The state of today’s society insists that every person be skeptical when meeting that new friend (or “friend”). Regardless of how nice the “friend” seems, how polite, how courteous he is, or she is, one must realize that this “friend” could be someone vastly different than the picture and profile the “friend” provides. It is indeed unfortunate, yet it is the reality. It adds another nightmare scenario to a parent’s life.
Checking another person’s background is greatly enhanced by the existence of the Internet. Most court districts around the country now have public court records online, searchable at no charge. However, very few courts collaborate with other local courts to build a single regional database of such records. So searching does take time. Arrests and convictions and jail or prison records are typically available. Experts recommend using a pattern for searching that begins with a general search of the person’s name in varying combinations. Some of the combinations that experienced people suggested were:  First name and last name,  add in a middle name,  add in a birth date,  maybe middle name and last name,  add in place where born, and so on. After a general search, search on major cities around where the person grew up, then move to smaller cities, then towns. Such an activity does take some time, but one’s own safety is worth the time and difficulty that this effort takes. The importance increases if the “friend” does not have local roots or has not been in the area for very long.
Caution is recommended by experts and experienced people. This is all about protecting one’s self in a situation with a relatively unknown person, a stranger. Doing such things as deleting searches from the search engine’s retention list and clearing one’s browser history after doing such searches is important, especially if the “friend” also uses the same PC or laptop.
A few people said that they had used their relationships with police officers to request such a background check. Others asked known friends who were private detectives, and some even paid for background checks, but that does not seem to be a reasonable way to go.
Using the Web will also get the person who is searching useful listings and various sites with worthwhile assistance as to how to search and where to go to get information. The more one knows about the person on whom one is searching the easier it will be to find any useful information.
A final caution many made was that even though no information was found using online searches, it does not necessarily mean that all is well. Trust a gut feeling. Be aware of surroundings and situations. Let a known friend know one’s plans for meeting the new “friend”. Have a circle of known friends who one can call or text to bail one out of an unwanted situation. A few even had their backup friend call at a certain time to provide the opportunity to get away if wanted.