Dating Profile Background Checks – Which Apps Offer Them, Should They Be Required, Best Dating Profile Checks, How To Screen Dates Offline and Online, Catfishing
Online dating apps have grown in popularity over the years even across older demographics and with that increase in popularity comes an increase in sex offenders and predators looking for their next target.
Online dating apps have been known to attract a number of introverted, shy and even depressed individuals making them targets for predators looking to make money, exert control over others, assault victims and blackmail targets.
Online Dating Scammers and Predators
Google online dating scam and you will come across lonely folks wiring 6 figures from their retirement funds and home lines of equity, individuals who are being blackmailed for photos sent or videos captured to matches as well as physical assaults from first dates. There are plenty of fake profiles on dating apps even in 2020.
Recently, Match Group (owner of Match, Hinge, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish) made it into the news as it announced that only one of their properties (Match.com) screens for sex offenders (the others do not). Even then it is not exhaustive. The data is incomplete and profiles are removed in extreme cases. This marketing ploy gives users a false sense of security when using the app which is rather unfortunate.
Everyone should know that a significant portion of rape and sexual assault cases go unreported and when they do, they rarely result in a conviction and mark in a permanent record. As a result, these background checks only catch a handful of predators.
Other apps like Bumble require a photo verification for new users but it is not clear what additional (if any) screening they conduct. Online dating apps have long been known to provide anonymity but now more than ever, cases of rape and sexual assault have made it easier for victims to come out publicly. For a list of automatic left swipes on dating apps, check out my guide to avoid creeps.
I typically take the stand as saying online dating apps are an extension of meeting people. Same rules for contact, flirting, scheduling dates, honesty should apply online as they do offline. The thing is, people have been training for years to spot red flags in person but dating apps and technology have given folks a false sense of security. Should you expect a first date to be screened before going on a first date if you were to meet him/her at a bar, café or museum? My guess is no.
Verified Profiles On Dating Apps
Apps like The League go through extra steps to verify profiles that enter the platform by verifying other social media profiles and photos. Bumble offers a verification method for users to prove identity and receive a blue checkmark on their dating profile.
OkCupid asks an insane number of questions upon registration and is one of the apps that has banned my skeleton accounts created for reviewing client profiles on the site. Sites like Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder and Bumble have allowed me to create fake profiles without any problem thus far.
Please note these steps do not confirm age, height, location, gender, intention but merely verifies you are a real person. If you fail the verification process your profile will be turned off meaning you can’t see anyone and no one can see you. Typically this is a feature done at will by the user but can be required if your profile is reported as fake.
Tinder also has a verification process where it validates a profile is real but again, does not verify age, height, location, intent etc. – only a user can do this.
Hinge uses a phone number and Facebook for authentication which means absolutely nothing. Anyone can get a burner phone and create a dummy Facebook account in seconds.
Online Dating Should Be Treated Similarly To Offline Dating
Online dating demands a unique skill set to analyze photos, profiles, messages and bios that few people possess. Even if you are an expert, it may not be enough as predators and sex offenders are professional con artists – they are experts in their field and are masters of deception.
Online dating requires users to be as if not more vigilant when meeting strangers offline. Just because you have someone’s name, photos, bio and messages doesn’t mean they should be trusted. Using the same tools and framework for assessing character offline should be applied online to protect oneself.
Should dating apps offer background checks? I am surprised to hear Match.com does given that their registration process last time I check did not offer a comprehensive screening process for new users. If dating apps were to offer backgrounds checks or screening services, it could open them up for liability as it is impossible to screen 100% of users 100% of the time.
I don’t think these screening services should be a requirement BUT if a dating app did offer screening services, that would go a long way of building confidence and trust across users who are skeptical of dipping their toe in the online dating waters.
For safety reasons I will not alert predators and offenders on the ways they can avoid detection by listing the ways here but I will provide some advice on how to protect yourself.
Take things slow, ask questions, ask for last names and emails, check social media sites, do Google searches, look up sex offender registries (not full-proof as there is a lag in updating records), meet in public places, alerts friends when going on dates, avoid getting picked up in strangers vehicles, disregard unattended drinks, don’t provide private financial information and review your own information online.
If someone is unwilling to meet your friends and family, plan trips down the road, doesn’t have any social media presence, doesn’t introduce you to their friends, family or always seems mysterious about their past, their life then take that as a clue to be extra cautious.
If someone is giving you too many complements, too quickly (especially before meeting), take that as a red flag. (Check out the term love-bombing).
How Can I Find Out If My Partner Is On A Dating Site?
Ask him or her. If you can’t have this dialogue, why are you together? If you can’t trust each other, what is the point of finding out if they have a profile or not? Just because you have the Bumble app doesn’t mean you are using the dating function of the app – could be using the bizz networking portion of the app.
Similarly, just because someone has a profile on a dating app doesn’t mean they are active nor does it mean they created the profile. Many profiles are created by public photos in an attempt to catfish users. Others likely use dating apps because their relationship is on the rocks and have given up. If caught, cheaters often blame the victim for being too busy, being unavailable etc. These are classic manipulation tactics – don’t fall prey to them.
Requesting forgotten passwords or usernames via email is an effective tool. It doesn’t proof anything. It could have been an old account. The dating site could just use the lookup to cause more doubt and try to get you to sign up for the app to see for yourself.
The best thing you can do is not be in a relationship where you cannot trust your partner. Simple as that. Most dating apps require users to create an account to browse profiles. Most people who use dating apps to cheat on their partner might only use the app while traveling, hide the app on their phone or only use the website version of the app. Having a friend see if she/he can match with your partner, spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend is the only way to find out for sure.
In some jurisdictions, cheating in a relationship can nullify a pre-nup only if that condition is stated explicitly so in a contract.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Partner Is On Dating Apps
Rather than confront someone at the first sniff of cheating, document behavior, travel activities, photograph phone notifications, listen to notification sounds when he is on the toilet, occasionally ask to use his phone to make a call or take a photo.
Have friends create an account and try to match with your partner and screenshot messages, profiles etc. Ask specific questions when your partner has last minute travel plans or get togethers with friends. Don’t be direct. Ask about where they ate, photos from the trip, who did they go with, etc. Build up a case so you have undeniable evidence in the case a legal matter arises.
My Boyfriend Is On Tinder To Make Friends
No he is not. Don’t believe this. Sure Tinder’s tagline is “Dating, Make Friends, Meet New People” but no one uses it to make friends especially when in a relationship. People might use it to find tour guides, friends when traveling but only if they are single. You can check for charges on credit cards, check notifications on the phone or see if/she gets promotional emails from dating apps.
Online Dating Scammer Photos, Online Dating Scammer List
There is no database. Occasionally you can Google someone’s name or reverse image search them. That is not exhaustive nor should it give you certainty someone is not a scammer. Things take time, you cannot rush things or jump into relationships especially if you are vulnerable.
If you cannot trust someone completely for any reason then perhaps you should be seeing the person. Anxiety, doubt will wreak havoc on your life even if the person has no evidence of leading a double life or cheating. Don’t assume apps like Bumble that have verified profiles are screening folks beyond identity, if that. Assume all risk yourself when using dating apps.
Most profiles on dating apps can be created in a matter of minutes without any verification of identity. Similarly, most dating apps provide options to hide profiles, block friends from Facebook or work or allow users to use photos that are not their own.
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
Dating Profile Critique
For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.
For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/
Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More): https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/
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