Dating Profile Background Checks – Which Apps Offer Them, Should They Be Required, How To Screen Dates
Online dating apps have grown in popularity over the years even across older demographics and with that increase in popularity comes 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. 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.
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). 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.
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, cafe or museum? My guess is no.
Online dating demands a unique skill set to analyze photos, profiles, messages and bios that few 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. Dealing with con artists can be difficult and provide further sense of safety that actually exists. 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 giving you too many complements, too quickly (especially before meeting), take that as a red flag.
Further Reading: https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-safety-tips/