Over the past decade or two, online dating has become a massively significant piece of the United States relationship and marriage scene. Researchers have gone so far as to estimate that one in four couples meet online. Popular online dating services like eHarmony, Match.com, and OkCupid have even managed to turn the phenomenon into an incredibly sustainable business model.
With the growth of online dating has also come a corresponding increase in the number of predators who realize that they can use online dating services to find easy victims. When people meet online and set up an in-person date, they don’t really know who they are speaking with. The person on the other side of the internet connection could well be a kind and honest soul who is precisely who they made themselves out to be in their dating profile.
However, someone on a dating service could just as easily be lying about everything, from their interests to their identity, all in a ruse to harm other people – physically, financially, or both. Therefore, those who utilize dating services to meet potential mates are opening themselves to a reasonable level of risk by putting their name, their information, and their photograph online.
With this risk in mind, various sources have been working to make online dating services safer places for single people to mingle and interact. On one end, legislators have worked to tighten up the security for online dating sites. Last year, Illinois passed a new law – called the “Internet Dating Safety Act” – that requires online dating services to inform users on whether or not they conduct criminal background checks.
Numerous other states have instituted similar legislation of their own, all in an effort to increase the accountability of dating services. Since dating websites can provide predators with an incredibly efficient means of locating potential victims, states like Illinois believe that the websites should be required to monitor their customers to determine which ones are trustworthy and which ones are dangerous.
Perhaps in response to the online dating safety legislation movement, the number of dating service users that run makeshift background checks on potential mates has increased. According to a recent study by Washington’s Pew Research Center, about 30 percent of people active on dating services try to learn more about their potential matches before agreeing to in-person meetings. Pew’s findings indicate that these cautious people look for everything from a potential date’s relationship history to traces of criminal or sex offender history.
Users looking to cover all bases are best served by selecting dating sites that commit to running background checks on their members or offer an easy way for a member to request one. Vendors like backgroundchecks.com offer comprehensive and instantaneous background screening options to dating sites, such as US OneSEARCH, which looks for signs of criminal active, and US Registered Offender OneSEARCH, which browses sex offender registries from around the country.