Investigate Who You Date

Investigate Who You Date

A poll conducted by Spokeo, a people search website, finds more singles than ever are conducting background checks on the people they date.

Who you date
Click on image to see the entire infographic from Spokeo.

It used to be you had to hire a detective to do a background check on the person you want to date, a lover or your ex. But these days, a lot of personal data can be discovered with the click of a mouse – even more information if you’re willing to pay for it.

In January 2014, people search website Spokeo commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a poll that revealed 71 percent of Americans would do a background check on a potential love interest in order to feel safer about dating them. The survey also asked if they would be willing to take it beyond the information they could find for free. Of those surveyed, 35 percent said yes, they would pay a service like Spokeo to search even deeper.

The free search on Spokeo allows you to enter a name and city, and will generate a list of people, their age range and the name of the street where they live. Purchase a basic membership ($3.95 for 6 months/$4.95 for 3 months) and you can also see their full street address, birth month/year, gender, email address, phone number, a Google Earth photo of their residence, the value of their residence, a map of their residence, marital status and more. Pay more and you can search court records.

Steve Rambam, a private investigator specializing in Internet privacy cases, says, “Privacy is dead – get over it.” Still, it can be startling to realize that so much personal information is so easily available — something to remember the next time you shave 10 years off your age when filling out an online dating profile.

If you’re not able to “get over it” as Rambam suggests, you can opt-out of having your information listed in people search websites – but you must opt out, and that requires doing so with each individual people search website.

Key Findings from the Spokeo Survey:

  • When broken down by gender, women are generally more willing to conduct a search on someone (77 percent of women compared to 66 percent of men), but are less willing to pay for a search (40 percent of women said they would only conduct free searches compared to 32 percent of men).
  • Who’s doing the spending on searches? Of those who would conduct a search, 29 percent of males said they would be willing to pay $26 or more compared to only 21 percent of women.

“Google searches used to be the only thing people would do,” says cyber-dating expert Julie Spira, “but these days, people want more than that.” She recommends background checks as a routine part of safe dating.

“I recommend doing a Google search before a first date,” she says. “Check his Facebook page before the second date, and by the third or fourth date, do the background search just to make sure everything he’s been telling you adds up.

“Women want to know more about who they are going out with, and research, whether for safety or curiosity, is a crucial part of the process,” Spira says.

But she also says to keep your searching secret. “Don’t kiss and tell and don’t search and tell,” she says, adding that the information found on people search websites is not always up to date.  “Don’t assume that everything you find in accurate,” she says. “Take it with a grain of salt.

“I want to feel safe with the men I’m dating,” Spira says, “and with so many research tools and services like Spokeo available today, dating without doing a little extra digging just isn’t smart.”

Copyright © 2014 Singular Communications, LLC.

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