Safe Internet Dating Service Requires Background Checks for Criminal Records?

Discussions about online dating services: the debate over which is the safest internet dating service...

By Stephanie Constantina

The world of online dating service providers has been electric recently with a debate centering around safe internet dating -- that is, depending upon how you see it. New legislation has been proposed to force all online dating services to either provide a background check for criminal records on all their members or to provide a warning on their site that they don't (in effect to claim -- fairly or unfairly -- that they are not as safe).

Bringing this proposed legislation is True.com, who say it is purely about safe dating and who already offer backround checks for criminal convictions as well as to check on the single/married status of their members.

The proposal that those services who don't provide background checks would have to carry what is in effect a 'not so safe internet dating' warning, so perhaps implying they do not rank among the best and most reliable online dating services, has brought a howl of protest in forums and elsewhere from the rest of the online dating industry.

There are a number of differing objections and counter arguments in this safe dating debate. Chief amongst the arguments levelled against True.com is that as a background check for criminal records inevitably cannot be 100% reliable, such checks create a false sense of security which may make ordinary members of an internet dating service actually more vulnerable to undesirables who do slip through the net.

True.com's opponents also argue that the proposed legislation is not about safe internet dating but is simply a marketing ploy by the company to gain more business at their expense, and that rather than strengthening the dating industry the legislation could lead to a decline in the industry if it makes people leary of using internet dating at all.

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True.com counter these claims by arguing that criminal background checks remove the majority of undesirables from a dating service, so creating a safer environment for their members and a more reliable online dating service, and that this is a much better situation than currently exists in most internet dating services. They also point to the research they have carried out that suggests that one of the important concerns of ordinary people using dating services is safety.

So what is my take on this so-called internet dating safety debate? Background checks for criminal records are obviously a good idea in theory, if they really do make dating safer or provide a more reliable online dating service. But could the argument that they create a false sense of security that in practice makes people more vulnerable be correct?

This would perhaps depend on how people view criminal background checks. Those who are urgently looking for reliable safe dating online and who also believe such background checks to be infallible might be more at ease -- and so more vulnerable -- than they would otherwise be.

However, it seems unlikely to me that the majority of people would fall into this trap. Because we have a police service on our streets do we feel safer when encountering a stranger? Some may well do -- probably most don't. It isn't a clear cut case of one or the other, and different individuals could be affected differently.

Is this then an argument for not having the apparent protection of criminal background checks? Probably not, on balance, though that is not necessarily to come down on the side of enforced background checks, as both arguments have merit. What is important here is that people who do use so-called safe internet dating services (as well as those who use good dating sites that don't have that particular descriptor) should be educated to be on their guard against dangerous people who they might encounter online (see our info about internet dating scams to help you with safe dating practices), and that they understand that though a dating service that uses background checks may possibly be safer than one that doesn't in a general sense, no dating service can be a completely safe dating service simply because life itself isn't 100% safe.

As it stands, usually online dating is safe, potentially and comparatively, when compared with off-line dating, at least before you go out and meet face-to-face the person whom you are dating. During the initial stages of a relationship online there may be the opportunity to check someone out if you know who they are (and before you commit to meeting them in the flesh) either by paying to have an independent background check for criminal records carried out (or by using True.com's combined background check and dating service) as well as by asking pertinent questions (see this safe dating practices article).

Internet dating that includes background checks is bound to be more expensive than a service that doesn't, as a totally free background check surely cannot exist, so as the old saying goes, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

Note: The contents of this article constitute a personal opinion of what has been observed to be taking place within the online dating industry in recent times and should not be relied upon for accuracy or for any other purpose. This article is exclusive to SingleDating.com and only appears at that website -- if you are reading this elsewhere then you are reading an illegal copy. Please visit http://www.SingleDating.com to inform us of the violation.


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Find out more about SinglesFinders policies and your safety: Potential criteria for a more 'safe' internet dating site than many, in our opinion. Please note that SinglesFinders does NOT include background checks for criminal records or other criteria.


Resources to help you find the most safe Internet dating:


Court Records

Using this site you can easily and quickly carry out background checks for criminal records on someone you are emailing, if you know who they are, before you begin dating them offline. Access a number of records for anyone, including criminal records.


More Safe Internet Dating?

Nominated criteria for how to find a safe internet dating site -- nominated by SingleDating.com, that is, as we believe these criteria go a long way in becoming the best web site of this kind. But please note that SinglesFinders does not include background checks for criminal records.

Safe Internet Dating for Christians?
Where is safe internet dating for Christians, and is this it? Maybe, maybe not. Please note that this site does not include background checks for criminal records.

Safe Euro Dating
A page that discusses what makes safer dating and in particular safe European dating.

Best Online Dating Services http://www.edatingcentral.com/
Best online dating services, a comparison list, but be careful as some of the safety points listed higher up this page may not apply to some sites listed through this link...


This page is for helping to define what is or could be safe internet dating...

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