Online dating will hopefully get a little safer now, since three major sites have agreed to background checks for prospective dating clients. Match.com, eHarmony and Sparks Networks (operator of JDate and ChristianMingle) will scan the histories of possible clients for sexual assault, identity theft and violence before allowing them access to their fee-based sites.
As announced by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, the sites will also up their online safety tools with “rapid abuse reporting systems,” online dating safety education, guidance for fraud prevention and how to safely meet people offline.
(MORE: Five Phrases to Take Off your Online Dating Profile Now)
The increased use of online dating sites has also brought an increase in financial scams and even physical abuse. A Match.com client sued last year, saying she was raped on a date with a repeat sex offender she had met through the site. The alleged attacker had at least six prior sex offense convictions.
The sites will now check subscribers against national sex offender registries and actively search for fake profiles. The rapid abuse reporting systems will give members access to a website, email address and/or phone number to report suspected criminal activity.
In 2011, 40 million Americans used an online dating service and spent more than $1 billion on online dating website memberships. Of couples married in the last three years, one in six met through an online dating service and one in five people have dated someone they met through an online dating site.