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Beware of snake oil salesmen, fake medical cures and criminal databases on dating sites

There have been web articles recently about dating sits offering so-called “national criminal database” searches on potential matches to weed out criminals, cheats  and predators.

Unfortunately, offering background checks on dating sites may end up doing more harm then good,  Although it may on occasion turn up some useful data, they are like fake medical  cures because people are lulled into believing they provide protection.  By letting people develop a false sense of security, it can put users at even greater risk because they may let their guard down.  As outlined in the recent article ESR wrote for ASIS magazine, these databases are full of holes.  In some states, such as New York or California they are nearly worthless.  For details see:  http://www.securitymanagement.com/article/how-avoid-hiring-mishaps-005529 

Background checks on dating sites are one of those situations where it needs to be done right. Even if daters are told about the limitations of such searches, it is such a technical area that is it is hard to see how a consumer can really digest the information in a meaningful way.   The irony is that to substantially increase the value of a background check by taking greter measures is not very expensive, especially considering the dangers of dating someone who is dishonest or unsafe.

 ESR’s recommendation is for dating sites to offer real background checks. Either a user can pay for it, or a person that wants to register on a quality site can pay for it.   If a user of the dating site does not want to a utilize the service, that is their decision.  However, ESR questions if it is really good idea to offer cheap and oftentimes meaningless background checks that may well create a false sense of security. 


Background Checks in California: Special Rules

When it comes to many aspects of human resources, including background checks, the rules in the independent Republic of California are completely different then the other 49 states.  Background checks in California can present many traps for the unwary that simply assume that national forms and procedures will work in California.  This becomes a problem particularly for California employers that utilize out of state background firms.  Some businesses that are owned by an out of state company  that has a national contract for screening services can find themselves  potentially in violation of California law since the out of state screening firm may have insufficient knowledge of California laws.  The real problem: Under the California Investigative Consumer reporting Agencies Act, Section 1786.50, an employer can potentially liable for $10,000 per violation of California law.  Although there are no cases on that section, not understanding California law can cost an employer.

ESR President Lester Rosen had the opportunity of working with the California legislature 2002 and helped to draft the current California law regulating background checks. and to testify before the state legislature. 

Some of the  areas where California is different includes the certification form a client must sign, special wording on the first page of the background report, special wording that MUST be in the disclosure provided to the consumer, a special check-of box for a free report, a required Spanish version  form of rights that must be made available to all consumers if they object to the report, special procedures to assist consumers with questions, and a number of limitations on what can and cannot be reported.  An article about some of these requirements can be found at:  http://www.esrcheck.com/articles/AB655-California.php