6 Ways to Verify a Date is Real: Online Dating Identity Verification

Fact Checked by: John Stringfellow, CEH

It can be scary meeting someone from the internet that you’ve never met in person before. Heck, even if you randomly have mutual friends it can be scary.

Unfortunately, because of the world we live in it can not only be scary or awkward, but it can also be dangerous, especially with romance scams on the rise. And not only that, over 55% of adults aged 18-54 admit to lying about something on their dating profiles! This begs the question of whether you can and should verify if someone you met online is real or not.

Here’s the answer. Yes, you 100% can and should verify if an online date is real. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through that process and help you to better protect yourself from getting catfished or ending up in an unsafe or awkward situation. We’ll talk about why it’s important to try and verify, the steps you can take to verify if they’re who they say they are, and what you should do when things just don’t add up.

Why Verifying an Online Date is Important

We’ve touched on this already, but we want to make sure you realize why this is so important. We live in a scary world. Sure, most people that you meet through online dating are going to be nice people who mean well, but there are a few out there that don’t have your best interests at heart. Because of this, it’s extremely important that you take as many precautions as possible to make sure you are safe and protected.

We don’t say any of this to scare you or discourage you from dating online. Online dating is awesome, and thousands of people find love and new friends every single day! But, we’re telling you this because you need to be smart about things. By just taking a few proactive steps, you can keep yourself safe.

Before we go any further, though, we do want to point you to a few additional resources that you may want to check out if you’re actively dating online. Our online dating safety guide will tell you everything that you can do to ensure that you stay safe. It’s a must-read for anyone who is dating online in this day and age. The second resource we have is our guide on how to protect yourself from being catfished. A big step of that process is verifying who you are talking to, but there are some additional things you can do to protect yourself.

Should you verify anyone you meet online?

100% without a doubt. Now, you don’t have to go as far as running background checks, but you can if you want to. If you do want to be as safe as possible, People Finders does have a great product to help you verify information provided to you by a potential suitor.

The overarching point here is that you 100% should be trying to verify things that people say when you meet them online.

There are three kinds of people you may run into dating online.

First, some people are going to be awesome and honest, and everything they tell you is going to be the truth. Those people rock.

Then you’re going to have people who exaggerate and tell some white lies about themselves to try and look better. They’re still going to be the actual person you’re talking to, but there are going to be some fibs in there. We don’t like these people, and it’s important to know when you’re getting lied to.

On the far end of the spectrum, though, you have people who are going to be lying about everything about them. The problem is that these people aren’t going to come waving a big banner that says they’re lying. A lot of people who are habitual liars end up being pretty good at it. Many of these people could also be professional scammers who literally make their living from lying to people online.

Again, we are not trying to scare you away; this stuff can happen in real life too. We’re just saying to follow the steps we’re about to outline as much as you possibly can.

6 Steps You Can Take to Verify an Online Date

So, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of what we’re here to talk about today. What can you do to verify that an online date is really who they say they are?

1. Use Social Media.

One of the simplest ways to start the verification process is by using social media. Do they have a Facebook account? An Instagram? Do their accounts look real or do they possibly look like fake accounts?

Keep in mind that not everyone uses social media so there may be real people who just aren’t on these sites. What you’re more looking for are accounts that look to be fake or don’t match up with the things that they are telling you.

The next best tool you can use to verify if an online date is real or not is Google. Take some of the information they’ve given you and start looking around to see if you can validate any of it. They claim to have their own business? Google it and see if it exists and if they are listed anywhere on it. They claim to work a particular job? Same thing; hit up the Googles.

Additionally, you can reverse image search their pictures to see if they pop up somewhere else. The way you do this is start by downloading their picture to your computer. You can usually do this by right-clicking on it (from your desktop), and clicking save as. Then go to Google Image and drag the image from your desktop or file folder right into the search bar. We promise this works.

Google will then search for that image to see if it shows up anywhere else on the web. If it doesn’t show up anywhere, that’s awesome! It most likely means that the image is something that they took and is most likely them. But, if the image shows up all over the place and attached to accounts that are not theirs or on stock photo websites, then you probably have a problem.

We highly recommend that you do this with every image they have especially if one of them flags an issue.

3. Use Common Sense.

The single tool that’s much more powerful than Google or Facebook is your own brain and intuition. If something doesn’t smell quite right, something is probably up. If things seem too good to be true, they usually end up being so.

Look, we aren’t saying that there aren’t some amazing people out there, but you’re all smart cookies. If things seem wrong, be hesitant and start digging deeper. Look to get more information from them and about them that you can then try and validate through one of the other methods on this list.

4. Video Chat Can Be a Gamechanger.

An absolute gamechanger when it comes to verifying an online date is video chatting. This allows you to verify several aspects of their story before you get anywhere close to them in person.

Video chatting (even for just a few minutes) is something that can’t be faked. If they are who they say they are, then you’re going to see that on the video. If they aren’t who they say they are or are lying about how they look, you’re certainly going to see that too.

Keep in mind, though, this doesn’t verify more than the fact that they match the pictures of the person you’re talking to. If someone tells you they’re a doctor, they could easily video chat with you from outside of a hospital (and not actually be a doctor). While this verifies a lot, don’t blindly start trusting everything they said.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for video chats and people should respect the fact that you want to be safe. If they ask why you want to video chat for a few minutes, just tell them it’s something you do to keep yourself safe online. Anyone that has a problem with that is probably hiding something from you.

5. Use Multiple Sources.

The last thing that we want to say about this issue is to use as many sources as possible. Just because they don’t have social media doesn’t mean that they are lying to you. But, if there are multiple red flags across a lot of these mediums, then you may be dealing with someone who isn’t being completely honest with you.

Do the best you can, and proceed accordingly.

6. Use Safer Dating Apps.

You don’t have to ride the verification train alone. The safest dating apps out there often help to verify as much as they can about members. Again, these are not foolproof and shouldn’t be blindly trusted, but they generally go a long way to helping you verify someone’s identity when dating online.

Often, this might be verification through social media, verification by text message, or even submitting some videos, photos, or documentation to verify some aspects of who they say they are. Again, these often only revolve around verifying they are the same person in their photos and not the things they say in their profile, but way better than nothing.

What should you do when things don’t add up?

So, what happens when things don’t add up? Well, first of all, take a breath and think logically. It’s all going to depend on the severity of what they are potentially lying about and how sure you are that they are lying.

If you’re not completely sure and it’s not something major, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you’re not completely sure and it’s something major, you need to ask them about it. Who cares if it’s a slightly awkward conversation. It’s better than having an awkward conversation in person or a potentially really awkward or unsafe situation.

The important thing is not to jump to conclusions just because you can’t find a few things on Google or something sounds too good to be true. Remember, there are a lot of valid reasons that things might not be adding up.

When You Verified and Know For Sure They’re Lying

But, what happens when you know for sure they are lying about something? Well, it’s up to you how you want to proceed. In our opinion, no matter how you choose to proceed it should end with you not meeting up with that person or pursuing a relationship with them.

Even if it’s just something small they are lying about, they are lying to you. How can you trust anything they say moving forward? If they’re willing to lie to you before they’ve even met you, then what is the quality of that relationship going to be like?

The decision that you do have is whether you want to continue talking to them and give them a chance to explain or just move on. If you aren’t 100% sure, you should probably give them a chance to explain. But, be prepared to hear some creative excuses. Remember, people who are habitual liars are good at it, and they have no problem lying again and again to cover up previous lies.

If you’re 100% sure they’re lying, you can tell them you know if you really want to. But, it’s not going to accomplish too much except maybe make you feel better. The quicker that you stop talking to them and move on, the better.

A Final Point to Remember

While this guide may have come across a little scary, we want you to remember that online dating is a great thing. It breeds so many amazing relationships and marriages every day and has come a long way since its early days. But, there are those few people out there that try and ruin things for the rest of us.

As long as you take a few proactive steps to protect yourself and work hard to validate and verify your dating matches, you should have a much better, safe, and productive online dating experience.

Photo of author

Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.