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Dating Background Checks: A Smart Idea or An Invasion of Privacy?

  • January 02, 2007
  • by PInow Staff

The new world of online dating brings new risks to the world of romance. Dating background checks can give daters the tools they need to make informed decisions in matters of the heart.

Dating has always been risky. Trusting someone new carries risks, especially considering that dating requires some trust and often takes daters to out-of-the-way places such as cozy restaurants, darkened movie theatres, and so on. The new interest in Internet dating has only increased risks, according to some experts. Internet research firm Nielsen/NetRatings reported that in January 2005 alone, more than 26 million people visited dating sites.

Internet dating is very convenient and offers people anonymity and a feeling of comfort. Unfortunately, it is very easy to misrepresent one's identity online. Users of online dating services can use false names and false identities, and can also misrepresent information to give potential dates a very skewed picture of themselves. Online dates can literally be anyone -- anyone from a nice person to a criminal with a very violent past.

In 2005 the state of Michigan proposed a new bill that would require Internet dating companies to conduct background checks on users. These online dating services would state whether they have conducted criminal background checks on specific users, and other users of the site could use this information when deciding which people to meet in person. Under the legislation, which is supported by Sen. Alan Cropsey of DeWitt, online dating services would have to warn site members about safe dating practices and would have to note the limitations of dating checks.

The legislation raises an interesting question:

What do background checks on dates offer and how reliable are they?

Pre-date screenings can do many things. They can investigate someone's criminal record, identity, background, driving record, or even their credit history. The screenings range from very simple to very detailed and thorough. The function of them, though, is the same. The aim is to uncover whether someone is misrepresenting themselves and whether there are any red flags that indicate that a person may be a bad match.

Date checks can reveal whether someone is already married, whether someone has large debts, or whether someone has been lying about their age, employment, or name. Date checks can also reveal whether someone has a criminal record or violent past. Potentially, this information can help someone make a more informed decision about who to trust and who to avoid.

What are the potential problems?

Unfortunately, dating checks only as good as the people who conduct them. Someone who uses a false name online may be difficult to track. A smart criminal who is using a false identity may be able to outsmart standard background checks that online services might provide. Plus, not all investigators are equally thorough when running checks. There are also some legal requirements which make some people avoid asking some tough questions. For example, it is illegal to check someone's credit history without informing them of the check. This means that many people do not to inquire too closely into potential dates financial past. Some investigators do not investigate all the aliases or false names that a potential date has used. This can lead to incomplete information about someone's criminal past or background.

Date checks, done right, can do much. They can warn the potential date about financial liabilities, criminal behavior, and lies. This can help ensure that someone can avoid a problem before they become too fully involved. However, in order for date checks to really help keep someone safe, the need to be thorough and professional. Hiring a professional investigator with date check experience is a must for conducting comprehensive and legal checks. Hiring a professional rather than relying on free online background checks can potentially save daters from a lawsuit or violence. Thanks to the Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators, anyone interested in dating checks can get free online dating checks resources and can even use the Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators to find local, professional investigators run a quality background check.

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