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Should I Trust My New Friend? How to Check Someone out Online



It can be hard to separate fact from fiction when someone new comes into your life. Can you take what they say at face value? Are they withholding something important?

Today, it’s never been easier to delve into someone’s past. The people we meet could be hiding all sorts of things: a past bankruptcy, an alias, or even a criminal record. You can find all of this and more online.

Not a Perfect World

The world isn’t perfect, and strangers can’t trust each other. Your new friend might not be who they say.

Two important reasons to check someone out online: to rule out the possibility that they have a secret life (ex. they’re married) and to verify they are who they say.

The first risk is more significant. Some people turn to online dating as a distraction or a way to pass the time. They don’t mention a significant other to the people they meet because they want that new connection, or they don’t believe it’s important. Then, some people will withhold information about past arrests, unpaid debt, or even something relatively unimportant, like a DUI.

Then, your new friend might be catfishing you. Some people create fake profiles to attract attention or trick others into sending money. This risk is lower but definitely worth ruling out by doing a quick online check.

How to do an Impromptu Background Check

A complete background screening can be expensive. It includes education, criminal, and employment history and might even include their financial history. For a simpler and faster way, starts with a simple google search. Use any information you have about them. Enter their first and last name in quote marks in the search bar and add details like their phone or email to see what shows up. Add search terms like ‘debt,’ ‘criminal record,’ ‘divorce,’ ‘university,’ etc.

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Use a People Finder

Tools like Stud or Dud and aggregate publicly available data. It includes public filings, legal records, and criminal records. You will need to register with some basic information. Then, you can run a fast and affordable check on anyone.

Public Records

Try a public records website if your people search isn’t yielding the desired results. This check will compile information from various sources into a report. You can narrow the results down by using their name, age, and location. You might find a hidden alias, an arrest record, or their real date of birth.

Social Networks

Your new friend has a LinkedIn profile, more likely than not. Start with this medium because people are least likely to lie on it. After all, this information is available to potential employers and clients. They can’t have lied about when they graduated, where from, and their date of birth.

The professional social network is an excellent platform for cross-referencing data. Even if they didn’t list a birthdate, you could roughly infer the year from starting college or work dates, confirm their location, and establish what they do for a living.

The next place to take your search is Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use their name, any location provided, and groups to look for profiles on Facebook. Search their last name and where they live if you know the city. Your search will probably retrieve their friends or family members, even if they’ve deactivated the search feature or used a different name or nickname on Facebook.

You can search the network using only a number or email. They’ll be easy to find if they used a real picture and also sent you one. To build a profile, look at the list of friends, how active they are, the timeline and the reactions to their posts, and the users that have reacted. Just don’t jump to conclusions.

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How to Find a Criminal Record

To check if they have a criminal past, google their county or state plus the term ‘criminal records.’ You’ll get a list of sites, some of which end in .gov. In the US, criminal records are usually public. You can check the databases for relevant entries.

Searching by a Picture

Run any images they’ve sent through Google images, pictures from their dating profile, or those on their email account if any. Some people aren’t very creative and try to pass off the first stock photo they find as one of them.

Developing Trust

What does it mean to trust someone? Trust is a sense of safety and loyalty. You feel secure with a person. You believe they won’t hurt you. Relationships are built on trust because it’s what allows you to open up to someone without having to protect yourself. Trust doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It has to be earned, and screening services can help.

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