We’ve all been there –so smitten by a potential new love, we throw caution to the wind in favor of a mad, passionate hookup. Only to wake up to a severe case of buyer’s remorse the following day. (Not to mention a pounding head or worse, a UPI a.k.a. unidentified party injury).
Things get trickier for the estimated 20 million people a month dating 2.0-style. While sites such as Match.com and eHarmony offer tips to protect yourself from possible creeps, each of these online matchmakers states up front that in order to protect user privacy, they don’t conduct background checks on members.
So what’s a tech-savvy, lonely heart to do? You could study up on OKCupid‘s profile photo exposé. You could Google the heck out of your prince/princess charming’s name or other personal details. Or you could take the latest apps and gadgets with you on your next date.
That cutie playing footsie with you at the bar and bragging about the size of his (ahem) billfold? He might have so many Benjamins because he’s bunking in mom’s basement. You’ll find out with Date Check, the smart phone app from Intelius.
How It Works: Intelius, the company you recognize if you’ve ever Googled any name and address, taps into its vast network of information to run background checks on the person of your choice. By entering a name, phone number, or email address, you will have instant access to some seriously personal information. Sleaze Detector will tell you about criminal records (and sex offenses!), $$$ offers net worth statistics, and Living Situation will tell you if your dream date is living alone or with parents or a spouse.
Cost: The app is free but “Look up before you hook up” prices vary from $19.95 for a criminal check, and $14.95 for a property and neighborhood report. Social networking profiles cost $9.95, and people search reports $1.95. Want it all, you’ve got it for $39.95.
Caveat: Don’t confuse this with the “dating” service of the same name. Datecheck.com is an escort service for gents looking for porn stars and other adult entertainers to use as arm candy.
Drinks spiked with Rohypnol (a “roofie”), Gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB), or Ketamine, all otherwise known as date-rape drugs, cause sedation and amnesia. It’s a growing concern for single women world-wide. So a British company took matters into their own hands and packaged a clever detection device in the ultimate accessory–a lip gloss.
How It Works: The lip gloss is packaged with two special testing cards. Put a drop of your drink on the two test cards using your finger or a swizzle stick. Rub gently then wait for it to dry. If either test circle changes to a darker blue color the drink is contaminated and should be reported. Also, you should seriously evaluate your choice in clubs and/or potential partners.
Cost: £9.99 ($15.60, you can order in the U.S. online)
Caveat: The test card doesn’t work with wine or milk (and you’re drinking milk on a date, because…) and it does not detect Rohypnol, only GHB or Ketamine.
Ever since Caller ID was introduced in the early 1990s, it has been possible to block a number by either by dialing *67 before placing a call, or asking the carrier to restrict the ID for all calls generated from a particular line. Now, there is a way to unmask the “unknown caller.”
How It Works: The company says it takes advantage of a loophole in Caller ID blocking in which calls to toll-free numbers are not blocked because those calls are paid for by the recipient. New customers simply reprogram their cellphones to send all rejected, missed, and unanswered calls to TrapCall’s own toll-free number. If Caller ID is blocked just press the button on the phone that would send the call to voicemail. The call invisibly loops through TelTech’s system, then back to the user’s phone, this time with the caller’s number displayed. The caller only hears a regular ring for a few seconds while the looping is completed. Works with any cell phone.
Cost: Free to try, then pay as you go for services that include unmasking, missed call alerts, and voicemail, which run up to $25 per month.
Caveat: TrapCall is made by the same company that brought you SpoofCard, the service that can disguise your Caller ID, masks your voice, or record your calls. So if your stalker is wise in the ways of tech, they may just be able to get through to you anyway.