. After a few messages back and forth, they decided to go out. Neither knew where things would lead. Turns out, it was an immediate love connection.
"You know pretty early on in the conversation whether or not it's going to click or not and I think when I first met Maren, it was just easy," said Desrosier.
The couple is now married with a young daughter. The pair are also the owners of two Short North clothing boutiques.
"I knew what I wanted. I knew I wanted to meet somebody. I knew I wanted a future, family, and I told him that," said Roth.
"You certainly hope that everything works out and you never know," said Desrosier.
Their love story was certainly a positive experience. Unfortunately, not all end that way. In February of 2018, David Reed of Flint, Michigan was charged in the death of Ranee Marie McKelvy. Investigators say Reed, a parolee, met McKelvy on the dating site, Plenty Of Fish. It turned out, he'd previously served time for aggravated stalking and assault.
"It's really important to be able to do a little research on someone that you just met. You don't necessarily know who they are. You don't know if they're telling you the truth," said Columbus area police officer Don Stanko.
Stanko has spent years as an police officer in the Columbus area. Also working with the local non-profit, Digital Danger. The organizations focus is to give folks the tools they need to stay safe as they navigate the potentially rough waters of the web.
"It used to be people frowned upon online dating. Anymore, it's becoming the norm," said Stanko.
Experts said there are a few things to remember when dating online: always meet at a public location, never give your work or home address, and never provide any personal information. If you are on a date and things seem unusual or strange, just get out of there.
"The important part is to go slow. Make sure that you don't go into anything too quickly. Make sure you get as much information about the person as possible," Stanko said.
He also pointed out another major concern.
"Many of these apps are using geo-location to find people that are close to you, but it can also reveal your location depending on the app you're using."
Another thing to consider, think about the pictures you set up on your profile. A basic Google reverse image search can reveal exactly where you took the picture.
The Attorney General's office also warns of online romance scams like con artists creating phony profiles and communicating with their victims either by text or over the phone, eventually asking for money.
Maren and Marc agree, when considering online dating you should always keep safety in mind.
"Of course if you go on a date, making sure that your friends know where you are. Your family knows where you are. What time you're going out. Make sure you get a phone call just to check in, some of those precautions," said Roth.
"Being safe obviously is key, but it's ok to meet people," said Desrosier.
The couple also has a bit of advice for those looking for love.
"If you're lucky enough to find that person that complements you and it happens to be on the internet, doesn't matter, and snag them," said Roth.
Experts said the big thing to remember is to just do your research. Not only on the person that you're interested in going out with, but also look deeper into the dating site that you planned to use. These apps can bring people together, or be used to take advantage of you if you're not careful.