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Background Checks on Strangers

By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50

Background check a must before dating a stranger. Private investigators are the most reliable sources of background checks

“The only sure protection against fraud by someone you are involved with is to look deep into their past BEFORE they look deep into your eyes,” says Rhoda Cook, a spokesperson for CUFF (Citizens United to Find Fugitives), a non-profit company that deals with sweetheart fraud.

When older singles venture out into the dating world, most potential mates they meet are strangers, about whom little or nothing is known. Before becoming romantically involved, singles need to protect themselves by learning as much about the stranger as possible.

Barbara, not her real name, shared her experience of getting involved with a stranger she knew nothing about.

Like many older singles, Barbara was lonely, bored and looking for love. “I sent out those signals,” she said. Barbara went to a dance and met a man who was an excellent swing and ballroom dancer. “He seemed so nice, polite, and was tall, good looking, younger than me, and wow!”

He told her he was from another state and staying in a motel while looking for an apartment to rent. Barbara said, “After a week of hot pursuit, he ended spending the night, then the next, which continued into the weekend. From what he said, I thought he was leaving on Monday when I went back to work.”

Much to Barbara’s surprise, when she came home from work that Monday, he had purchased groceries and cooked her dinner. “Before I knew it, he was living there,” Barbara said.

“After two months, we began arguing constantly. I did a little computer research, and what I found out astounded me. He had a rap sheet in another state.”

Barbara asked him to leave. “He insisted we could work things out, he loved me, he cried, and yes he was persuasive. Then, another four months of constant arguing. In February, I was able to get him out, but it’s been a nightmare since.”

Barbara has a restraining order against him. He has harassed her family, friends and her at her work. “Now he’s in Central Jail in Los Angeles on a skipped felony arrest warrant,” she said. She fears he will be released and come after her.

Barbara admits she was foolish, that loneliness clouded her thinking. No one would debate that. But the point of her story is: had she had a background check done on this man before allowing him to spend the night, this nightmarish experience could have been avoided.

What are the options for singles seeking background checks?

Cook feels private investigators are the most reliable sources of background information. She said, “Because there is no national database of criminal records, civil judgment cases, or sex offenders, the information must be ferreted out by a competent investigator who knows how to sense inconsistencies in the subject’s information.”

Vern McGarry, a private investigator, (, says, “Make two background inquires at a minimum in the counties the person has lived in for at least the past ten years. A criminal background check and then a civil background check. Unlike credit reports, criminal and civil records are public information and do not require waivers or permission from the subject in question to be run.” McGarry says the cost for both reports should be no more than $150

Mark Simon, Orange County, Calif., another private investigator,, says, “Databases available to private investigators allow us to gather information necessary for a complete and accurate investigation. This data was not available in the past at the affordable price in today’s market.” Simon’s company charges $75 for a basic check without a written report.

A search on Google reveals hundreds of services that conduct background checks. Which one to choose? A company called Consumer-Guide did a thorough study of services offered online and recommends the ones they feel most reliable on their website:

CUFF’s website,, provides a comprehensive search that includes criminal and civil case searches nationwide.

For older singles, the money spent in checking the background of a potential mate could be the wisest investment they ever make.

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