Kathryn's Blog

Who Really Are You Dating?

While I opposed the move in Florida backed by True.com to push background checks by dating sites (see the piece I wrote about it for the Tallahassee Democrat here), I am a firm believer that singles need to be very cautious about who they decide to date.  Here’s an article that gives some suggestions for how to check out your date ton find if he or she is really who they say they are, or if they have some trash in their background that they haven’t told and you need to know:

Online dating aids uncover red flags
CEDAR RAPIDS - It’s a little warped, I know, I know, but my first thought when Linn County’s warrants list went online? It’s another source to check out the backgrounds of potential dates.

Surely, I’m not the only person who thought that.

In other words, dating is not just about checking out a guy’s backside, but also his

How many of the Linn County warrants list’s first 24 hours of hits—a whopping 117,000 page views—were girlfriends, boyfriends or potential dates? Hmm?

``You’d be surprised by the people who are checking out someone they’re dating or thinking of marrying,’’ Linn County Sheriff Don Zeller said.

Employers also are using the site to check on employees, the sheriff said. I hadn’t thought of that. I figure I also can check out my son’s friends or their parents, just to be on the safe side before a party or overnight stay.

``It’s been an interesting little process,’’ Zeller said of the site’s many uses.

As a divorced mother, I not only have to be careful about whom I hang out with, but need to know as much as I can about any person I eventually might introduce to my son.

Maybe it’s my years of covering crime that have me thinking this way. Or perhaps it’s the horror stories I’ve heard about the children of single and divorced moms being victimized by the ``perfect’’ boyfriend. Either way, I’m going to research a guy for any obvious court-related red flags.

If you live in a small town where everybody knows everybody else, and you have friends in common with the potential date, a background check hardly seems necessary. However, if you meet a person who recently moved to town, or through an online dating service, digging is a good idea.

For the second year in a row, Illinois state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, introduced a bill, the Internet Disclosure and Safety Awareness Act, to require online dating sites in Illinois to disclose whether or not they perform background checks on members. A similar push was made in New Jersey.

Few sites do checks. And, their searches are only as good as the information members give them. Match.com doesn’t do member background checks, but offers tips for doing your own checking before a face-to-face meeting. Tips include running the potential date through http://www.ask.com or flat-out asking them to submit to a background check.


A lot of online sites offer more thorough checks of a person’s background for a fee. I haven’t gone that far. I stick to a few basic freebies.

I know a lot of ways to piece together basic information such as first and last names and age to find out a person’s full name, date of birth, basic criminal history and more. It can be tricky gathering basic information without sounding like a reporter or private investigator, but the effort is worth it.

Guy says he’s recently divorced? I head to http://www.iowacourtsonline.org

If the divorce was final within the last 15 years or so, it’ll be there. You also can check the same site for state criminal charges and civil cases, such as small claims, child support or orders of protection. Any cases with warrants won’t show up here.

In this way, my friend found a guy she had just started dating owed people money in small claims cases, and had a felony arson charge. The charge eventually was dropped, but he had some explaining to do. My friend never got that out of her mind. They broke up.

So far, none of the men I’ve met and checked out, either for dating or friendship, has been a debt-dodging/child-molesting/wife-beating psychotic.

But ya never know. So, I’m going to keep checking.

Web sites to help background checks

# http://www.ask.com
# http://www.iowacourtsonline.org
# http://www.iowasexoffender.com
# No divorce online? If you have a person’s address, you can do a reverse address search on http://www.411.com to see if the potential date is listed with a spouse.
# For federal court records—criminal, civil and bankruptcy—try PACER, Public Access to Court Electronic Records. Account set-up is necessary, and the charge is 8 cents a page.
# Want to know if a guy has moved around a lot? Type his name into http://www.zabasearch.com and you
can search one state or all 50 at a time. A list of addresses should pop up, sometimes with a birth month and year to help you figure out if you’re looking at the right person’s records.



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