NJ & Bumble Settle for $315k Over Misleading Background Check Disclosures


Online Dating Giant to Revamp Practices Following New Jersey Consumer Protection Probe into Bumble's Criminal Background Screening Policies.

NEWARK, NJ – Bumble Inc., a major player in the internet dating service industry, has agreed to a $315,000 settlement with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. The settlement addresses allegations that the company, which controls the Bumble and Badoo brands, misled New Jersey users about its criminal background screening policies, violating state consumer protection and internet dating safety laws.

The inquiry, initiated in 2020 amidst rising concerns over sexual assault incidents linked to dating platforms, revealed that Bumble's communication about conducting criminal background checks was at best unclear, and at times, entirely absent. This lack of transparency breached the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), the Internet Dating Safety Act (IDSA), and related regulations, necessitating significant changes in Bumble's operational protocols.

As part of the resolution, Bumble has committed to overhauling its disclosure practices to align with New Jersey's stringent legal standards. Key modifications include clear descriptions of the company’s background check policies on its websites and apps, indications of whether services permit access to individuals with criminal backgrounds, and detailed information on the nature and limitations of these screenings.

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin emphasized the right of New Jersey residents to be fully informed about the safety measures—or lack thereof—implemented by online dating services. 

"Our internet dating safety law requires companies to tell New Jersey members exactly what they’re doing [...] Compliance with that law is not optional," Platkin stated, highlighting the legislation's role in safeguarding users from potential dangers.

The Internet Dating Safety Act mandates explicit notification by dating services regarding the performance of criminal background checks, aiming to foster a safer online environment and enhance user awareness of potential risks. Bumble's forthcoming adjustments will address these requirements, offering greater transparency about who may be interacting with users on its platforms.

Under the settlement, Bumble will also issue direct notifications to its New Jersey user base about these updated disclosures, ensuring that consumers are aware of the revised policies. Furthermore, the company is tasked with providing detailed safety awareness notices about the limitations of criminal background screenings, acknowledging that no method is infallible and that certain criminal records may remain undetected.

This settlement marks a significant step towards enhancing the transparency and safety of online dating services in New Jersey, holding Bumble accountable for its commitments to user protection. 

Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, Cari Fais, underscored the importance of this agreement, stating, "The settlement announced today makes it clear that any internet dating site providing services to New Jersey residents must comply with our laws or be held accountable."

The State's representation by Deputy Attorney General Cody I. Valdez and the investigative efforts of the Division of Consumer Affairs underline the rigorous enforcement of consumer protection laws in New Jersey, ensuring that companies like Bumble adhere to the highest standards of honesty and transparency in their operations.

I'm interested (1)
I disagree with this
This is unverified