By Kathryn Hauser, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) — Online dating is more popular than ever, but many singles shy away from it out of fears about their safety. New technology could help ease those concerns.

Today, Cristy Marrero is happy she used an online dating service. That’s how she met her boyfriend.

Marrero recalls the precautions she always took before meeting a new suitor.

“I had this one friend that I would tell about my date and I would just take a screen shot of the profile of the person or send her the link of the person’s profile.”

She also made sure her friend knew where she was going and would call her when she was home safely.

Those measures were probably a good strategy when you consider that in 2012 there were 4,467 complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center about online dating problems.

David Pederson, a senior manager at Zoosk, the most popular mobile dating app, admits there is always an element of danger with any site. Zoosk will remove any patron they feel poses a threat without hesitation.

The potential for problems with dating apps continues to grow as some sites have added GPS features, allowing singles in the same area to be paired.

Often the two people are already in the same bar, just a few feet from one another. Then they meet, armed with nothing more than a picture and a first name to go by.

Zoosk has now implemented a new safety feature called “Photo Verification.”

As Pederson explains, “It allows you to upload a 7 second video selfie of yourself, and send it into the moderator. A human person actually looks at it, says “Does this line up with the photos that you have on your profile?” And if it does, then we give you a check mark saying you are photo verified.”

The Zoosk photo verification feature (Image credit Zoosk)

The Zoosk photo verification feature (Image credit Zoosk)

Zoosk officials say Photo Verification has drastically minimized the number of fake profiles.

Pederson says Zoosk is the only site with this approach in place.

“We’ve seen that it’s attracting more members because of the fact they know that if they meet, or if they are talking to a person that has a verified check mark, that they are going to meet ‘that’ person.”

Despite safety concerns, online dating continues to grow. It’s now a $2.2 billion industry.

And attitudes continue to change too. A recent poll found that a majority of Americans now believe this is a good way to find a partner.


Leave a Reply