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"He wasn't happy" about doing it, Hall said of her fiance.

But eventually he turned over his Social Security number.

The growth of the dating-security industry is part of the evolution of the Internet, where every powerful tool such as online banking or e-mail comes with a dark side of data theft and spam messages.

My Space, which started as a way for kids to exchange likes and dislikes, recently set up checks against sex-offender registries.

A Cleveland firefighter, George Greer, was indicted last June for raping a woman he met through an Internet dating site.

An online dater in New York City, actor/musician Franca Vercelloni, said background screenings "couldn't hurt matters" but should not be a reason for dropping one's guard."You're not going to rely on what you learn from the online profile anyway," said Vercelloni, who's in her late 20s.

"Dating in New York City is just as hard as trying to get a job or an apartment.

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Thirty-one percent of American adults say they know someone who has used a dating Web site, and nearly 60 percent of Internet users said they think a lot of online daters lie about their marital status, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project study last year.

In the past decade, sites such as Yahoo Personals, and e Harmony helped make Web-based courtship mainstream for 10 million current daters.

But some seasoned veterans say the thrill of using the Internet's power to find soul mates has given way to caution.

Singles now draw on a growing arsenal of security and research tools -- from services that verify identity and background to companies that provide temporary phone numbers as a barrier to stalkers.

Sites like Dont Date Him allow scorned lovers to warn others away from their bad dates.

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