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How to stay safe when using a dating app

ASU police are investigating the assault of a student who invited a man to her residence with the help of a dating app. We asked a matchmaker for safety advice.

PHOENIX — ASU police are investigating a sexual assault that happened inside a residence hall on Saturday on their Tempe campus.

Police say the victim invited the 18-year-old man over via a dating app. The suspect is described as a white male, about 6 feet tall with a skinny build. ASU police are advising everyone to use caution when using a dating app.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans are using an online dating app or website to find love. So, with so many people online, what should you look out for before you go on a date?  And is using a match-maker a much safer alternative?

Team 12’s Mike Gonzalez had a chance to speak with one of the Valley’s most popular matchmakers, Roseann Higgins, about what to think about before you hit the dating scene.

RELATED: Modern Love: A look at the pros and cons of online dating

We asked an expert

Roseann Higgins knows a little something about love. She’s been matchmaking in the Valley for 25 years. She is the founder of (SPIES) Single Professional Introductions for the Especially Selective.

“People come to me to get through all the initial stages of information,” Higgins said. 

She’s seen the rise of dating apps and their potentially dangerous side—and has some common-sense advice if you go on a date.

"When people don't want to use these dating apps, they come to me to help them vet their potential date. Not everyone has the financial resources, but always listen to your gut and there's simple dating advice I give to keep people safe," said Higgins. 

1. Meet in a public place

 “Go somewhere that’s public where they know you. Try to get last names. When I introduce people, I don’t give last names because I don’t want stalking, but if you have a chance to check someone out, you want to know if they really have a job and they’re telling the truth," Higgins said. 

2. Look up your date on social media

Higgins also says it’s not out of bounds for you to do your social media homework on your potential date. Find their social media accounts, corroborate information they’ve told you with what’s on their accounts, and if you’re really concerned, check them out on background sites like Spokeo that find out information on a person.

“You can also check out their email address and Google them. Sometimes it will bring up sites they’ve been on. We’ve even had cases where the person has been on websites like Ashley Madison and other sites like that,” said Higgins.

3. Take your own vehicle to a date

Once the date is set, Higgins says take your own vehicle. 

“Don’t have them send you a car or Uber because you have to give an address," she said. 

4. Take a selfie

And when the time is right, take a selfie with that person. 

“Once you’ve taken that selfie, text it to two or three friends so they know where you’ve been and they have a picture of the person you’re with,” said Higgins.

5. Trust your gut

Higgins says if you’re chatting with someone online and they give you a creepy vibe, just go with your gut and don’t go on the date. It’s that simple.

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