Sorry Tinder Swindlers, dating apps are about to offer criminal background checks

trending 11/03/2022

Anyone who has dipped their toe in the pool of online dating apps knows the water can be a little murky, to say the least

Finding a match often means dodging catfish (and guys holding fish), knowing how to spot a heavily filtered profile pic and suffering headaches from all the eye-rolling those cheesy pick up lines cause. 

In all seriousness though, talking to and dating strangers you’ve met online can be a scary business, and apps like Tinder are looking for ways to ensure the safety of their users. 

Match Group Inc, which owns Tinder and Hinge as well as match.com and OKCupid, is set to offer the opportunity for people to run criminal background checks on their matches. 

To make this happen, the company has partnered with Garbo, a female-founded non-profit background check provider with a focus on preventing gender-based violence.

An update to the app will see a new background check integrated into Tinder’s safety centre, which allows two free searches before charging US$2.50 per search. Garbo typically only requires a first name and a phone number to get started, but info like age and even zodiac sign - obvi one of the first things we ask - can help narrow things down. 

The company currently only services the US, and scours public records of arrests, convictions, and sex offender registries. 

We know what you’re thinking - had this feature been around while ‘Tinder Swindler’ Simon Leviev was doing his whole “my enemies are after me, please send $30k” thing, his victims may have been able to see he had been arrested and served two years in jail for conning three women in 2015. Not to mention his 2019 arrest for using a fake passport, which resulted in a US$65,000 fine and more time spent behind bars. 

If users who run a background check find their match has a history of criminal violence, they are encouraged to report them to Tinder, which will remove them from the platform in line with its existing safety policies. 

Of course, this new feature isn’t a fail-safe. There are plenty of bad eggs out there that haven’t got a criminal record, but we won’t be saying no to anything that helps hunt out those red flags, so let’s get this going in Aotearoa too, m'kay Tinder?