This is a guest opinion article by Jo Lynn Clemens, CPCU, ARM.
Following a rash of crimes linked to members of online dating sites (including the latest heinous dismemberment of a Seattle nurse and mother of three), it becomes increasingly crucial that dating sites & apps find ways to proactively protect their users, and in turn, the reputation of the industry. The person accused of the above mentioned crime in Seattle was found to have previously been convicted for assault in Washington in 1997 and battery in Idaho in 2009. Some sites, like Match.com, have already felt the burn – paying out a $10m settlement to a victim who was brutally stabbed and beaten. As consumers continue to seek out large pockets to compensate victims, online dating sites become the likely targets.
Currently, there are nine states that have enacted Internet Safety Laws (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Virginia) which require online dating sites to follow prescribed compliance measures to avoid penalties for violation of unfair trade or deceptive practices. Given concerns by regulatory officials, it is likely that Internet Safety Laws will not only be passed in other states, but also become more stringent.
While some online sites have adopted a less active approach by simply notifying its users that they do not conduct background checks and placing the responsibility on consumers to conduct their own due diligence, it is unlikely that any case that finds its way to a jury will deem such sites as acting responsibly. A single court case can have a lasting impact on both the reputation and financial positioning of any company.
A better approach is to quell consumer fears and grow your membership base through the positive public relations garnered by proactively checking all users. The standards to be followed should be those set by the most stringent jurisdictions which currently require: 1. Rapid abuse reporting, 2. Reviewing of profiles for fakes, 3. Identification of sexual predators through registries and removing them, 4. Listing prescribed internet safety tips which differ by state and, 5. Reminding users of their responsibility for their own safety.
Such requirements are both cumbersome and labour intensive, and can require monumental costs from both the technology and human capital required to review background reports and remove those users who pose a risk to online daters. To manage the risk, reduce associated costs and improve public perception surrounding online dating safety – it is beneficial to hire a third party vendor with the resources in place to ensure compliance.
XOXY.com (a privacy-protected site that also affords a HIPAA compliant STD verification service for online dating sites) removes the burden of reviewing criminal record reports through its patent pending process that includes affording a six-month renewable credential confirming a user’s identity and absence of felony convictions and misdemeanor (or felony) sex offenses. Designed by a veteran Risk and Compliance Executive familiar with managing litigation, HIPAA and cyber liability, XOXY has been invited to the International Summit to End Sexual Violence, considered a “social game changer” by Catalyst Creativ and has been featured on numerous television stations such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and others.
XOXY.com increases accuracy beyond that provided by in-home STD testing companies through the use of qualified physicians and our trusted lab partner, Quest Diagnostics. XOXY affords one stop solutions for dating sites (and their members) which go a long way towards improving public perception, mitigating risks when crimes occur, and attracting additional users from the sixty million single Americans who currently prefer to date online.
XOXY was created as a tool to mitigate risks in dating and to afford compliance solutions for our dating industry partners. Our solutions help clients to differentiate their product, comply with regulations and afford membership levels to further monetize, attract and retain customers.
By Jo Lynn Clemens
Jo Lynn Clemens, CPCU, ARM has over twenty years experience managing risk for large corporations and is the President of JJC Insurance Services, providing risk management consulting, industry training, compliance and operational audits for Lloyds of London. She has served as Regional Chair for Claims Litigation Management and as both Director of Legislation and Research and Delegate Ambassador to China for the Society of CPCU.