(CBS) — Online dating is how couples are meeting now, but how can you be sure your online date is who they claim to be?
As many as 53 percent of users lie on their dating profiles.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: 90s Return Thursday
CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reports on spotting the red flags and seeking help from the dating detectives.
Thirty-six million Americans are looking for love online — all at their own risk.
Seriously. CBS 2 checked five dating sites, and all of them warn they do not conduct background checks or screen their members.
“If they look too good to be true, they probably are. Let your radar go off,” says Bela Gandhi, who owns the Chicago-based Smart Dating Academy.
Red flags, she says, include “peculiar word choices, bad grammar,” someone who won’t divulge their last name and anyone who has just one picture.
Gandhi coaches her clients and helps them revamp their online profiles.
She doesn’t believe in running background checks on potential dates. She suggests that anyone looking for love online do their own Google research. That includes using a date’s picture in a “reverse image” search.
For people who need a deeper dive into information, Julie Nashawaty may be able to help. She runs the new company Aste, which is like a dating detective service.
“We just need a first name, phone number and location,” she says. “We try to go after the public records we can find, like marriage, divorce.”READ MORE: Police: Shots Fired At CPD Officers From Car In West Garfield Park; Officer Fires Back, But No One Hit
Twelve percent of online daters are married, Nashawaty says.
She doesn’t have any private investigators, but this is cheaper. Just $30 and you get a report within 24 hours, listing age, job, education and links to online profiles.
Genevieve Bilia tried it out. Aste sent her a report, and the guy passed the test.
“It verifies his phone number right there, how old he is,” said Bilia.
She didn’t find out anything negative, but another Aste client, Alexandra Cann, did.
Her report found a drug possession charge. She found out he had lied about something else.
“He had told me he was 35 years old, and instantly they were able to come back and go, no, he was 40,” Cann says.
Match Group — which runs Match.com, POF, and OKCupid — tells CBS 2 it does check personal information against the sex-offender registry and uses Facebook verification to prove a user’s identity.
eHarmony also checks the sex offender registry.MORE NEWS: Asha Mosi Believes Her Clothing Company, 'Un-Cursed,' Can Be Catalyst For Powerful Change For Black Families -- And She Wants To Take It Beyond Clothes
All sites say they will remove users if they present a risk.