Online Dating Identity Verification

Dating apps help people looking for love connect online. However, like any online-to-offline transaction there are very real user safety issues associated with dating online that platforms must work to prevent. For example, people looking for love online are particularly vulnerable to romance scams.

How to increase Trust and Safety in Dating Apps

Cover Online Dating Identity Verification

Digital identity verification is a critical step in the customer onboarding processes, often referred to as Know Your Customer (KYC) of companies in highly regulated industries, like financial services.

However, with more transactions than ever before being initiated online, a more diverse set of industries now also require the help of identity verification software. These industries include gig economy companies in food delivery and ride-hailing, peer-to-peer marketplaces, and dating apps.

For dating apps, identity verification is a critical component of trust and safety because connections made online often evolve into in-person meetings. The unique dynamics of online data introduce a broad range of safety issues and scams. For example, romance scams have become a big challenge for these platforms’ trust and safety. In 2021 alone, romance or dating scams represented over $1 billion in losses. 

What is a romance scam?

A romance scam or dating scam is a type of fraud in which the scammer cultivates a romantic relationship with a victim through online platforms such as dating websites, apps, or social media to exploit the victim for financial gain. The scammer often poses as a romantic partner and convinces the victim to send money, gifts, or personal information, which the scammer then uses for illegal activities such as identity theft. In 2022, romance scams were the cause of over 1 billion dollars in losses in the US alone.



Common dating app scams


Scammers create fake profiles and pretend to be someone else to trick their victims into sending them money or disclosing personal information.

Romance scams

Scammers build a fake relationship with the victim, often over a long period of time, and consistently ask for money for various reasons such as travel expenses or emergency situations.

Phishing scams

Scammers send messages or links that appear to be from a trustworthy source and ask the victim to enter their login information, which the scammer then uses to access their accounts and steal money and personal information.

Money-laundering scams

Scammers ask the victim to receive and then forward large amounts of money, often as part of a larger money-laundering scheme.

How daters can spot a romance scam

There are a few signs to look out for when avoiding romance scams. The first clue is that scammers will likely try to move too fast. They may declare their love quickly or try to move the relationship forward at an unusual pace. Additionally, they will make an effort to fit the mold of your ideal partner, potentially giving off the sense that they are too good to be true. If the person seems too perfect, with a great job, good looks, and a seemingly ideal personality fit, they may be a scammer.

After some time dedicated to gaining their victim's trust, romance scammers will likely ask for money. Excuses may range from travel expenses, emergencies, or medical bills. The requested amounts may be small at first but will usually increase in frequency and amount.

Alternatively, they may be looking to gather personal information on their victim, such as Social Security number, bank account information, or passport details, allowing them to steal account balances or a victim’s identity. Lastly, these scammers may come across as flaky, making excuses for not meeting in person even after a long period of communication.

Is there any way to spot a fake dating app profile?

Yes, here are four common indicators that a user's dating profile is fake.

  • Incomplete profile information: A fake profile may have very little information or only one or two photos, often of poor quality.

  • Professional photos: If the profile picture looks like a professional photo shoot, it may be a fake profile.

  • Stock photos: Scammers often use stock photos or images taken from the internet for their profiles. One trick is to use Google’s reverse lookup feature to determine if any other profiles are using the same pictures.

  • Inconsistent information: If the information provided in the profile doesn't match up with the messages you receive, it may be a fake profile.

Fake accounts might also have other red flags, so it’s important for platforms to take a proactive stance against dating scams and educate their user bases about potential signs.

How does ID verification for dating sites work?

Identity verification processes on dating sites or applications are similar to those of other industries. Typically, they will use a combination of methods to confirm the identity of new users, however, the three core techniques include verifying a government-issued ID, matching a selfie to it, or using a third-party verification solution.

Users may be asked to provide a copy of their passport, driver's license, or national ID card. The dating site will then compare the information on the ID with the information provided in the user's profile to verify their identity. Some dating sites may ask users to take a selfie with a specific gesture or in a specific location, which the site can then compare with the ID provided to verify that the person in the picture is the same person who registered for the account. Liveness detection capabilities are another important component of verification solutions as they ensure that the selfie is of a real person, not a picture or mask.

Dating sites may also use third-party verification services that specialize in identity verification. These services typically use machine learning algorithms and other advanced technologies to check the information provided against various databases and sources to confirm its accuracy.

Of course, the methods used may vary depending on the dating site and the country in which it operates. Ultimately, the goal of ID verification for dating sites is to provide a secure and trustworthy platform for users to connect and form relationships while reducing the risk of fraud and scams.

Dotted map of the USA with a heart above it


What do apps do to prevent dating scams?

Dating apps use several techniques to keep their users safe and prevent scams. Implementing ID verification services to help ensure the authenticity of their users and reduce the risk of scams (see above for details). Implementing strict profile approval processes to ensure that all profiles on the app are legitimate and not fake is the most important prevention method. They may also employ fraud detection and prevention technologies. Using these advanced technologies, such as machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence, to detect and prevent fraud on their platforms.

User education and awareness is another important Trust & Safety initiative dating apps use. Providing education and resources to their users to help them identify and avoid scams, such as tips on spotting fake profiles and information on common scam tactics. They also provide reporting mechanisms, allowing users to report suspected scams or fraudulent activity, which can be investigated and removed by the app's support team.

What verification software is used by dating apps?

Dating apps use a variety of software for identity verification. One solution provides document verification and facial recognition technology to confirm the authenticity of government-issued IDs. These tools typically use a combination of machine learning algorithms and human reviewers to make a verification decision.

While generally effective, this user verification approach has a few specific downsides. This “doc + selfie” approach introduces significant friction into the onboarding process. Not only is the process time-consuming, but it is prone to issues given the volume of different ID formats issued globally. It is rare that one solution will be able to provide an app with a one-stop shop across multiple markets of operation. These factors together jeopardize user acquisition.

Today, passive risk signals are being implemented before doc + selfie solution providers as part of an adaptive verification process. With solutions like location verification, a provided address can be matched to the location of the transacting device in real-time for increased identity assurance. Given the strength of precise location as an identity signal, layering this step before challenging with doc + selfie can reduce friction for good users and verification costs. Think of it as a “Know Your Customer Light” signal.

What are the dating apps with verification checks?

The dating apps that have implemented traditional user verification checks include Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and HER, among others. It is a best practice to understand the trust and safety methods implemented by the app before creating an account. Choosing an app that invests in these processes reduces the risk of being catfished or scammed.

How can users verify identity when online dating?

It can be difficult to know whether matches on dating apps are who they say they are. However, here are some key steps you can take to help verify their identity:

  • Verify their profile information: Look for inconsistencies or red flags in their profile information, such as conflicting details or use of stock photos found by using the reverse image lookup feature on Google.

  • Check their social media profiles: Look for a matching name and profile picture to help corroborate the information they shared.

  • Ask for more photos: Request additional photos they have taken themselves, or ask them to take a selfie or hop on a video call.

  • Talk to them: Get to know the person through conversation and ask them questions to see if their responses match their profile information.

  • Be cautious with personal information: Users should avoid sharing personal information until they are comfortable and confident in the person's identity.

Man and woman chatting via dating app on top of a map of the United States


How are companies addressing scams on dating sites today?

Many dating sites and apps use ID verification services to help ensure the authenticity of their new users and reduce the risk of scams. They also implement advanced technologies, such as machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence, to detect and prevent fraud on their platforms. Another critical component of scam prevention is user education and awareness.

Dating platforms provide education and resources to their users to help them identify and avoid scams, such as tips on spotting fake profiles and information on common scam tactics. Most also have precise reporting mechanisms, allowing users to report suspected scams or fraudulent activity, which can then be investigated and removed by the site's support team. Additionally, most dating companies work closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute scammers and to help recover stolen funds and identities.

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