"For people who aren't ex-felons, there's no invasion of privacy, there's no reason not to do it." But perhaps there is, says online dating expert Liz Kelly, author of the book "SMART Man Hunting." "I think it's a little extreme as a basic service," Kelly says."It adds a level of paranoia that is going to add tension before you even meet.Rapsheets' spokeswoman Camile Gamble says the company has a vast database of over 175 million criminal convictions, both felonies and misdemeanors.
Welcome to the mysterious world of database-driven decision making -- a world potential daters likely wouldn't know, unless they've applied for a job recently.
True uses Investigation Technologies' to do the vetting, a firm recently acquired by database aggregator Choice Point.
That level of paranoia is not a good way to start a relationship. You don't want to get into talking about the past until you start getting more serious." Common sense measures, like meeting in a public place, should offer the necessary protection until a relationship gets to that point, she says.
Then, if some things aren't quite measuring up, a background check might be one tool to use.
We're out to clean up the industry." To back this point, True is actively supporting a bill introduced last week in the Texas state legislature than would require dating services to implement criminal background checks.
Match.com's Sullivan argues that tales of online dating nightmares are overblown, dismissing True's marketing campaign as "cheap scare tactics." Still, he says Match is considering its own enhancements to reassure users that potential mates are on the up and up.
Starting from paranoia The dating scene is a new venture for Rapsheets.
The firm doesn't make decisions on who gets to use True.com; its database just returns a "hit" when someone appears to have a past conviction.
Jupiter Research says some 30 million Americans now peruse online dating sites, and they spend close to 0 million looking for love online. "It is incredibly dangerous, and we are quite upset that somebody in the category is attempting to communicate to anyone that they are truly safe on their online dating service. If someone claims a community that's 100 percent free of people with bad backgrounds, of people who are not who they say they are, they are deceiving users," he says.
True, which opened in November, now claims it has half a million members. Vest concedes the service isn't perfect, but thinks it's a good start -- particularly in an industry that's still beating back a perception that online dating is rife with people who misrepresent themselves.
Criminal background checks aren't just for Little League coaches and church volunteers any more.