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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Check Out a Date

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Interview with Sandy Heart of Check Out a Date - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Sandy Heart, talking about the “Check Out a Date” background checking service. Click here to read part 1. It’s well known that safety and security issues are top of mind for online daters (especially women), and they should be. Predators of all types, online or offline, look for opportunities to prey on others. Everyone should be on guard when getting to know others. It's important to educate yourself on online dating safety. Services like “Check Out a Date” aim to help people date more wisely.

As always, this article is neither an endorsement of the service by me nor by Online Dating Magazine. I look forward to any comments or feedback you have.

Is online dating safety really a major concern in today's dating environment? Some people might argue that the negative stigma of exposing yourself to “crazies or stalkers" is well past.


Yes, it is not just the “crazies” that singles need to be concerned with. The reason I started my company was because I met a “snowbird” through a social club in the Phoenix area - the club required members to be recommended by at least two members that had known the applicant for at least three months. This gentleman had spent a few seasons here and had even stayed vacant homes of Realtor members. After our first date I thought I would do a little research on the internet to get more information about his interests for conversation purposes. Imagine my surprise when up popped his criminal history (big time embezzlement) from a mid-western state. He had done nothing to alert my radar, in fact he was quite good looking, charming and a good dancer -- highly prized characteristics in a potential date.

There are also ladies who are less than stellar. For example, “Check Out a Date” donated a background check to a blended family website (think Brady Bunch) the husband for whatever reason asked to have his new wife checked out. It turned out that she had a record for writing bad checks. Recently, a mother I met said that she wished she had known of my business prior to her son’s recent marriage. Shortly after the marriage the new bride racked up over $50,000 in credit card charges and took off, they can’t find her to serve divorce papers.

Dating moms need to be cautious as to the men they are bringing into their children’s lives – sexual predators find single mom’s a good resource for access to children.


With so many choices for identity verification and background checks on the market today, what makes your approach different or more effective?

There are companies that do background check, but only a few that are specific to singles. As a dating single myself, I take a personal hands on approach to insure the identity and integrity of the person I am doing the background check for. Some companies advertise that they offer “free” background checks then forward you to some other site – they are portals and often get paid just for sending your business to a third party. There is a new app (application) for iPhones & Palm Pre called “Date Check” that is being promoted as providing an instant FREE (which the app is) background checks but the background check is not free and is actually done by a division of Intelius. When orders are placed on my site either I or one of my employees does the research - we are of the Nordstrom (personalized service) of the background check industry. Your inquiries and financial information are secure and not shared with anyone. My company also provides dating safety tips and recommended links to other sites related to dating on my website and blog.


Besides background screening, what key safety tips would you provide men and also to women -- should the safety tips differ much by gender?

No, I don’t think the dating safety tips are much different between women and men.  The majority of people we meet are great people, but a few spoil it for the rest.

Dating tips:

  • Create an email address for use in online dating that doesn’t have your full name.

  • Create some business/calling cards with your cell number and online email address on it. Home numbers can be back traced to find out your home address. Or you can “opt out” to have your address NOT listed in search engines like MSN, Google, etc.
  • Meet your dates in public places for the first few dates. Tell a friend or relative when you are going out on a blind or first date. Ladies, DO NOT let dates pick you up at your house until you have confirmed their identity and marital status. Would you let a door-to-door salesman in after dark? Why let a date you don’t know? No gentleman is going to object, and if they do, you don’t want them!
  • Do not leave financial info like checkbooks, pay stubs, etc. lying around – identity thieves love them!

Dating red flags:

  • Are you getting strange vibes about the person? Trust your instinct!
  • Do they answer your questions? Do they change the subject or ignore them?
  • Do they tell stories differently each time?
  • Do they give you their home phone number or only a cell, business number or just email address?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Do they have children? Do they see them often?
  • Are they current in their child support?
  • Do they have a criminal record? Are they a child molester? Have DUI’s ?
  • Do they always seem short of money and ask to borrow money (just for a little while)? Ask you to co-sign? Have they filed bankruptcy?


Online dating safety and security are issues that will never go away. Searching for love involves a large degree of vulnerability. Knowing that upfront allows you to prepare adequate safeguards for your safety and your family’s well-being.  Background checks are one tool that can help you screen out prospects. Choosing a provider should be done in a careful and thoughtful manner. I’ll be writing more about this important topic in future installments.

In the mean time, please email me with any personal experiences you’ve had with background check companies, and the results that they provided. And remember, in matters of the heart use your head!


Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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