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Dating sites Match.com, eHarmony and Spark Networks are ramping up their efforts to ensure online dating safety. The three companies have reached an agreement with the California attorney general's office, and will begin to check subscribers against public sex-offender registries.
The agreement appears to be the result of a few high-profile incidents. Last year, a woman sued Match.com after she was raped by a man she met on the site. The man had previously been convicted of sexual battery, yet was still allowed to subscribe.
In April, Joseph Raymond Garcia was convicted of raping three women he met on MillionaireMatch.com, according to the Los Angeles Times. He used a fake personal profile and grossly exaggerated his yearly income.
In addition to screening for sex offenders, the sites have also agreed to search for fake profiles, provide users with a quick way to report abuse, and post a list of online dating safety tips. They will also provide the California attorney general's office with reports of suspected criminal behavior, according to the Associated Press.
Though a step in the right direction, the agreement is unfortunately non-binding. There are no enforcement penalties, according to a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. This means the sites can renege at any time without much repercussion.
For this reason it is best not to rely on any dating site to screen your date, or to ensure that a user's profile is real. They can and will only do so much, which means it is ultimately up to you to follow the rules of online dating safety.