The Illinois Senate has passed legislation – Senate Bill 2545 (SB 2545) – that would create the ‘Internet Dating Safety Act’ requiring online dating websites offering services in Illinois to clearly disclose if they perform criminal background checks on members, according to a press release on the website of the bill’s sponsor Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago). SB 2545, which passed in the Senate 42 to 9, will next move to the House, where a similar bill has won committee approval. The full text of SB 2545 is available here. SB 2545 would also require online dating services that indicate they conduct criminal background checks to:

  • Use government databases, including criminal court records and sex offender registries;
  • Reveal if they allow a person with a criminal record to sign up as a member;
  • Inform members of safety tips when signing up for the service, such as excluding information such as full name, phone number, and home address when writing a profile, and;
  • Include a warning that background checks are not foolproof.
Online dating sites failing to follow requirements or lying about conducting background checks could face fines of up to $50,000 per violation. “As the popularity of internet dating grows, it is important to require sites like or eHarmony to inform new members of the possible risks of meeting people through their site,” Senator Silverstein stated in the press release. As reported earlier on the ESR News blog, three of the nation’s leading online dating websites – eHarmony,, and Spark Networks – and the California Attorney General issued a ‘JOINT STATEMENT OF KEY PRINCIPLES OF ONLINE DATING SITE SAFETY’ that online dating providers should follow to help protect members from sexual predators through background checks. The joint statement followed the 2010 sexual assault of a Los Angeles-area woman by a man she met through who had several previous sexual assault convictions prior to the attack. The company settled a lawsuit with the woman after she sought a court order requiring to background check applicants for sex offenders. However, criminal background checks using only online database searches for sex offenders can lead to a false sense of security, according to background check expert Attorney Lester Rosen, CEO of San Francisco-area based Employment Screening Resources (ESR). “Databases can be notoriously inaccurate, so people still need to understand that they are responsible for their personal safety,” says Attorney Rosen, the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a comprehensive guide for background checks. “Database searches are subject to false negatives and false positives and have issues with accuracy, timeliness, and completeness. They can also cause harm by creating a false sense of security.” For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening company accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at or call 415.898.0044. Sources: About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM – provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474. About ESR News: The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected].]]>

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