Monday, December 18, 2006

Background Checks Could Offer Protection When Dating Online

If you’ve ever struggled with whether to do a background check on the person you’ve met online, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are single, and you no longer need to leave your comfort zone to find a date. People are meeting in chat rooms, through online date matching services, and classified listings. Sending pictures through email seems like a great idea, until you’re the recipient of a picture of what your date wishes they look like, instead of what they really look like. You may also find that there are married people using the internet to find affairs without being seen around town, and keeping you unaware of their marital status.

Generally speaking, if you meet a person in a traditional dating scene such as a bar, club, bowling alley, or a dog park (yes, it happens), people can give us different feelings, right off-the-bat. The guy who walks up to a woman and feeds her a cheesy line has probably been doing it all night, and still no success. Some people may give you the warm-fuzzies, while others just plain give you the creeps. These are signs we can only see (or feel) in person. People can write anything online about themselves, and yet reading those words on the screen gives us a sense of having gotten to know a person through their words. The fact of the matter is, most people – even honest people – tend to hold back things that embarrass them. We candy-coat the truth, sweep secrets under the carpet, and stuff the closet with skeletons when we describe ourselves online.

With meeting people over the internet, we lose the ability to establish a first impression. Worse yet, our first face-to-face meeting could be tainted by information that was fed to us without facial expressions, body language, or even a “vibe” we get from people when we talk in person. This can distort a person’s view of who they are meeting, and our mind tries to match up everything we think we know about the person with the face we are seeing. We complain if our mother sets us up with a blind date, yet we have no qualms about setting ourselves up on them. Sometimes this unawareness sets us up for identity theft, among other potential dating dangers.

On the internet, we can hide behind a fa├žade that we create; perhaps making ourselves out to be the person we wish we were. The person on the other end of the chat is most likely doing the same thing, although they have the unique opportunity to become the person you want them to be. Sometimes we are trying so hard not judge people in a bad way, and we forget not to judge people in a good way either. Just look at how many people are getting their selves into a bad situation because they trusted someone, thinking they were a good person. We can’t automatically assume that someone is a “good person”, yet it’s a mistake almost all of us make. If you think that doing a background check on a potential dating partner is wrong, think again. When you meet a person online, just as when you meet them in person, they could be hiding anything.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Finding People with Common Names

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and search for someone from your past, but don’t know where to start? Let’s first start with how much you know about the person. Before you contact any search company, start out by making a list of all the information you know about the person. This means everything you know whether you think it will make a difference or not.

Let’s take a look at what type of information you might have, and how it can help you find who you are looking for. Start with their name, and write down all possible names or name combinations the person may have used. For example, a man named Richard Johnson could use quite a few variations of his name, such as Rick, Ricky, RJ, Rich, Richey, Dick, or even RJ. If you knew the parents, what did they call him? How about friends or co-workers? Sometimes people have a formal name they use for business and work, but a less formal nickname that their friends and family used. In that case, there would be several names you could use to find him. On the other hand, you’ll want to gather even more information if the name is quite common, such as the example we’ve chosen.

When searching for a common name, the name variations can be a big help, but knowing some other key pieces of information can bring you closer to success. Knowing where someone may have lived can help distinguish your person from another person who shares the same name. For instance, if you know that Richard Johnson lived in Utah from 1994 to 2000, but you find a Richard Johnson in New York who has lived there for the past 30 years, you know that’s not the same person, even though the names match. Even better if you have several addresses from the past, as many search results return 20 years of address history on the person you are searching for, and knowing a few addresses can give you better results on your first time searching.

Other resources that you could use for searching for a person from the past would be names of relatives. Brothers, sisters, parents, and even spouses can be a real added plus when searching for a person, especially if you are searching for a woman who may have married over the years, changing her name. Men usually keep the same name throughout their lives, making them much easier to find. Also, your search may be more successful if you know the person’s middle name, or their maiden name. If this is someone in your family, and you have their social security number, it is almost a surefire guarantee that you will get the most current information on the person. However, that is a piece of information few people have on the person they are looking for, so your best bet is the list of information you are making.

Be sure to list as many of the following pieces of information that you can: Birth date, or approximate birth, and birth place, city and state if possible. List any siblings and parents names, and birth dates if possible. Last known address, or any and all addresses that you are aware of, even if it’s just city and state, or just state. Places of employment or businesses owned. Spouses, approximate year married, maiden name for a woman, nicknames or other names used. Names of good friends who still may be in contact with the person, they may have current information. If you know of any tendencies the person had to lie about their age, this could also prove to be useful information. Once you have compiled all of the information that you can remember about the person, you are ready to start your search.

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