OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) - As smart phones become more prevalent and people use dating apps to find instant love, authorities advise users give pause for their personal safety.
“People are just willing to meet up and go, go, go,” one app user said.
The number of dating apps available is endless, from popular ones like Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Match.Com, to Grinder which is designed specifically for men seeking men.
“There are all sorts of different apps for anybody,” said app user and KMTV sales assistant Scott Cole, who met his girlfriend on Tinder. "Sometimes, they do work, and I have had friends in the past that met boyfriends or significant others online.”
Omaha Police Sgt. Erin Payne said that while dating apps can be alluring, there are dangers.
“Social media allows you to hide or be somebody you aren't really,” Payne said.
She said the apps give predators additional cover to hide under, “I think with the dating apps versus regular old-fashioned dating. I think the anonymity part of it is what we as police officers are concerned about.”
Some dating apps do offer some protection, requiring a Facebook account, but others just require a username and password.
Last July, a 14 year-old La Vista girl was sexually assaulted after she met 21-year-old Michael Odom on Tinder.
Police arrested Odom for allegedly taking the underage girl to his house and having sex with her.
“Teenagers can sign up for them and then you will get these crazy creeper guys looking to little kids on the free websites,” Cole said.
Sergeant Payne said dating app users should tell a friend the "four W's" before meeting someone, “the who you are going out with, the what you are doing, where you are going and what time you will be home.”
Payne said it's apparent the dating world is going digital, and if precautions are taken, everyone should be fine.
“I don't think social media dating is a dangerous thing. People just need to be aware of the dangerous that are potentially out there,” Payne said.