You don't need a private investigator or mutual friends to do a background check on a date. Being your own sleuth is all about knowing where to look—and what you're looking for.
Step 1: Find out date's names Find out all you can about your date's name—get any former married names, maiden name, nicknames, and middle names.
Step 2: Google names Conduct Google searches on all variations of your date's name—first name with full middle and last name, first name with middle initial and last name, et cetera.
TIP: Run a search using last name first, first name last, in quotes.
Step 3: Google email & phone number Run Google searches of the person's email address and phone number.
Step 4: Check Google images Check Google images for pictures of the person.
Step 5: Search social networking sites See if your date has a page on MySpace, Facebook, or other social networking sites.
TIP: Make sure web pages you find refer to your date, not someone with the same name.
Step 6: Do background search Do a background search by logging on to www.backgroundcheckgateway.com, which helps people conduct free investigations.
Step 7: Check dating sites Check Match.com and other popular dating sites for profiles of the person.
TIP: If you know a lawyer, journalist, librarian, or other professional with access to LexisNexis, a powerful online database of published and legal documents, ask if they'll do a little digging on your behalf.
Step 8: Check sex offender registries Make sure your date is not a sexual predator by logging on to www.fbi.gov, which provides links to various states' online sex offender registries.
Step 9: Go on a date If you don't find anything alarming, appalling, offensive, or illegal, go out on that date—and draw your own conclusions.
FACT: Nine percent of applicants to the online dating service True.com are rejected when the site's routine background check discovers they are married and/or have a criminal record.