Updated: Dec 1, 2019
My dad taught me more about online dating than anyone ever has. No, he didn't meet my mom on Tinder, but he was a CIA agent. His experience educated me on how to dig up information on others, especially since 53% of people lie on their dating profile in some way.
It all started when I met Anthony* shortly after my friends convinced me to download a popular dating application. His charming words and gestures captivated my heart until I suddenly stopped hearing from him, leaving me wondering what I did wrong. Searching for a male perspective, I confided in my father for advice. He gave me the answer to what I did wrong: I didn't do my research on the man I was investing my time on.
My dad ran a quick Google search using Anthony’s full name followed by the word "mugshot" to find out more information about him. It turned out Anthony was incarcerated, and it wasn't the first time.
I decided I could either be angry for not knowing about his criminal background earlier, or I could learn from this situation and use my father's spy experience as a resource when it came to online dating. I chose the second option and here is what I’ve learned:
How to tell if the person you are talking to is who they say they are
From bots to catfish, there are unfortunately many fake profiles out there. However, by conducting a Google reverse-image search on your date’s photos, you can easily locate where else on the web these pictures exist. If the person you are conversing with online is using someone else's images, you may be able to locate the source of these photos.
Another perk to using Google reverse-image search before a date is the possibility of finding their social media profiles given that they could be using the same pictures from their dating profile as their other online accounts.
A phone number can be a key in opening doors to further information
Information such as one's social media profiles, emails, place of work, etc. can possibly be found online with just the use of their phone number. While my dad has used caller ID spoofing for investigative purposes, I use a similar resource to protect my privacy. Services such as Google Voice, allow you to select a secondary phone number to give to your online dating prospects.
Having a match’s phone number can be advantageous as Facebook allows users to search for contacts already saved on their phone. In the probable circumstance that the person you’re searching for has linked their phone number to their social media profiles, you may be able to find valuable details online such as their full name and/or any public profiles.
People tend to use the same username across all their accounts
I briefly dated a man named James* and when we followed each other on Instagram, I ran his username through Google. By finding his Twitter, I also found out an important detail about James: he had another girlfriend. Truth is, if you have access to one of your date's social media pages, you may already have the tools to find the rest.
Strangers on the internet may have good intentions, but some have secrets easily discoverable on the internet. Like my dad always tells me, use all the resources available to you to verify, then trust.
*Names have been changed