So, you're in a relationship. Congratulations! It is always fun and exciting to date someone new.
But before you jump into it head over heels, ask yourself:
- "How much do you know about your date?"
- "Is what he (or she) tells you about himself (herself) really true?"
- Or, "maybe there's something that they didn't tell you?"
I know, we don't want to think about such mundane things when we are in love. It feels like all that suspicion-nonsense is for somebody else, and not you. Right?
But, I'm glad that you're still reading ... Because this means that there's a little bit of sense that is still present in you in despite of all those endorphins that being in love pumped you up with. Good! You're on the right track. (Because I wasn't as smart as you are now.)
Since I have your attention, ask yourself:
- "Would I rent my house to someone long-term without first running a background check on them?"
- Or, as an employer, "Would I hire someone without knowing their previous employment history?"
The answer is no. Right?
If so, then why would you jump into a serious relationship with someone and let them into your life and heart without checking them first? Do you know how many scammers are out there waiting to prey on lonely people seeking love?
In this blog post I will collect all the methods that I know how you can verify your partner in the relationship. You will be the judge and need to decide how far you would want to go with this. I will start from the simple things at the top and will go to more involved ones at the bottom.
Before we begin, I want to preface it by saying that I will be using the word they to refer to your partner, as I really hate writing he/she, or refer just to one gender instead, since obviously this verification applies to both men and women.
What Info You Will Need From Your Partner
First, let's see what information you will need from your partner to do the search. You don't need all of it, but the more you get the more precise your search will be.
Note that being open about performing such a search with your partner will be the best way to go. I would probably go even further and suggest it to them first, while volunteering my own information, and then ask them for theirs. You can explain it by wanting to be safe, or just by letting them read this blog post.
If you prefer not to reveal that you're doing this search, in my book, this is still OK, as long as you stick with the items in the list below. Don't do anything illegal, that I will list at the end! This may put you into a serious trouble.
And lastly, if your partner refuses to provide their information, or dislikes doing such a search for whatever reason, this may be a red flag. So don't gloss it over, or be complacent. You will have to do the search but on your own time.
Ideally, here's what you will need from your partner:
- Full name: You can usually get it from their ID, or from any legal documents.
In case of a foreign national obtain your partner's name spelled out in their native language. You can get it via a text message by asking them to see their name written in their own alphabet. If done unobtrusively, this can be taken as a playful joke.
- Previous name(-es): Any name that they used before. This could be their maiden name, or if they changed their name after they immigrated from another country.
This may be more difficult to obtain. But you can usually get it from a previous conversation with your partner. Just make sure to remember or write it down when they tell you.
- Exact birthdate: The month and day are easy to find out. You will have to calculate the year using their age. (Keep in mind that some people may try to hide their true age. So verify it from an official document.)
- Nicknames: Their nicknames used in childhood. You can get these from your conversation with them. Or from their old social media posts. Make sure to spell it right though. That will be important for your search.
- Online Avatars: Their nicknames used for online accounts. The same as above. These may be very handy.
- Email address(es): You will get their email address if they send you a message. Also try to get their work email or any other addresses that
they may be using.
Keep in mind that some people may have more than one email address.
- Phone number(s): You will have this if you're dating. Also try to get their work, or any other phone number that they may have used in the past, or are using now. For instance, their business phone.
- Physical & mailing address(-es): current and previous address(-es) will have paramount importance for the search. You can try to get the old address from their correspondence, or by remembering it before they moved in with you. Also any old paperwork can give you that, which is even more valuable as it will provide correct spelling for you.
- SSN: For U.S. residents, you will need their social security number. This one is harder to obtain and usually requires you seeing some official document for the person. If you can't get it, don't push it. You can still do a lot of searches without it at an early stage.
One sure way to obtain most of the information that I listed above is by doing some traveling arrangements with your partner. For instance, if you invite them to a trip, you may ask for all that information from them to book a flight, or a hotel room. For most people that will be a normal explanation why you need that info.
Otherwise you have to be upfront with your partner, like I suggested above.
In today's day and age of online dating it is very common to be with a partner from a different country. This unfortunately complicates your search, especially if they are still in that foreign country when you are attempting to advance your relationship with them.
I don't need to say that the country of origin of your partner may dictate the risk involved for you!
So be very careful and ideally you would not step into any serious relationship with them right away. I would wait for at least a year or so before going to the next stage.
The steps involved in the verification in this case are somewhat limited, as some countries may not provide services that I listed below, or may not even have means to collect such data on their citizens.
In any case, do a Google search for similar identity verification services in the country of your partner's origin
and then see if you can pay them remotely to do the search for you. This may be also fraught with danger of paying to the scammers that run those services.
So be very careful and verify the service itself before contacting them. One way to do it online is by searching
service-name fraud or
and by checking the results. If you see a lot of complaints about the service, you should probably stay away from it.
Now the list itself. You can do these in any order. But I will try to present them from the simplest to more accurate methods:
Use Search Engines
Use your favorite search engine to search using all the information that you obtained from your partner. You obviously have to go one-thing-at-a-time. It will help if your partner has a somewhat distinctive spelling of their name, nickname, or of their address.
Follow these basic rules of thumb:
- Search in as many variations as possible. For instance, if your partner's name is Benjamin Cooper Metzgher, first search
by their full name, as
Benjamin Cooper Metzgher. Record all the hits. Then put their name in double-quotes, as
"Benjamin Cooper Metzgher".
You would use double-quotes to instruct the search engine to provide the exact match of the phrase between them.
Then, in this case, because of the unusual spelling of their last name, search by
- Save all the links that you found in a folder, or in some text document so that you could refer to them later. Document everything.
Also consider making screenshots of pages you found, as things change on the internet from time to time, and the next time you pull up some page it may look different.
- Search with more than just one search engine. For instance, don't just stick with Google, also do the same search with Bing, Duck-Duck-Go, etc.
- If you partner is from a foreign country, it is important to also use a search engine from that country as well. Example: Yandex for Russia.
- When you get search results, make sure to go through several pages of the search results as some relevant website may not be shown on the first search page.
- After having done the search by your partner's name, also try to append words, such as
arrestat the end.
Benjamin Cooper Metzgher "case number"and then
Benjamin Cooper Metzgher affidavit, and
Benjamin Cooper Metzgher arrest. This will let you quickly see if there are public records of your partner's criminal history. Read more about it below.
- When searching by the phone number, make sure to search for it with and without the prefix, as well as with the international country code.
For instance, you may search for:
555-1234, then for
909-555-1234, and then for
+1-909-555-1234. Additionally, search without dashes or spaces, as in:
Keep in mind that searching by a phone number will produce a slew of advertisement and scam websites trying to upsell you for the reverse-phone lookup service. Do not pay them! Or at least until you exhaust any other methods that I'm offering here. In most cases those businesses simply scrape public information and make you pay for it.
- When searching for an email address, first use the full thing, as in
email@example.com then also just by the part before the
@symbol. In this case by
- It is very important to search not only by the current address, but also by any previous known addresses your partner lived at.
- When searching by address, you will get a lot of hits from fake services that offer you to provide info for money. Don't use them yet.
First search by the address as you have it. Example:
1234 Maple St., City, STATE, 12345. Then just by the street name itself:
1234 Maple St.. You may be lucky if the street name has a somewhat unusual spelling. It will help in isolating the false positives.
- If you find some match at an address other than the one you expected, or even in a foreign country, make sure to pay close attention to it and investigate it further.
- If one of the search results leads to a social media site, or any other site that requires login, first see if the
search engine's cached version is available.
Sometimes that may be enough to provide you with the needed information.
If not, you will have to create an account at that service. Don't use your existing account though, or your real name if you don't want your partner to find out that you went there, as some services may record who visited their page.
- Use the Wayback Machine on the URLs that you found about your partner
to see if the page looked different before.
For that copy and paste the URL of the page into the Wayback Machine's search bar and then check all the previous dates that it had information for.
The past details recorded by the Wayback Machine may provide you with invaluable information.
- Glean and write down any additional clues from every page you find. But make sure to verify that the page indeed refers to your partner. This can be easily done by a picture on the page, or by some other reference that you know belongs to or leads to your partner. Look for additional nicknames, addresses, etc. Use that information for your further search.
Search Social Media
Usually social media sites have their own search. But you will need to create an account to use it.
Keep in mind that some social media sites may record who visited your partner's page. So if it matters, don't use your own account and create a burner one. You can do so in another web browser, using a different email address. For instance, if you're using Chrome, download and install Firefox, or Microsoft Edge, and use it to create a new account on a social media site. This way it will not cross with your existing account.
Do similar search by your partner's information as I showed above. Pay special attention to the nicknames or other names that your partner used earlier in their life.
I would check the following social media sites:
- Facebook - used by most people around the world and has a host of information that may be useful to you.
- Instagram - used primarily by younger people. The site is based around hosting images, so it will be easy to identify your partner.
- Twitter - used primarily by men or someone with technical or engineering background.
- LinkedIn - used by career professionals. This site may be important to verify your partner's previous (and current) employment.
Get Their Friends' Contacts
This is not really a search. But when you start seeing someone, make sure to get some contact information from your partner's close friends, and try to keep in touch with them in a friendly manner. This may sound suspicious for your partner if they find out. So either don't openly proclaim your occasional exchange of friendly messages with their friends, or explain it by just trying to be closer to your partner that way.
Make sure to maintain such contact throughout the course of your relationship. This may be a valuable source of information about your partner. But don't be extra suspicious or nosy either. Don't lead it to a point when one of your partner's friends tells them about your messages, or starts ignoring you. This will also be bad.
Lastly, why do you need to maintain connection with your partner's friends?
I'll give you my actual example. When I thought that I was in a serious relationship with a girl, she suddenly broke up with me which left me puzzled. The real reason was that she started cheating on me 3 months prior to that, which lead to obvious deterioration of our relationship. Had I kept in contact with one of her friends, she would've let me know about it. But I only found out about it when it was already too late after having spoken to her friend by accident. She told me then that 3 months prior, my ex-girlfriend started seeing another guy and she assumed that we broke up. As you can see, if I kept in contact with her friend it would have been pretty easy to find out early in the game.
Note that your partner's resistance to provide any contact information for their close friends may be a red flag on its own.
Why? They may be hiding that information in case they are trying to use your relationship for their benefit, be it money, or just sex on the side in case of an extramarital affair. So be very careful if you encounter some unexplained resistance.
Search Sex Offender Public Records
This one should not be overlooked. It is obviously very important and could be a big deal breaker. Unfortunately though, there's not that many centralized resources that provide this service. They are also country-specific.
I live in the U.S. so I will give you one online service that I use that works really well for my area:
- Criminal Watch Dog - and "Sex Offenders in My Area" page specifically.
At the time of this writing the search for sex offenders is free. You will need to specify the city and a radius of search to generate immediate results. Unfortunately the list itself can be quite unwieldy to navigate. But don't get discouraged. Go through all of it, line by line. In my case, the search also provided images of registered sex offenders, which was very helpful if you were looking for a confirmation of a specific person.
I also can't stress enough that it is very important to perform this search not only in the current area that your partner lives, but also in any other locations that they are known to have resided or moved from.
Also don't just assume that only men can be sex offenders.
Search For Criminal History
This search is one of the most important ones if you plan to advance in your relationship. Say, to move in with your partner, or, let alone, to marry them. Going to this new level in your relationship will expose you even more had there been a problem, which will now include your bank account and your financial standing.
Unfortunately such search is country-specific. So I will give you the details for United States only. In U.S. there's no single website that can provide free criminal record search, even though such information is public in many places. So you will have to search for a government website for a specific county.
First locate the county by the city and state of your partner's current and past residence.
You can actually do it using Google Maps,
by searching for
<city> <state> county from their address, as in:
Chantilly Virginia county.
Then using the county name do your search for any of the following:
Use the following template:
<county> <search word>. Example:
Fairfax County clerk's office, etc.
- County clerk's office.
- County level municipal court index.
- Sheriff's booking.
- Inmate information.
- State department of rehabilitation and correction.
Then when you pull up the government website for a specific county, it should let you conduct a free search for the public court cases using your partner's name. Obviously use variations of their names that you could find earlier.
Note that if you fail to find a decent search option on some specific county website, in most cases you can obtain the same information from a local courthouse by physically going there and by requesting it in person.
Any court records with your partner's name in them should be studied more closely. Make sure to check if the person was convicted or pleaded guilty. Otherwise, if they were acquitted in the court of law, such should not be held against them!
Search For Public Marriage Licenses
It would be kinda important to know about your partner's previous and maybe even current marriages, wouldn't it?
So just like the search for the criminal history, there's no single (free) website that can do it for you. It is also country-specific and may depend on the laws of that country as well. For instance, in United States such information is public and free. In other countries it may be different. So for this example I will stick with United States as well.
The search for the public marriage licenses can be conducted using a website of the county where such license was issued. So the first step is to determine the county by the address of your partner.
Again, it is very important to do this search not only by your partner's current, but also using their previous addresses.
Having the name of the county, search using regular google page for
public marriage certificate <county> <state>,
public marriage certificate Fairfax County Virginia.
Note that unfortunately each county's website will be different. So you will have to navigate through it yourself to find their search option. Then you should be able to do the search using the name(-es) of your partner. Make sure to do it also using their previous names that you can find.
Lastly, if you didn't succeed in finding a decent search online, you may have a much better luck by going to the county courthouse in person and by requesting such information. Make sure to call them first to ask for hours of operation and for directions how to find them.
Search Via Paid Services
One alternative is to pay a little bit of money via an online search. But this part is very tricky, and especially finding the right service for that can be daunting.
Be very careful. The first several results on the search engines, if you look for "public records search", would be either advertisers or scammers that have manipulated search engine listings to be on top of the rankings. A good example of the service not to use is Instant Check Mate, at instantcheckmate.com. That is a definite upsell probably designed to collect your email or other private info. Stay away from services like that!
These services are also country-specific. The ones I will give below are U.S.-centric.
At the moment of this writing, I would give a try to the following services, if anything else that I showed above did not provide any meaningful results:
- White Pages - The price for this service shouldn't exceed $30 USD for the information about a person in U.S.
Otherwise don't waste money on the paid online search services.
Do The Background Check
This should definitely be a paid service. So do not use anything online that purports to do it for free.
Ideally a background search should be conducted on your partner for the following:
- National Criminal Report
- Financial Credit Record
- Tenant Eviction Report
- National Sex Offender
- Terrorist Watch List
You may use any of the major credit reporting agencies for that, or alternatively you may employ some service that allows individual landlords to screen their potential tenants.
This screening service may be also referred to as a "skip tracing" in a more criminal sense.
I would check any of the following services:
- TransUnions's "SmartMove" service.
- Experian's online "Tenant Screening Services".
- "Resident and Tenant Screening" from Equifax.
- "Criminal Watch Dog" does multiple paid verifications and checks.
- "Nationwide Tenant Screening Services for Landlords & Property Managers" does several screening types using all major credit bureaus combined.
- "Tenant Screening & Background Checks" from Apartments.com.
- "Rent Perfect" service from an Investigative Screening Company.
Disclosure: I am not affiliated with any of the aforementioned services.
Note that conducting a background check on your partner may be indicated in their credit report, had they obtained it on themselves.
Hire Private Investigator
Hiring a licensed private investigator is something that you should resort to only in the most extraordinary circumstances. I have never done that myself, so I can't really suggest anything about it. I would assume though that it will be quite expensive to begin with.
You would do a search for the
licensed private investigator <city>, where
is the city where you live in. Then contact them and go from there.
Things Not To Do!
Lastly, having given you legal means of screening your partner, let me emphasize some illegal ways that you should never resort to!
WARNING: Resorting to any of the things listed below can land you in jail or cause some serious trouble!
DO NOT DO IT!
In no particular order. Things how NOT TO check on your partner:
- DO NOT: Install or use remote access trojan software, keyloggers or any other malware on their devices.
- DO NOT: Try to break into their devices or online accounts.
- DO NOT: Try to break into their devices by surreptitiously using their fingerprint reader or FaceID lock. (Say, when they are asleep, or through some other disguise.)
Alternatively, if you suspect some foul play, or just want to be proactive, make sure not to rely on fingerprint scanners and face ID to unlock your device. Always use difficult to guess lock screen PINs and passwords.
- DO NOT: Trick your partner or their friends into revealing some private information about then. It is always better to be upfront with them!
Having shared this list of verifications and checks with you, let me finish it by saying that my hope is that you will use it only to find nothing, that will assure you that you've made the right choice in your partner. Congratulations! Having such knowledge can be the most rewarding feeling ever.
Also, if you find that I missed something or if you want to add your own method, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below, or you can contact me privately.
Thanks for reading, and let's be honest with each other & safe!