Whether you met your date through Match.com or a mutual friend on Facebook, it’s a good idea to do a background search before diving in.

A Background Search Is Your Essential Dating Tool

You’ve got your go-to first date jeans ready, and you’ve already chosen a trendy restaurant for drinks. You’re having a great hair day and with work wrapped up for the weekend, you’re ready for a fun night out with someone that could be “the one.” All you have left to do is the background search.

Wait, what? A background search? Yes, thankfully the speed of technology has accommodated not only sliding past hundreds of wrong matches to find the right guy or girl, but also the ability to be sure you’re not about to go out with an axe murderer.

Even if you met your new date through a mutual Facebook connection, instead of a site like Match.com or eHarmony, your mutual friend probably isn’t ready to vouch for your date’s entire legal history. And given that it’s your safety at stake, would you trust them to anyway?

A Match Made in Cyberspace

Online dating sites have replaced the traditional connection points that used to lead to dates. For those that don’t want to wait around, hoping they’ll run into a compatible potential mate at a bar or beg their friends to set them up, Match.com and eHarmony are welcome options. Now, they’re often the first-place people turn to when they want to meet someone new.

According to Online Dating Magazine, there are 2,500 online dating sites in the United States alone, and another 5,000 are matching up singles around the globe. Nearly half of all singles have jumped in to try online dating at least once, and 66% of users say they’ve gone on to date someone they met at one of these sites.

While Match.com and eHarmony rank among the most-used sites, at 39.7 million and 4.1 million visitors each month, respectively, there are other sites geared toward hobbies and special interests. There are sites for Trekkies and those who are looking for love with fellow clowns – we’re not judging!

The Risk

Unfortunately, a few participants on dating sites like these purposely misrepresent themselves. They pose as singles interested in finding a great match, but in reality, they are planning an attack. Whether it’s sexual abuse or an opportunity to financially manipulate someone, online dating can prove to be a dangerous way to meet people. Dirty John, anyone?

Even if your date is guilty of lesser crimes, such as being mired in debt or failing to pay his last two landlords rent for several months each, you may decide it’s not the type of person you’d like to date.

Your date may have just gotten into a little trouble at a young age, and it may not completely ruin their chances with you. Wouldn’t you still like to know about that history before you jump into an otherwise-great relationship?

How to Protect Yourself

Fortunately, you’re not forced to take your chances on dating sites. Instead, you can take easy steps to protect yourself and learn as much as possible about your date before heading out to meet them.

A background search can provide detailed information, with clear specifics about a date’s criminal history, their credit history and whether they are a convicted sex offender. Here are step-by-step instructions for conducting a thorough background search on your potential date:

Begin at DirtSearch.org, where you can access free search tools to learn about your date’s background. Our site includes access to both state resources and nationwide records, as well as ways to search by phone number and other resources.

  1. Conduct a criminal background check. You are able to search by county, state and across national levels. The county listing will provide the most detail, but you’ll need to know what counties your date has lived in.
  2. Check the sex offender registry.
  3. Thoroughly examine social media and include a Bing Internet picture search.

A background check won’t tell you that your date will always be late or that they tend to shovel popcorn into their mouths during the best parts of the movie. It won’t tell you that they’re a slob or that they made the near-criminal mistake of wearing a grubby Nickleback t-shirt to meet you. What it will do is increase the likelihood that you can identify and avoid a date that may put you in danger.

Online dating is a great way to meet people, and most of the time, you’ll be safe. But while you’re spending time deciding what to wear or the perfect venue for your first date, don’t forget this important step of conducting a background search.

At DirtSearch we can help you get started vetting your date. We hope you won’t find anything on your date, but we’ll still be glad you stopped by. And so will you. We’re all about digging the dirt and keeping you safe.