Special Report: Online dating safety

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Updated: 2/15/2013 8:41 am Published: 2/14/2013 5:36 pm

Online dating is quickly becoming the norm not the anomaly.

Take Brent Bloom, a single dad looking for love online.

“I am 41 years old, and I live in Bartlesville, Oklahoma,” Bloom said.

He's like 40 million other Americans who are trying to find love on the world wide web. He says he's not online dating because he can't land a lady the traditional way.

“Being a single father of three daughters, there's very limited time to go out and meet people the old way, whether it's at church or lunch,” Bloom told FOX23.

When he’s searching for love, he tries to do so with a cloak of mystery surrounding him for safety's sake.

“I don't have my address, I don't have my phone number on there, I don't have my e-mail on there. I don't disclose any way to contact me.”

Donna Matthews, Associate Director at DVIS, says that's the way to go.

“I would suggest people be as general as they can. If they give specific information it may not mean that much to them, but it can be a key to someone who is really trying to find you,” Matthews said.

If online dating is a two way street, how can you make sure you don't wind up like Manti T'eo?

He is the star Notre Dame linebacker who was caught in a make believe relationship with a girl who didn't even exist. To avoid pitfalls like that, you've got to do a little digging.

In Oklahoma, you can use online court docket databases like Oklahoma State Courts Network, which catalogs everything from traffic tickets to murder charges.

Also, don't take anything as the truth. Be sure to call universities or schools to make they were enrolled. You can also call a company switchboard to make sure someone works where they say they work, and most importantly, keep your guard up when you decide to meet in person.

“When they do decide to meet each other, its highly suggested that they meet in a public place at a busy time where there will be other people around,” Matthews said.

Matthews says meet in the daylight hours, and if you can, cut out the alcohol.

“We do see date rape drugs in Tulsa, and we do want to caution people about that, it's really important that people watch their drinks.”

She recommends letting a few friends or family members know specifics about the person you're dating.

“Whatever you know about that person, if you have talked to them by phone, give their name and number to friends of yours.”

Bloom says he's found quick dates allow you to get a fast read of a person, and that can help weed out the bad eggs.

“They can bluff you all they want to on the internet, in messaging back and forth. I keep the dates very short, 15 minutes, Starbucks, have a cup of coffee.”

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