Last year around 40 million people in the United States used an online dating service. While many are inspired to join the sites by the T.V. commercials that show success stories, the dark side of the dating sites needs to be taken into consideration.
On Tuesday, three major online dating services announced that they will start screening their sites for sex offenders and other criminals. The online dating services have teamed with up the state attorney general to make their sites safer for customers. The effort to screen was brought on after numerous customers of the online dating sites were sexually assaulted.
Last year, a Los-Angeles woman filed a lawsuit against Match.com after she was sexually assaulted while on a date with someone she met through the dating site. According to the Orange County Register, the victim's date had been convicted of sexual assault in the past. Match.com ended up settling with the victim and began working on making their site safer for future users.
Which Sites Are Participating?
Match.com, eHarmony and Spark Networks (JDate and Christian Mingle) have all teamed up with California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. According to the Los Angeles Times, the dating sites will begin to check their member applications with sex-offender registries. Not only will this cross-check take place, but the sites will also work on checking the accuracy on the applications. The three online dating services have also agreed to create an easily accessible hot line to report abuse, reported the L.A. Times.
What Data Will Be Screened?
The online dating services will begin screening their clients for violence, identity theft and a history of sexual assault, said Harris, adding that a member identified as a registered sex offender will be terminated from the site.
Any criminal information gathered from the dating sites will be provided to the attorney general's office.
How Will Clients Be Protected?
The matchmaking sites feature disclaimers claiming they bear no liability for any harm resulting from the use of their services. Match.com's website, for instance, says, You are solely responsible for your interactions with other members. You understand that Match.com currently does not conduct criminal background checks on its members. Match.com also does not inquire into the backgrounds of all its members or attempt to verify the statements of its members.
Following a spate of attacks on clients, several of the sites have been working on hot lines for victims to report abuse; they will also begin to educate their clients as well, informing them about the risks of being targeted in financial scams, reported the L.A. Times.
A Safety Tips page is available on eHarmony. The site supplies users with 10 steps to follow for a safe and successful experience.