3 things to know about background checking your date

From paid sites, to professionals, to social media

With safety concerns growing as online dating becomes more prevalent, more people are turning to background checks to vet the people they’re going out with. Here are a few things to know about background checking:

1. Common background checking websites might not always be reliable

According to this article on Pro Publica by T. Christian Miller:

InstantCheckmate, in my small sample, turned up the most information. It found all three names [that Miller tested for the article], along with address and relative information. It also was the only one of the three services that pulled up a complete criminal record showing that O?Leary had been convicted and sentenced for rape. The company seems to realize the risk of the information it?s delivering.

Fair warning. The Internet is filled with complaints from angry people who have used the services and felt cheated by their baroque pricing plans. And all three services turned up erroneous data in my sample. My friend was listed as a current resident at a place he hasn?t lived since 2006. InstantCheckmate claimed I had a Drug Enforcement Agency license, and could prescribe narcotics. Sadly not true.

2. There might be more cause for concern than you realize

According to this article in Criminal Watchdog:

About 1 in 5 Americans have a criminal record. You can see if your date is one of them by running either a county, state, or national background check.

County records include crimes only committed in that particular county. Since most crimes are prosecuted at the county level, you’ll likely want to run a county check on your dates in order to get the most detailed records.

However, there are some caveats: you need to know which county (or counties) they spent most of their lives, and you’ll need to have someone physically go to the courthouse to obtain the records. Luckily, that person doesn’t necessarily have to be you. For example, our country background check service sends a licensed investigator on your behalf to get the records.

3. Social media can be a good resource

According to this article by KTUL in Tulsa:

[Linda Montgomery, who performs background checks professionally,] and her team check social media all the time. Their advice? Use websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to verify things a person you don’t know has told you about themselves.

“Their approximate age, towns they’ve lived in, any activities they’ve been involved in,” said Montgomery.

Where’d they go to school? What places have they worked? What about special interests? It’s all information you can easily obtain in the course of a conversation, in person or online.

“You need to first determine whether this person is being honest and truthful and open about themselves,” said Montgomery.

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About Jordan Murray Jordan is a journalist who has written extensively about dating and lifestyle for multiple publications.

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