If you’re anything like us, you’ve
sometimes often found yourself wanting to do a background check on at least one of your online dates before you got too emotionally involved. You were a skeptic that a match could be THAT good. Call it intuition, call it a hunch, call it an inkling—whatever it was—something made you wish you could do some recon.
We have a friend—someone we know in real life—who had a suspicion that things were amiss with the guy she’d met online and dated for a few months. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and there were red flags along the way but it wasn’t until the clues added up that she found herself discovering that he had embezzled thousands of dollars at work and was awaiting trial for it. Oh, and this was his second offense at embezzling.
We’re not one to think the Internet has to be a scary place. We’ve met lots of neat people on it. For every case like our friend’s, there are thousands of others that go quite well. However, we also know it’s very easy to pretend to be something or someone that you’re not, so there’s a bit of a balancing act involved when using the dating medium of the day and being prudent.
We can hear you now: “But no one actually uses a background service in real life, do they? That’s just on tv and in the movies where people hire private investigators who sit in dark cars and take pictures with long telephoto lenses of seriously scandalous stuff.” You don’t want to get an unmarked manila envelope with photos of your match’s every movement.
Private investigators might be a bit overboard, but there are things you can do to check out your matches.
Can I Do a Background Check for Free?
For starters, there are some things you can do for free:
1. Google search
2. Social media search
Maybe you do these things already but you feel guilty about it. Like you’re eavesdropping on something you shouldn’t be listening to. While we appreciate the integrity of this thought, in this day and age—when meeting someone online that you don’t know—you don’t have the luxury (usually) of common friends who can speak to someone’s character.
While social media accounts and Google don’t give the full picture, they definitely assist in making judgment calls. You can see what a person is willing to share, what they like, and see additional pictures. Obviously, don’t get crazy in judging them, but these search results can be helpful.
Remember our friend above whose match had a little problem with embezzling money? One simple Google search showed her all she needed to know—the local papers had covered his money problems.
Of course, the options listed above are non-starters if you don’t know a person’s name, so it goes without saying that these are things you can do after you’ve reached the point of exchanging names—well, unless the match has a distinctive first name, lives in a less-urban area, and has a distinctive career or hobby.
You don’t always need to know a last name to discover more about Penelope from Walla Walla, Washington, who is a wedding photographer or Maverick from Cullman, Alabama, who is a state archery champ. Google is your friend if you’ve got major clues like that from their profile. Otherwise, you’re going to need to know a match’s first and last name in order to get decent results.
However, the free stuff can only show you so much. If you want a check of their criminal background or bankruptcy declarations or the sex offender registry, you’re probably going to need more. Well, unless that illegal activity was documented in the local papers, as was the case for our aforementioned friend’s date.
Consider a Legit Background Check Service
Enter another real-life friend of ours who first introduced us to the idea of using a background check service. A few years ago, she told us that she and her friends from church who were also dating online paid for a monthly subscription service so they could check any matches who they just didn’t have a good feeling about. It was a small cost, they rationalized, for peace of mind.
Over time, we’ve heard of others doing the same. And since, we’ve done some research on the various options for conducting background checks.
So What Background Check Service Would You Recommend?
There are a bazillion background check services online and it can be difficult to distinguish which ones are good for online dating and which ones are more for businesses who are conducting background checks on employees or volunteers or for landlords conducting them on prospective tenants.
If we had to recommend the one we like best, though, we’d recommend BeenVerified. It’s been around for 10 years and has been covered by some major media outlets like Mashable and Tech Crunch.
One of the reasons we like BeenVerified is it’s not clunky. The website is easy to use and we’re all about making the process as quick and painless as possible.
However, be forewarned: The first time you use the site, you’ll probably think you’re going to get the info for free. You type in the person’s name and city and the search proceeds. You’ll sit around for a few minutes as it shows you the progress bar churning away as it gathers the data for your search. It’ll tell you your results are coming right up. But when they do finally give you the results, they’ll ask you to pay in order to see them. So don’t get your hopes up that you’ve found some hole in the portal that allows you a free check. It’s not gonna happen.
What Comes in the Background Check?
If you become a member of BeenVerified, each background check will include background reports, contact information, phone and email lookups, address lookups, criminal records, and you’ll get a bonus benefit of being notified when reports change.
How Much Will This Service Cost Me?
Just like online dating, BeenVerified will give you a greater discount if you sign up for 3 months over 1 month. Currently, a one-month membership runs around $25 and a 3-month membership is just under $20 a month. And like online dating, your membership will auto-renew at the end of the period, so set some sort of reminder before your pay period is up.
But Do I HAVE to Get a Background Check Service?
In a word—no. Here’s the thing, though: If you’re nervous about online dating and you don’t trust your Google skills, background check services can offer that extra peace of mind that might be helpful. You can certainly date online without them, but if your nervousness about internet safety is keeping you from getting into the game (so to speak), then spend the extra money and get a background check service like BeenVerified so you at least can rest assured that your match might be weird but they’re not a criminal.
Don’t know where to start with online dating? Check out our reviews of the Best Christian Dating Sites.
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