Major dating apps, like Tinder, Match, OKCupid, will soon let people run a background check on a potential date.

Match, one of the largest online dating services in the world serving over 50 countries, announced their partnership with Garbo, a nonprofit, that looks to allow people to run background checks with only a first name and phone number or full name. In today’s age, online dating is the place to find a partner for many people. Some of us may have dabbled in it, but there’s no doubt that it has changed the way we meet people. People with a criminal record will have a more difficult time navigating the online dating world with this new feature.

Finding a romantic relationship might be tough in today’s world, but if you have a criminal record, will these changes be for the better?

How will others feel about my criminal record?

Criminal histories are sometimes a cause of shame, and it may be incredibly difficult to determine the appropriate time to disclose them with someone you are thinking of dating. Because criminal convictions are incredibly personal, you may not want to disclose them to someone with whom you have no future, but they can also become increasingly difficult to address as the relationship evolves. Fear of rejection upon disclosure of your criminal past may prevent you from addressing it, and if your partner learns later, it may cause distrust. Regardless of how long ago the offence occurred, some folks will never consider dating someone who has a criminal history.

Tinder and other dating apps want to address the problem, offering its users a solution to feel safer. It will soon be possible to check whether another member of the dating application has a criminal record for violence. To implement this feature, Match, the group that owns the dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, Hinge, Pairs, Meetic and OurTime, has partnered with Garbo, a non-profit organization that allows you to get this information simply through a name and phone number. Lyft, Uber, Airbnb and other apps used to connect people in real life have similarly added safety features in recent years, often after significant criticism.


The pros and cons of criminal background checks in dating apps

The dating app wants to secure future meetings and let you know if a user has a criminal record. Tinder will allow, at first in the United States, its users to really know who they have in front of them. Between the scams of the heart or financial, many had complained of a certain lack of transparency. In other words, its users will be able to know whether or not those with whom they speak have a criminal record. It is probable that this option will be featured in Canada fairly soon dependent upon the success of the rollout in the US in the coming months. Founded by women, the non-profit organization is responsible for collecting public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, injunctions, harassment or violent crimes. It then creates reports and distills this information only using a phone number or a name. Garbo, on the other hand, does not deal with all crimes related to drug cases, for example.

The Garbo team has yet to decide how far back in time background checks will search, a source of concern for advocates that argue that using criminal history against people who have served their time is another form of “lifelong punishment”.

The technological landscape is full of good intentions that can have serious and lasting negative consequences. Violence between intimate partners affects large swathes of society – and the world of online dating is no exception. As part of this contribution, Match Group will integrate Garbo’s services directly into the Tinder platform. Users will be able to choose whether they want to pay a fee (currently undisclosed)  directly to Garbo to verify a potential meeting.

How will online dating be different for someone with a criminal record?

The non-profit organization’s goal is to reduce gender-based violence by providing low-cost access to “public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment and other violent crimes.” In order to address issues of inequality in the justice system, Garbo will not include drug convictions and roadside checks, which are known to disproportionately affect marginalized groups.

This means Tinder users will be able to vet their dates with details like their arrest record or history of violence. That could dramatically affect who finds success on the app and who doesn’t. Garbo says it collects “public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment, and other violent crimes,” and its website says it accepts manually submitted “police report(s), order(s) of protection / restraining orders, and other legal documents that report abuse, harassment, or other crimes.”

Even with a background check option being available, it is still important to tell a new partner about your criminal record and it could potentially be one of the most important discussions you’ll have. You may be wishing that you’d had the conversation sooner or concerned that telling them will put an end to the relationship. Despite these worries, not telling them means that you’ll always be looking over your shoulder waiting for the day when your past comes to light. Giving some thought and preparation about how you tell them will hopefully make you feel more confident in dealing with the questions your partner might have.

Jason Hernandez got out of prison in 2015 and started making up for lost time. He’d done nearly 18 years on federal drug conspiracy charges, and only escaped life behind bars because then-President Barack Obama granted him clemency. He settled down near Dallas, began volunteering in schools, visited the White House and wrote a book. Then he decided to start dating, so he downloaded Tinder. He was open about his past, and at first, it was fine. But a couple months ago, he got a notification that he was banned. Though Hernandez, the former prisoner, can’t prove that he got booted because of his felony, he says it was the only way his account violated the terms of service. “How can you hold something against me that I did in 1993?”
By Keri Blakinger, The Marshall Project

Where can I get a criminal background check in Canada?

It is clear that dating is not the same anymore. When people with criminal records, including ex-convicts, have completed their sentence or ar released from prison, they are not provided much support. They begin searching for employment, housing, educational opportunities, etc. When they start settling into their new life and develop a support system, they begin going on dates with people they meet on online dating apps like Tinder.

The process is not without challenges; revealing that you have a criminal record is not an easy topic to bring up in a conversation.

Do you know what will show on your criminal record and or know how you can obtain one? Click here to find more information.


You have a criminal record and you need to be cleared to start enjoying your dating life? You may need to apply for a record suspension. You’ll feel relieved that the past is behind you and you’ll be able to move forward in your dating life. If you were found not guilty or if the charges were withdrawn, stayed or dismissed, there is a police record of your arrest, a court record of your trial, and a record held with the RCMP. A number of federal and provincial law enforcement agencies have access to criminal records through the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and so can the online dating platforms. A Record Suspension can seal and limit accessibility to your criminal record.


Contact an AllCleared advisor today to clear your record at 1-866-972-7366 or click here to determine your eligibility.