An Internet Patrol Exclusive: Interview with Online Dating Site True.com’s CEO Herb Vest

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A couple of weeks ago we told you about True.com, and how True.com’s CEO, Herb Vest, was lobbying to require online dating services which don’t perform criminal background checks to disclose that fact. Vest’s True.com, of course, does perform criminal background checks, along with marital status background checks, and may be one of the only online dating services in the United States to perform such checks.

In that article we pondered “How much business do you think that Herb Vest’s True.com would gain being the only service which could say “We perform criminal background checks on all of our users”?”, and to our astonishment and delight, none other than Mr. Herb Vest himself showed up and responded to the article.

Holy Kibo, Batman!


 

Quick to recognize an opportunity when we see one, we seized the day, or at least the email address, and invited Mr. Vest to take part in a one-on-one interview, to which he most graciously agreed.

Here now, follows that interview:

The Internet Patrol (TIP): Hello, Herb, thank you for agreeing to this interview!


 

Herb Vest, CEO of True.com: Thanks for the opportunity to respond to your interview questions.

TIP: Here are some things about which Aunty Spam and her readers are curious:

First, what led you to start True.com?

Herb Vest: As we keep hearing over and over again, the divorce rate among married couples is too high and continues to rise. The result of a high divorce rate is tapping into the family nucleus and has tragic global implications. I started True.com because I know we can do something to lower the divorce rate and provide a safe and wholesome environment for courtship that is based on the science of compatibility.

TIP: Why another online dating service, now, with the plethora of online dating services such as Match, eHarmony, and the like? What makes True.com different?

Herb Vest: True.com has many differentiators. First, increasing the safety of our users is a top priority, which is why we run criminal background screenings and marriage screenings on every communicating member. Convicted felons and married men and women need not apply to use our site.

Second, many other competitors tout tests that seek to measure compatibility between couples with no scientific basis. Unfortunately for singles, these companies often make unsubstantiated representations about the scientific accuracy and success of these tests. Any test is only as reliable as the science behind it. Moreover, any test that has not been independently verified in terms of methodology, findings, algorithms and conclusions, has questionable validity at best. Reputable researchers seek to publish the results of their studies for comment by other professionals, and to stimulate further inquiry in their field.

As an entrepreneur and CEO of True.com, my vision is to drastically reduce the divorce rate. In my view, this can only be accomplished by rigorous adherence to established professional standards of psychological research. Our dedication to advancing the science of compatibility is evidenced by our adherence to sound, scientific research methodology:

1. The True Compatibility Test is based on Item Response Theory, or IRT, the latest in test development methodology. In my opinion, any test not based on IRT can not be said to be valid by modern standards.

2. The True Compatibility Test is the only relationship test to be independently verified to meet the 1999 Standards for Psychological and Educational Testing as established by a joint committee of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education.

3. True is the only online dating site to publish its 119-page technical manual on its site.

The research, upon which the True Compatibility Test is based, has been presented for professional publication. Plus, pioneers in the field including Psychology Today, have endorsed the test. True remains committed to advancing the science of compatibility by stimulating further research.

TIP: Even though you’ve just recently been in the news a lot, the site itself has actually been around for several years, right? What were you guys doing before you launched the current incarnation of True.com?

Herb Vest: True.com has been around a little over a year and a half. Before the launch of True.com, I was the founder and CEO of a financial services company, H.D. Vest. Our firm revolutionized the accounting industry by changing the way Americans invest, and True.com is revolutionizing the relationship world by changing the way people find love online through scientific compatibility in a safer environment.

TIP: One of the things which differentiates True.com from other online dating sites is the manner in which you screen your prospective clients. You do a criminal background check, and also check public records to determine whether they are married. What led you to do this, and why? And are you really the only dating site which does either of these background checks?

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An Internet Patrol Exclusive:  Interview with Online Dating Site True.com’s CEO Herb Vest
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Herb Vest: It seems everyday you pick up the paper and you read about another senseless murder by convicted felons who use the internet to prey on innocent people. I, unfortunately, have personal experience with the tragic loss of a loved one as my own father was murdered. I do not wish that kind of pain on any person or any family. I know that criminal background screening isn’t perfect, but if we can prevent just ONE person from being harmed at the hands of a convicted felon, then our policy is worth it. All firms engaged in the pairing of two individuals for the purpose of finding love and compatibility should be doing everything they possibly can to protect the safety of their customers. They can do that by running criminal background screenings or at least prominently disclosing to users they do not run these types of screenings.

With respect to the marriage screenings, we screen out five percent of registrants per month because they fail the marriage screening. When you put your profile online, you have a duty to be truthful in advertising yourself to other users. Those who hold themselves out as not being married when they are should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

We have recently heard of other online relationship companies that have followed our lead to begin running criminal background screenings. We are glad to see this positive development and will continue to push others in our industry to similarly increase the safety of their members. To our knowledge, True.com is the only leading relationship firm that runs both criminal background screenings and marriage screening.

TIP: You’ve been in the news recently for lobbying to have laws passed which would require online dating sites to make it clear if they do not perform these background checks. While the value for the prospective customer is clear, a case can also be made that this is as much a move to knock out the competition – after all, if an online dating site is required to state “we don’t do criminal background checks”, how can they hope to compete against the one site which does? Isn’t this a bit like the tail wagging the dog? And shouldn’t the market prevail for you in this case, rather than taking it to the legislature? Will the cost to implement such a background checking system in order to be able to stay in competition with you force other online dating services out of business, or cause them to lose customers if they have to provide a disclaimer if they don’t do such checks?

Herb Vest: The most important duty of government is to protect its citizens. One way government can protect the health and safety of its citizens is requiring companies to disclose limitations in their product or service. Government required disclosure is a common practice. From the tobacco industry to the food and drug industry, disclosure is a proven and effective method of communicating with consumers, particularly when health and safety is concerned.

In a time when people are meeting online and then meeting in person, our industry should be doing everything it can to increase the safety of our customers. Most importantly, our customers believe we are taking steps to ensure their safety. In a recent survey, ONE IN THREE online daters assumed that companies were ALREADY running criminal background screenings. I am willing to give up True’s primary differentiator in an attempt to save lives. That is why the Safer Online Dating Alliance (SODA) and I are pursuing legislation that will provide full disclosure to online dating customers and provide a wholesome and safer environment for courtship.

TIP: You are an incredibly well-accomplished businessman, holding several advanced degrees – including a J.D. and a doctorate in International Business Administration. You’ve done academic work at Harvard Law School, Princeton, and Wharton, led a NASDAQ-traded company to merger with Wells Fargo, and have been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Accounting” by Accounting Today. What led you into the world of online dating as a business venture?

Herb Vest: I am impressed by the background check you have done on me! The world is comprised of two main components: money and love. I tackled the money side when I founded H.D. Vest. Now I am going to tackle the love side. I am an entrepreneur at heart and believe that True.com can make a contribution to mankind by lowering the divorce rate and addressing compatibility through science.

TIP: I note that you have on your advisory board Dr. Monica Moore, whose expertise is “in-person flirting”. I have some expertise in that – how does one turn that into a professional career?

Herb Vest: Before I met my beautiful wife, Kerensa, I too, considered myself an expert in “in-person flirting!” But really, I’m proud to be in the company of some of the most respected academics in the field of relationship psychology. Dr. Moore earned a Ph.D in experimental psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. There have been dozens of papers on the topic of flirting published to Monica’s credit. True.com’s advisory board includes a team of leaders in their respective fields.

TIP: Herb, thank you so very much for joining Aunty today, and answering our questions.

Herb Vest: Thank you

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An Internet Patrol Exclusive:  Interview with Online Dating Site True.com’s CEO Herb Vest

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6 Replies to “An Internet Patrol Exclusive: Interview with Online Dating Site True.com’s CEO Herb Vest”

  1. I’ve been dating a girl over and Guan Africa her name is Angelina Luis she tells me that she’s from Mississippi I’ve sent her lots of money I think she’s a scam she said she’s in the one of the major hospitals over there right now she can’t get out because she owes them $1,500 and wants me to so she can get out of there she’s very beautiful I’m 60 years old I’m thinking that this is a scam I’ve already Center thousands of dollars would like to see people like this get busted my phone number is [obfuscated] you’re welcome to call me at any time I’m a truck driver I live in Oklahoma

    1. Randy, this is definitely a scam (and that picture of the beautiful girl is not her. In fact ‘she’ is likely a guy). Please get in touch with the local office of the FBI, and your local police department, and give them all of the details.

  2. There is a few things Mr. Vest left out

    I know first hand about Matchmakers. Well, one named Sara Norton, Dallas Texas. I meet her in 1991 at a fundraiser for Parkland Hospital. She approached me gave me her card and asked me to meet with her so she could tell me about her service.

    I called a couple of weeks later and met with her at an office on Lemon Ave. Sara told me she matches people and that she only charged the men ($3,000) a year. Sara went on to say that the men she worked with were busy professional, usually divorce and getting back into dating. Sara also told me she checked these guys out.

    Sara introduced me to some very nice people and a couple I did date for 6 to 8 months. Sara also would have an open party that she charged $50 for men and some women $30. I have never been much of a party girl. Sara would call and ask me to come because the party was usually short on women – no charge. Sara also would have a private party for her members at one of the members home. Come to think of it she usually charged for that party too. Sara would call and ask me to come to those as well. This occasion was special it was her birthday.

    I mainly went to her events because she didn’t charge me and was introducing me to people. Most were a complete mismatch and I began to believe she wasn’t matching by interests, morals, character. It was more I have a guy that needs a date. Who owes me a favor? I arrive late. My usually MO was to stay for one hour and a half say thank you get my car go home get comfortable and watch TV with my dog.

    The night of her birthday party. fall of 1995 I wasn’t up for going out, but there was two reasons to go. The first it is Sara’s birthday and the second was it was in my neighborhood about 5 miles away. I arrive at a nice colonial style home. You know the white house with 4 pillars. Cars lined the street bumper to bumper. When I pulled into the end of the cul-de-sac there was a valet service. There was a line to get in the house. You had to check in and pay. While I was waiting a man approached me introduced himself as the host and with that I went inside. That night at Sara’s birthday party was pretty much the same. I found Sara. Her father was with her. Sara was having a great time. Usually when I talk to her I could see she wasn’t listening and more interested in the crowd. I went to get a cocktail and hit the buffet. Most of the people there I had seen at other events of Sara’s and there really wasn’t anyone I wanted to meet normally. There usually were one or two people that it was nice to see and catch up with.

    My host was Herb Vest.

    There is a lot more to the story, I will say this there was no happy ever after. The sum of it was womanizing, abuse, cheating, narcissistic, paranoia, perverted sexual demands, manipulation, deception, lies, character assassination, invasion of privacy, accusations: mafia and a prostitute. Which all lead to a nervous breakdown, drug overdose, suicidal, anxiety and panic attacks, Post traumatic Stress Disorder, medications, doctors, mental hospital and a very nasty law suit which is soon to be public and is on going.

    The point is it doesn’t matter how you meet someone, nor does education, success, age, or wealth. A background check will never disclose a persons morals, sprit, character, heart or mental health issues and in fact if you have the money you can hide your past as Mr. Vest has by getting the judge Merrill Hartman, 192nd Dallas District Court to seal the file, by claiming the information would damage his business and personal life.

    Mr. Vest claims to what to protect people form emotional and physical hazards through background checks and full discloser. So why doesn’t he practice what he preaches?

  3. Vest fired Dr. Jim Houran and is suing him too. He also fired his security expert. His two sons don’t want to have anything to do with him. His oldest son had a baby and grandpa hasn’t seen him yet. His wife gets a boat load of cash if she stays with him for so long. Vest must be having money problems because he got his youngest son to buy his house and he is suppose to pay rent, but is behind. And he got the same son to put up some cash in his online dating bus. The law suit against him by his former fiancee has got to be costing him a bunch in legal fees. I have seen details about what he put that poor woman through. What a JOKE! Vest wants background checks yet he got the judge on that case to seal the file. If he can hide his background what makes him think people should use his service. Vest ads are of womens breasts and he tells everyone it is a wholesome enviroment for courtship. This ship is sinking. Even employees are wearing life jackets

  4. What a bunch of fluff.

    Vest and the art of flirting is a nice why of putting womenizing.

    Vest usings the death of his father to sell is business.

    What a joke!! Reduce the divorce rate. He is on his third and he cheated on his 2nd wife and his financee who is suing him in Dallas.

    Guess now that the stupid idea to use the government didn’t work. Vest has to find a new way to get attention.

    The more I hear from Vest the bigger the Idot he gets

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