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Clues (blog)

Listen up: online screening far from foolproof

Hey – you wanna date online? You have to your homework. You can’t rely on the big guys protecting you.

Yeah, I heard the news. Yep, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced on March 20th that three of the nation's leading online dating providers issued a joint statement of business principles to help protect online daters against identity theft, financial scams and sexual predators. Means nothing. You are responsible for you. Did you hear me? You are responsible for you.

The statement, this agreement everyone is talking about, it’s nonbinding. It carries no enforcement penalties. “They can't be sued by private parties based on this agreement. We fully expect that the companies will, in good faith, comply," Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the CA Attorney General's office, explained to the Associated Press.

Here’s the thing, the agreement between the CA Attorney General and online dating providers eHarmony, and Spark Networks (which operates JDate and ChristianMingle), says the companies will protect their members through the use of online safety tools, including checking subscribers against national sex offender registries and by providing a rapid abuse reporting system for members. OK, well, it’s a day late a dollar short but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

So, what if Mr. Squeaky Clean at 4:25 pm commits a sex crime at 9:25 pm.? Next day after work what you glam it up and head out to meet him for your date… YOU, my dear, have to check to stay on top of things for yourself. We don’t know how quickly things will move through the bureaucratic process. We don’t know how quickly profiles will be removed from select paid dating sites, presuming they’re caught and removed at all. We never really know whom we’re meeting to begin with. All we know is that we must be our own bodyguards.

How can we protect ourselves? We must InvestiDate:

  1. Create a Date-a-Base
  2. Check Criminal databases
  3. Call someone without dialing
  4. Watch for military and affinity scams
  5. Be wary of signs of drug use

Remember, people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

Please email me directly with any questions.