Perhaps the greatest problem facing the online dating industry is that of “phony” profiles. Some estimates are that as many as 40% of male profiles on dating websites are those of married men posing as bachelors.
High percentages of online daters, both male and female, are estimated to lie about their age, height, weight, and income. And there are many horror stories of singles posting obsolete photos of themselves. Women often complain of being buried with dishonest emails from men claiming to be good looking, well-off, and in great shape. After many wasted hours they discover that the vast majority of these men are liars. As the New York Times reported, “Many online daters turn out to be married, and it is taken for granted that everybody lies a little.” (6/29/03).
Most troubling, felons are concealing their criminal records. As USA Today pointed out, “with the mere click of a mouse, you can stumble across a serial killer just as easily as your soul mate.” (“Truth in Advertising Hits Internet Dating,” USA Today, 4/19/04).
Verification of profiles and photos is therefore a critical area of concern. Millions of singles have dropped out of internet dating because of bad experiences with dishonest members of dating websites. They are likely to return to online dating if a solution to this problem is provided. The International Association of Dating Websites urges dating websites to offer their members the opportunity to get their photos verified and background checks performed. A number of companies are currently offering these kinds of services to online daters. Among the most notable:
betterDatingbureau.com is not a dating website, but rather, works with a person’s online dating service. Subscribing members’ photos have been professionally taken by bDB’s photography company and are dated. Members have been voluntarily screened (like a new employee) by bDb’s screening company and their summarized “Personal Credibility Reports” are posted along with their dated photos in certified “Member Reports.” Accurate/current photographs and certified personal information, including “Marital Status Indicators” are included. There are three levels of membership: Bronze members are certified in terms of the date their photo was taken, height, and age. Silver members are certified for these factors plus marital status (based on current paystub declaration and last year’s W2 and employment status. Gold Members are certified for all of these factors, plus, education, job title, industry last 5 years, credit rating, rent/own resident, average income (3 years, )driving record, and criminal record. bDb is paid directly by the dater, rather than the dating website. bDb shares the revenue with the dating website the dater belongs to, so this is an additional profit center for the dating website. Contact Warren Austin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 480/947-4260.
Match.com “employs more than 100 people to read every bit of data that a subscriber inputs, which is then checked for consistency and oddities,” says president Tim Sullivan, who adds that 2,000 people are booted off the site every month because data doesn’t square,” according to USA Today, 7/29/04.
CertifiedDates.com checks out marital status and criminal records of singles who are members. Skipp Porteus, a New York private investigator, is the Founder. 212/579-4302, email@example.com.
True.com, in partnership with a criminal-record database firm called Rapsheets.com, which stockpiles 150 million records compiled from more than 110 state and county agencies. is an online matching service that provides multiple layers of security, including criminal screening. Anyone whose name has a felony conviction recorded is automatically prevented from communicating with members. At signup, every TRUE member agrees to follow a code of ethics. Members are allowed to block out matches in six categories. TRUE requires that every member certify that he or she is not married, and all community members are screened against public records to check marital status.