AG Platkin: Bumble Inc. to Pay Civil Penalty and Change Public Disclosures to Resolve Allegations its Internet Dating Services Misrepresented Criminal Background Screening Policies

For Immediate Release: February 21, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
– Cari Fais, Acting Director
Division of Law
– Michael T.G. Long, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Lisa Coryell

Consent Order

TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“Division”) announced today that Texas-based internet dating service provider Bumble, Inc. will pay $315,000 and change its business practices to settle allegations it violated New Jersey’s consumer protection and internet dating safety laws by misrepresenting or failing to disclose its criminal background screening policies and practices to its New Jersey users.

The company, which has a controlling interest in the Bumble and Badoo brands (collectively “Bumble”), agreed to the settlement terms to resolve a Division investigation that found the Bumble and Badoo dating platforms either inaccurately represented their criminal background screening policies or failed to disclose them at all, in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), the Internet Dating Safety Act (“IDSA”), and Division regulations related to internet dating services.

In addition to the monetary component of the settlement, Bumble has agreed to make significant changes to its business practices to comply with New Jersey laws and regulations. These changes include: accurately disclosing the company’s criminal background screening policies on its dating websites and apps; disclosing whether these services allow individuals with criminal backgrounds to access the services to communicate with New Jersey users; and providing details and caveats regarding the background screenings.

“New Jersey residents using internet dating services have a right to know if convicted sex offenders and other violent criminals may be among the pool of potential suitors reaching out to them online,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Our internet dating safety law requires companies to tell New Jersey members exactly what they’re doing – or not doing – to identify dangerous offenders and prevent them from accessing the online profiles of our residents. Compliance with that law is not optional.”

IDSA, a component of the CFA, was enacted to enhance the safety of individuals who use online dating services, increase public awareness of the possible risks associated with internet dating activities, and address a public safety need to disclose whether criminal history background screenings have been performed on those who use dating platforms.

In addition to requiring internet dating services to clearly and conspicuously disclose whether they conduct criminal background checks on users, IDSA requires internet dating services that conduct background checks to provide specific safety awareness notifications regarding the efficacy of these checks and to disclose whether individuals identified as convicted criminals are allowed to use the internet dating service. IDSA applies to any company that provides internet dating services to New Jersey residents.

“The disclosures mandated by IDSA are essential to public safety because they help New Jersey consumers assess their exposure to risk and allow them to make informed decisions about the dating sites they join,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “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 Division launched its investigation into Bumble in 2020 amid growing concerns of sexual assault occurring via dating platforms. The investigation revealed that Bumble and Badoo have historically screened at least some of their users against state and national sex offender registries in response to member-generated reports or press reports regarding incidents of sexual assaults. Nevertheless, Bumble has stated that it does not conduct criminal background screenings and Badoo has failed to include any criminal background screening disclosures for consumers. The Division alleges this conduct constitutes violations of the dating safety disclosure requirements of IDSA and the Division’s regulations, as well as CFA provisions protecting consumers against fraudulent and deceptive business practices.

Under the terms of a settlement filed today, within 45 days Bumble must update its disclosures on Bumble and Badoo sites to accurately describe its practices relating to criminal background screening, in compliance with New Jersey laws and regulations. It also must send an email and issue a pop-up notification to all existing New Jersey users informing them of these disclosure updates.

Additionally, Bumble will clearly and conspicuously disclose on its dating sites:

  • the means and methods used to conduct criminal background screenings;
  • whether criminal background screening information is updated, and if so how often;
  • whether Bumble allows members who have been identified as having a conviction for any crime – including those qualifying them for registration as a sex offender – to have access to its service to communicate with New Jersey members; and
  • what crimes, if any, disqualify a member from having access to its service to communicate with New Jersey users.

Bumble will also include on its dating sites required safety awareness notifications regarding the limitations of criminal background screenings, including that:

  • screenings are neither foolproof nor perfect safety solutions and may give users a false sense of security;
  • criminals may circumvent even the most sophisticated search technology;
  • not all criminal records are public in all states and not all databases are up to date;
  • only publicly available convictions are included in criminal background screenings; and
  • criminal background screenings do not cover convictions in foreign countries.

The State was represented by Deputy Attorney General Cody I. Valdez, under the supervision of Section Chief Kashif T. Chand and Assistant Section Chief Thomas Huynh of the Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Section, within the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group of the Division of Law. The investigation into the Bumble matter was conducted by Investigator Aziza Salikhova of the Office of Consumer Protection, within the Division of Consumer Affairs.