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3 Online Dating Sites Agree To Screen For Predators

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Three online dating services have agreed to screen for sex offenders and take other measures to protect their members after a Southern California woman was assaulted on a date.

The joint agreement between Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and eHarmony, Match.com and Spark Networks, states that the companies will check subscribers against national sex offender registries and provide a rapid abuse reporting system for members.

The screening system, which has already gone into effect, ensures that any member who is identified as a registered sex offender will be prohibited from using the services, Harris said.

The websites will also continue to warn members about safe online dating practices and will supply members with online safety tips, including fraud prevention guidance and tips for safely meeting people offline.

“I commend these companies for committing to these important consumer protections,” Harris said. “Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted. It is a priority for this office to ensure consumers are protected online, and companies who are creating in the Internet space have a continued opportunity to innovate and thrive.”

The websites will continue their efforts to screen members for safety threats, whether financial or physical, using a number of protective tools, including looking for fake profiles and checking sex offender registries to prevent registered sex offenders from using their fee-based services, according to the AG’s office.

Last August, a woman who was sexually assaulted by a man she met on Match.com settled a lawsuit against the Internet dating service, which agreed to screen members against state and federal sex offender registries.

Carole Markin was assaulted by Alan Paul Wurtzel, who pleaded no contest to sexual assault and had prior convictions. Wurtzel was sentenced last September to a year in jail.

Markin sued Match.com after she did an Internet search and found out that Wurtzel had been previously convicted on sexual assault charges.

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