How can the average person conduct a background check before meeting someone in person they’ve only “met” online?
Last week the popular dating website Match.com announced it will start screening its users against the national sex offender registry. This after a woman in California filed a lawsuit against Match.com claiming to have been sexually assaulted by a man she met through the website. The woman says the attack could have been prevented with a criminal background check.
With the number of people looking for love online on the rise, concerns for safety are also increasing.
According to the Associated Press, legislators have bills “pending in Connecticut, Texas and New York to provide more information to customers about the pitfalls of using the Internet to line up dates.”
So how can you do a background check before heading out on a date?
Unfortunately for your wallet, all the background checking websites I’ve researched charge for the results of the check; some charge as much as $50. I also discovered several smartphone applications you can download that allow you to do a background check from the palm of your hand. Many of the apps are free, but on Date Check a check can run you anywhere from a few dollars to about $40.
However, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) allows the public to do a criminal background check on someone for just $3.72. Click here for the DPS criminal background check website.
DPS Spokesperson Tela Mange says the problem with criminal background checks is that you cannot be sure the information in the database matches the person you're investigating. Many people can have the same first and last name, and even birthday. She says the only way to be absolutely sure is to have the person’s finger print.
Because most people will not be taking their date to the police station for a finger printing session on their first meeting, Mange suggests the following when meeting someone you have only “met” online:
- Meet in a public place, not your home.
- Go in your own car.
- Do not leave with them.
- Make sure a friend or family member knows where you are and what you are doing.
Another tool you may want to use is the Texas Sex Offender Registry. This search tool is free and uses information sent to DPS by local police departments. Mange cautions users not to rely solely on this tool, as the information may not always be up-to-date. Click here for more information.