Lots of baby boomers are past their first serious relationship. Sometimes, well past. So these days, with so many dangers lurking out there, how does someone ensure that whoever they’re meeting is a good prospect. That’s what New York City authorJudith Glynn writes about in “Background Checks Made Easy For All.”

“Stranger, danger,” I warned my friend Sarah before she’d have a coffee date with a man she met online. We’d both taught our children that phrase. But now she was in her mid-fifties, divorced, financially secure, and a recent empty nester wanting a relationship.

Author Judith Glynn

Online dating gone tragically wrong had just jolted us when a woman named Elizabeth Lee-Herman, age 56, was shot dead on a Manhattan sidewalk last month despite a restraining order against her Match.com ex-boyfriend of six months. We’d never know if she personally had done an online background check on him. The process would have been easy, legal, cheap, anonymous, and instantaneous.

Although that kind of snoop is time consuming and suggestive of peeking in someone’s underwear drawer, I had done one myself on a charming seat-mate I met on an international flight. Influenced by the magic of travel and a fool’s heart, after we landed I traveled with him overseas for two weeks.

Then, back in the U.S., we continued as long-distance lovers, as I clicked through his professional and personal life, online real estate assets, even a family obituary with correct family names. Fortunately his background was authentic, although his alcoholism, witnessed first-hand, finished us off.

But still, he intrigued me, enough to follow his demise as a pill mill physician, which led me to his state’s Department of Corrections online records and a prison layout where I imagined him there. His solemn mug shot produced a late-night chuckle.

Anyway, Sarah was curious. How could she become an amateur detective if she developed doubts about her online date and they persisted after the first meeting?

Spokeo was a simple and free first stop that includes a person’s age, probable family members, and locations where people with the same name live.

Intelius searches 30 billion public records and has an app.

Instant Checkmate costs an initial $39 for a one-month, background-search membership, $20 more for a deeper probe. Information includes addresses and neighbors; relatives; traffic, criminal, and employment records; social media accounts; phone numbers; DUI records, gun permits, and more.

Home addresses could lead to free searches of property deeds and real estate transactions in those counties. Google Maps details street close-ups. Real estate sites Trulia and Zillow reveal photos (interior shots if ever listed for sale).

“You can also create a Google Alert for someone of interest and for yourself,” I told Sarah along with all the other tips. She’d get an email if the name or subject appeared online.

Sarah called later with an update after her face-to-face date. “He was in his 60s, good-looking and educated,” she reported. He said he was a professor. “But he’s not divorced, only separated from his second marriage and lives with a friend. He doesn’t work or want this wife to have access to his limited assets. And he thinks one kid is on drugs.”

He’d already sent her a sweet and complimentary email. Could they meet again? She graciously declined because her intuition already told her no. She’d save that background search for someone else.

And by the way, men need to know about this level of protection for red-flag women they meet.

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