Measures being taken to make online dating safer

Last month three of the largest online dating websites – eHarmony,, and Spark Networks – along with California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued a Joint Statement of Key Principles of Online Dating Site Safety, in which they espoused the importance of background checks on dating website members in an effort to avoid making dating site members vulnerable to sexual predators. The statement also aims to protect online dating website members from identity theft and scams.

Last week the Illinois Senate passed legislation that would require online dating websites that offer services in Illinois to clearly disclose whether or not they conduct criminal background checks on all members. The bill also would make it so online dating sites must disclose whether they admit members who have criminal records, and use government databases, including criminal court records and sex offender registries.

If it passes, those who are found to be in violation of the law could be fined up to $50,000 per violation. The measure, just like the joint statement issued last month, is indicative of a trend in social networking and online dating – where people often get to know each other before they even meet face to face – to take more precautions to make sure members are kept safe.


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Theres more to a criminal background check than meets the eye

Did you know there are different levels to a criminal background check? If you’re using an inexpensive online service that advertises “criminal background checks that are fast and cheap,” chances are you’re getting results that are fast and cheap — and highly incomplete.

There are several levels to a criminal background check, and a reputable employment screening service will take the time and resources necessary for a thorough search on every level. At Verify Protect, our background screening services cover the following levels, depending on your criteria and unique needs:

  • County Criminal: A real-time search for felonies and misdemeanors for a particular county, going back at least seven years.
  • Statewide Criminal: A jane krakowski pokies statewide search of felonies and misdemeanors as reported by the counties. This may contain wants/warrants from other states as well, but is not available in all states.
  • Multi-State Criminal Database: An instant search of over 300 million criminal records from hundreds of sources in all 50 states as well as some international records. This also includes sex offender registries with over 3.5 million pictures.
  • Federal Criminal: A search for crimes prosecuted at the federal level, which can include cases of embezzlement, fraud, drug trafficking and other federal crimes. This covers all 84 U.S. District Courts in one search. (A single district search is also available.)


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Former Penn State coachs arrest makes child-centered organizations take closer look at their own employees

Last week’s news about child sexual abuse by a former Penn State University football coach made national headlines and stirred emotions everywhere about the seriousness of child abuse by those with whom we trust our children.

Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts stemming from sexual misconduct with eight male victims over the course of several years. Sandusky allegedly found the victims through his own foundation, The Second Mile, which he started to help underprivileged boys in Centre County, PA. While Sandusky has never been arrested or convicted of a crime, the sordid details of the investigation — and a possible cover-up by those who knew and worked with Sandusky at the university — has made sports teams, recreational leagues, foundations that serve children and countless other organizations and businesses take a closer look at how they handle background checks of coaches, volunteers, staff members and anyone else who comes into contact with the children under their care. It’s absolutely imperative for such organizations to check sex offender registries and search for the criminal records of any prospective employee, coach or volunteer.

Background checks for such businesses and nonprofits have largely been in place for some time now, but a case like Sandusky’s brings into sharp focus the diligence such organizations must have in the protection of the children they serve.

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California audit finds state-licensed foster homes failed to check workers and residents against sex offender registries

A California auditor has issued a report that found state-licensed foster homes and other child welfare facilities have been harboring sex offenders because regulators failed to check the state registry for such offenders, despite being advised to do so in 2008.

More than 1,000 addresses for foster homes run by the California Department of Social Services and three county agencies matched addresses found in the state’s sex offender registries, according to the audit. (The information was compiled after an audit of facilities in Alameda, Fresno and Sacramento counties.) About 600 of the addresses were listed as “high risk,” meaning that the sex offender at the address, if correct, “poses an immediate threat to a vulnerable person. Action on these address matches is of highest priority.”

When asked by a reporter about the circumstances that would allow such proximity between a sex offender and a child, the auditor said sex offenders typically are family members or someone else living at the foster home, and since the department of social services does a single background check on the individual applying for a license to run a facility, sex offenders often go unnoticed.

The sobering report is another example of how important it is to do a thorough background check on every adult living and working not just in a foster home but any facility, school or organization where children are cared for.

Follow on Twitter! Settles Lawsuit by Agreeing to Background Checks

Last week Internet dating site agreed to conduct background checks on its members in order to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who was raped by a man she met on the dating service website. The man had six previous convictions for sexual offenses. He pleaded “no contest” to a charge of sexual battery and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.

Before the lawsuit, was not conducting background checks on its members, despite the fact that another former member also had been convicted of raping his date. Instead included disclaimers on its website that advised members to meet in public places and take other safety precautions.

But because it is sending potential dates to other members, there will be more responsibility taken to lessen the risk of harm being done to a member by using background checks and sex offender registries to weed out those with criminal records.

The development signals a probable shift in the way other online dating services conduct business as well. Industry experts and lawyers expect other dating sites to follow suit with some kind of formal, across-the-board criminal background check.

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What Cant You Find Out?: Some Personal Information Is Protected by Law

Employers use a variety of means during a background check to find out more about a potential hire. Criminal records, sex offender registries, credit reports, driving records and motor vehicle registrations, Social Security numbers, past employers, and even fingerprints are sometimes used to dig into a person’s background for information pertinent to the job for which the person has applied.

There are, however, several things pertaining to the pre-employment screening that an employer is not allowed to do. According to the Small Business Administration, the following rules apply to pre-employment screening:

• Lie detector tests: Lie detector tests are unlawful in the pre-employment screening process, according to the Employee Polygraph Protection. Exceptions to this rule include armored car services and pharmaceutical businesses.

• School records: School records and transcripts are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and are to be kept confidential.

• Medical records: Employers can’t request a job applicant’s medical records, and some state laws protect the confidentiality of medical records. Employers are within their rights to ask about an applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job, but if the disabled person can do all tasks, then the disability must not factor into an employer’s decisions when hiring or promoting.

• Bankruptcies: Bankruptcies may show up on a candidate’s credit report, but the Federal Bankruptcy Act prohibits employers from discriminating against a potential hire or an employee due to a bankruptcy filing.

• Military records: The military may choose to disclose limited information without the candidate’s consent, including name, rank, salary, duty assignments or status, and awards. Consent is likely to be required for other types of information.

Hotel Crime Shows Importance of Background Checks for Employees

The case of a hotel worker in central Florida who recently was arrested and accused of raping a hotel guest underscores the importance of all employees working in the hospitality field to undergo criminal background checks. According to a report from an NBC affiliate in Orlando, an employee who lived and worked in the hotel used his master key to enter a female guest’s hotel room in the middle of the night and sexually assault her. The man had been in and out of state prison seven times for crimes ranging from burglary to battery.

The hotel owner hasn’t said whether a criminal background check was done on the employee, but the crime — and the fact that it was preventable — is a prime example of why it’s important for hotel workers to go through a pre-employment screening process. Owners of many smaller hotel chains and single hotels and motels skip this crucial step to save money. But trusting employees with access to guests’ rooms and personal property is a risky endeavor. Hotel owners should always check a prospective employee’s criminal record, and the applicant’s name should be checked against national and state sex offender registries.

Those with criminal histories should be given a second chance to make a life change, to hold a job and prove they are responsible and trustworthy. But checking someone’s criminal past can reveal patterns that make it easier for an employer to make an informed decision about a prospective hire’s potential to do well — or become a liability and a safety risk to those around him.

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Criminal Background Checks Come In All Scopes and Sizes

As more and more industries are trending toward the safeguard that comes with implementing background checks on its prospective employees, many human resources professionals are scrambling to research the different types of pre-employment screening services available out there and to understand which is called for.

For example, many still believe that there is only one type of criminal background check. This is simply not true. There are, in fact, several different types of searches for a job applicant’s criminal history, and each involves a slightly different scope, both in physical area involved in the search and in the length of time lapsed from a conviction or warrant.

A county criminal search is a real-time search for felonies and misdemeanors for a particular county. This search goes back a minimum of Viagra seven years.

A statewide criminal search is of felonies and misdemeanors as reported by all the counties in a particular state. This may contain wants and warrants from other states as well.

A multi-state criminal search includes over 300 million criminal records from hundreds of sources in all 50 states as well as some international records. It also includes sex offender registries with over 3.5 million pictures.

Finally, a federal criminal background check is a search for crimes prosecuted at the federal level. This can include cases of embezzlement, fraud, drug trafficking and other federal crimes.

It pays to know what kind of search your industry calls for, and whether you’ve found a reputable pre-employment screening service that can provide exactly what you need.

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Parents Shouldn’t Assume That Camp Counselors and Coaches are Background Checked

‘Tis the season for kids’ camps galore!  And while that’s a very good thing for both the youngsters and their parents, it’s critical for moms, dads and grandparents to make sure that all camp personnel are background checked.

It might surprise many parents and guardians to learn that background checking of camp counselors, coaches, etc., is not standard.  In fact, many camps background check no one from the top down.  There’s just a cursory interview, possible checking of references, and, voila, the camp employees are given carte blanche to have access to kids.

This isn’t meant to terrify parents or to keep children from ever going to camps, of course.  It’s just meant as a serious warning. 

Parents need to ask the following questions BEFORE allowing any camp to have access to their sons or daughters:

1.  Has your camp staff been background checked?  If so, by whom? 

2.  What is the criteria for camp staff to be accepted by the camp? 

3.  Do you check sex offender registries before hiring camp staff?

4.  How much access do camp staff have to be alone with any one camper?

5.  What background checking company do you use?

Again, this makes sense… and it also helps avoid a serious issue.  Though some moms and dads might feel awkward with these inquiries, they’ll be happy they asked.  And the kids will, too.

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  • Another Story Where Criminal Checks Could Have Made a Difference

    Places like nursing homes don’t regularly conduct checks into potential residents’ criminal records, as this story from Knoxville, TN shows.

    In a nutshell, the article tells of a nursing home being sued because a known sex offender was living at the senior home and in 2009 allegedly sexually abused one of the residents.  The alleged perpetrator of the crime was convicted of rape and incest 18 years ago, and although the nursing home staff knew of this resident’s questionable past, they said nothing to other residents.  Hence, the lawsuit from the victim’s family.

    In a published response from the nursing home, they noted:

    “With respect to residents, it has not been industry practice to conduct criminal background checks on the prospective seniors who are seeking residence or health services. Recently, however, there has been a trend to screen prospective residents against state sex offender registries if they are available. [We have] implemented this process. “

    While it’s wonderful that the nursing home is now conducting criminal checks on potential residents, it’s tragic that the reason had to be as a result of an avoidable (possible — as the case hasn’t yet been resolved) sexual assault.

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