How to Research an Online Date before Meeting Them in Person

So you have met someone over the internet. Perhaps you started conversing while playing an MMORPG, or you may have stumbled across one another in a chat room. In any case, you are possibly head over heels in love. You may even feel ready to meet them in person. But, wait. Are you sure your online crush is who they say they are? Fortunately for you, there’s a way to find out.

The Fun and Dangers of Online Dating

The Internet and connected devices have fundamentally changed the dating game. Now we meet people through our smartphones or gaming consoles, rather than actually in person. This opens up the possibilities for who you can meet. It also brings forth unique dangers.

Most of us have heard horror stories about “catfishing.” It’s a nasty practice where a con artist poses as a love interest online. Scammers are everywhere, especially on dating sites. But these types of lies are not the only ones to worry about.

Even if the person on the other side is real, they might not be who they claim to be on their profiles. It’s possible that the other person has a criminal record they don’t want you to know about. They could hide their marital status. In less serious cases, they could hide debt issues from you. In that case, if you do marry, their debts become part of your life as well.

As we all know by now, it’s nearly impossible to truly keep a secret over the internet. If someone is hiding something, there are ways to find out. Read ahead to learn more about this.

How to Find Out if Your Online Date is Real or Lying

There are many ways to run a background check on your online date. You can perform a simple Google search, and alternatively, you can use a professional people lookup website. Let’s look at some of the ways you can research your potential fiancée without breaking the law:

Use Search Engines

Start by using a search engine like Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo to look up the full name the date gives you. Google should churn out publicly available information, such as a blog, a personal website, a LinkedIn profile, or profile information listed on other websites. You can follow these links to learn more about your date.

You can find a trove of information about a person just using a search engine like Google. For example, it might show your date’s social media profiles that you may have missed. It could also show his or her profiles published on business websites. A simple search may help you unearth information that confirms whether your date is real or not.

In some cases, a search engine may not return any significant results. This can happen if your date has a commonly used name. In that case, search by name and hometown. If nothing at all works, it’s possible that the date has lied to you about their real name and address. Don’t panic yet; they might have perfectly sensible reasons to do so.

While search engines are really useful for basic searches, they may not turn out any extensive information you may be looking for. But, doing a Google search is better than proceeding without any.

Try Social Media Profiles

If your date is not already a Facebook friend, you can look up their public profiles on social media. Go to Facebook or Instagram and search by their names or email addresses. You should be able to access a profile unless they have disabled public search features.

You can also do this using Google. Go to Google, type in the name or email address, and then after a space type “site:” and put in the social network name. Here’s an example: john smith site:www.twitter.com.

You can look at photos, videos, or friends lists on social media. You can reference the information to what your date has given you to make sure nothing is out of place.

Find Public Records

Want to know if your date has been arrested before? Could your date be a registered sex offender? Are they as single as they claim? You can verify these facts about a person by searching public records. These refer to court documents, arrest records, marriage certificates, and other such information the government makes available to the public.

Looking up public records is not exactly convenient. Many records may not be made available online by various government agencies. In certain cases, you might have to physically be present at a courthouse or a registrar to see the documents you need.

But don’t let that deter you. You can look up some public records online. To do so, first, you need a few key details. You should know your date’s legal name. Then, you need to know the jurisdiction where the public records are kept. That would be the court where a trial was held or the police jurisdiction where they may have gotten arrested.

Some websites make public records available for free. For example, familysearch.org is a free site for looking up birth certificates. The departments of health in many states manage marriage and divorce records. You should go to your date’s home state’s department of health website to find out if they are still married.

Looking up public records can be cumbersome. It could even be impossible if you don’t know your date’s real home state or home town. That’s where the next step comes in.

Look Up Specific People Search Sites

Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could look up criminal records, lawsuits, arrest records, or even a phone number of your date with a simple, Google-like search? This is where people search sites show up.

People lookup search sites are excellent tools for performing background checks. These are not superficial checks like what you can find with Google. Rather, people lookup sites like CheckPeople perform “deep” background checks.

You can find out things like whether you date has filed for bankruptcy before, how many times they have been married, or whether your date is related to anyone famous or notorious. Some sites even compile social media profiles and online dating accounts.

Where do all this information come from? Most are sourced from publicly available records. Also, some sites purchase information from data brokers.

We don’t realize how much information we give up when using various online apps and digital services. Data brokers purchase such information and sell it to marketers, advertisers, and in some cases, background check websites.

The practice isn’t essentially illegal. But a lot of probing information can end up on a background search site that a significant other, an employer, a landlord, or anyone else curious can see.

This may sound disadvantageous. But it’s also beneficial when you are trying to learn about someone better.

People search sites aren’t free to use. However, for the fee you pay, you can get access to a lot of information.

Search Other Dating Sites

Want to know how your date presents themselves on dating sites? You can go to various dating sites and look up their name or another identifier. Read the dating profiles to see if they differ. Different types of dating profiles under the same name should raise red flags.

You don’t have to look up dating sites individually if you use a people search site as recommended above. It can save you a lot of time.

Is Running a Background Check on a Date Legal?

Technically, running a background check using a people search engine is not illegal per se. However, the reason you run the background check does matter to law enforcement.

You can’t, for example, conduct online searches about a person without their explicit consent if you are an employer. Under the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA), you can’t use personal information found online for employment purposes.

Neither can you use such information to discriminate against a person for disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act maintains this. The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on certain identifying factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, and so on.

You can conduct a background check purely for personal reasons as long as you are not an employer, a landlord, or something similar. However, you can look up your date to protect yourself from potential scams or criminal activity.

Some Words of Caution

It’s very important to understand that your intentions matter when running online background checks. Never use the above-mentioned tools to stalk your date. In simple terms, don’t use any of the data you find for criminal purposes on your part. This includes blackmail.

Also, don’t panic just because you find something unsavory about them online. Let’s say you find your date’s marriage record. You may want to cancel meeting them because of this. Instead, you can simply ask them about it.

It’s your right to know if your date is a registered sex offender. You can also learn about any criminal past. But do understand that having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily make your date a bad person.

Background checks are a great way to unearth deception. Don’t forget, though, that you can also ask your date probing questions during conversations.

All in all, use the online tools mentioned above responsibly when looking up someone online. Strictly use these only for personal protection reasons, not for anything else.

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