SAFETY IN ONLINE DATING

Let’s face it; the online dating world is not for the faint-hearted.  Even meeting someone who you were introduced to by a trusted friend is uncertain as you are dealing with a unique personality with all of their family history and baggage that naturally comes along with of their unique family circumstances and DNA.
With the advent of online dating sites, the virtual world has become one of the best ways to meet a potential compatible lifelong mate.  Then again, all good things have a negative side. Along with the cyber dating revolution the need to check-out just who you are going to diner with for the first time may be important.

Being Judgmental or Good Common Sense?

Some individuals consider the practice of checking into another person’s past as excessive, over-reacting or just plain paranoid.  They may think of a background check as judgmental, maintaining a perspective that everyone has done something wrong to some degree or has some kind of skeleton in their closet.  These individuals tend to maintain a philosophy of “there but the grace of God go I.”  Others are more than happy to avail themselves of the free resources out there on the internet and even using paid background checking services if only to ease their uncertainties that an entirely unknown cyber-guy is not going to kidnap them or harm them in some way.  After-all, a woman meeting a guy for the first time—whether in her immediate city or a region halfway across the country—is entitled to have some pre-knowledge of who they are meeting.

Is anybody Perfect?

With today’s plethora of new laws and ways to break them, it is becoming less-likely to find someone who has never been in trouble for something.  The U.S. represents only 5% of the entire world’s population, but, one-quarter of the world’s entire inmate population is incarcerated in the U.S.  We live in a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2006 more than 7.2 million people in the U.S. were in prison or on parole or probation with 2.3 million actually in prison at that time. Even China—with over four times the population as the U.S.—only had 1.6 million of its people incarcerated. These are yearly figures for only one year, consider how many people in our country actually have some kind of a record of entanglement with law enforcement somewhere in their history that’s going to come-up on a background check.  The bottom line is that it is getting more difficult to find someone who has not been in some kind of scrape with the law at some point in their past.   If you find that perfect match that appears to your world-views, likes and dislikes and perspectives that are important to you, it may be time for a compromise.  But it’s always good to know what you are getting into prior to diving in.  That’s where background checks become very useful in today’s internet-connected world.

Your Perfect Match has a Past—what Now?

If you are a woman and have already been in the communication phase with that special person who seems to have so much in common with you that you simply have to meet them regardless of some questionable issues that came-up when doing a background check, then consider the following.  You may want to meet in a very public place such as a restaurant and possibly have a close friend sitting in a booth not far from you on first meeting.  This may be a good idea for two reasons.  One, you will feel safer knowing your friend is there, and you can get their opinion of him based on his appearance and mannerisms from your friend later.  While you may not be standing in judgment of the person, you are simply taking practical and precautionary measures in a first meeting scenario with a relative total stranger.   Of course, It may not be a good idea to tell him or her about your friend sitting just a few tables away or any of your investigative work into their past at first meeting.  These could prove to be very uncomfortable and a quick deal-breaker for your otherwise ideal mate.

Free Ways to Verify Your Blind Date

Google: One of the most common, cheapest (hey, it’s free) and easiest ways to find out some basic information on an individual is to put their name in that little, simple and plain search box on a otherwise white background.  This is unofficially known as googling someone.  You may find-out some very interesting information about a person simply by doing a Google search.  There are many public databases out there that may come-up in an initial Google search including recent bookings or criminal history on such sites as mugshots.com or homefacts.com.  Many of the individual state’s sex offender websites are indexed by Google and will return hits for individuals who are amongst the almost 750,000 registered offenders on these lists across the country.  Keep in mind, the offenses that qualify a person to be on these websites are very diverse and may include something as simple as urinating in public or streaking across a high school football game.  It’s also important to keep in mind that there may be many individuals with the name of the person you are entering into the Google search box.  Given the sheer number of individuals in public databases and the commonality of many names nowadays, it’s a good idea to always do more in-depth and professional checking if you find something using Google or another search engine.  Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

Facebook:  Its amazing how much information you can gleam about someone by simply visiting their Facebook page.  You can dig deeper by looking at their network or friends and their pages.  Remember the old adage:  “You can judge a man by the company he keeps.”  The only problem here is that sometimes the friends on Facebook are more acquaintances than friends.  Some individual are not very selective of who they consider Facebook friends and may be in the business of collecting friends for the sake of simply the number game.  Of course, if that is the case, it may be that you can learn something about that person’s character simply by their need for acceptance.

LinkedIn:  Most business people and professionals maintain profiles on LinkedIn in order to detail their work-history, education and other pertinent details of their lives.  Professionals and business people can obtain a degree of control and positive influence within the business community by maintaining a profile on this site.  This site may also be useful in differentiating individuals based on same name hits from Google and other search engines.  Most individuals on this site are interested in networking for business purposes and not necessarily socializing or finding a date.  Some of you may be emailing or otherwise communicating with someone who claims to be a skilled professional or claims to have an academic past that is significant. If this is the case, you can go to check-out their LinkedIn profile to see if it jives with what you have been told in your pre-romance communications.  While not all information is verifiable and necessarily true on LinkedIn, it has more of an air of authenticity.  This is a good source of information and a means to future collaborate a person’s story.

ZabaSearch:  This is a public database that basically draws its information from landline telephone company records.  You can do searches at this website by either phone number of the person’s name.  If your person of interest maintains a listed telephone landline number, you most likely will be able to find, or confirm his/her number.  This helps in checking to see if the phone number they may have given you is indeed in agreement with the actual number the phone company has on record.  It may also help to find-out if their phone number they have given is actually theirs or a parent or—God forbid—a spouse.   Of course, most of these types of free services display links with pre filled-in textboxes with the person’s name you are looking for to other paid services such as PeopleFinders, Spokeo or Intelius.  These services complete more thorough and complete background checks for a price and are actually sponsors providing commissioned ad revenue to the free services.

Yahoo! People Search: This is a public, free database that actually allows for email searches.  Finding email addresses is the holy grail of internet searches; it historically is very difficult to find a private email address for an individual.  This service tends to return results for individuals who have been in business or has had some kind of posted public email address somewhere on the internet.  If you have only been communicating through an online dating service private email feature that does not provide actual email addresses, searching a potential date’s email address may come in handy.  If you find out the person of interest has opened the email account under a different person’s name, this could be a sign to be cautious in proceeding further. You can also search individuals by their name, address or phone number at Yahoo People Search.

The aforementioned services are all free and readily available with little effort from your home computer.  Of course there is a plethora of other, more detailed paid background check services that actually return a complete detailed history on an individual.  These are available by simply doing a Google search for background checks.

Online Dating In Conclusion

While reaching into the pool of online strangers offers more unknowns, It really does not matter if you were introduced by your best friend, met the person at church or on a Christian or secular online dating site, you never really know someone until you experience them over an extended period of time. Even then, humans are complex creatures, formed-up by nature and nurture; they can entirely surprise you years after knowing them.  While you don’t want to jump to unsubstantiated conclusions about an individual, you do want to protect yourself from the unknown.  For a first meeting with an otherwise total stranger, arming yourself with a little information can help guide to safety.  Only you can make an informed decision that will lead to a safe and functional relationship.

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