Avoid Online Dating Scams: Tips from the BBB

February 14, 2013

If you're seeking true love by using a local or online dating service, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises you to be aware of potential scams as well as the pitfalls involved with some online dating services.

"Dating services may promise to find your soul mate," said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the BBB Serving Metropolitan New York. "While some consumers have found happiness using a dating service, others have been disappointed in the quality of matches or the number of dates they were able to make using the service. And then there are people whose 'matches' turned out to be scammers seeking money or personal information that could be used to commit fraud."

When using a dating service, especially online, to find love, BBB warns consumers to beware of the following red flags. You should be suspicious when your new “match”:

  • Suggests leaving the dating site immediately and use personal email
  • Expresses feelings of love too quickly
  • Is unable to meet you in person; makes plans to meet and then cancels due to personal or job problem
  • Claims to be a U.S. citizen who travels out of the country frequently
  • After quickly nurturing an emotional relationship, has a sudden emergency which requires your assistance by wiring money. The “emergency” is often related to travel, medical emergencies, hospital bills for a child or other relative, losses from a temporary financial setback or from a mugging or robbery.

Some online profiles link to scammers overseas, which can make it difficult for law enforcement or other agencies to make arrests or recover victims' money. Do not reveal personally identifiable information that could be used to steal your identity or gain access to financial accounts.

The BBB offers the following advice on matchmaking and online dating services to increase your chances of being lucky in love:

  • Do your homework. Ask to speak to other members or customers of the service about their experiences. Check a BBB Business Review of the service.
  • Don't give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Sales associates may tell you that a low price is only good for that day and ask you to sign a contract immediately. You should read the contract carefully and make sure you understand what you are signing and paying for.
  • Know how to break up. Consumers should not assume that they will stop being billed once the contract runs out. Many online dating sites automatically renew memberships. Usually you must call the company or send written instructions to avoid being billed again. Another issue to understand is your right to cancel the contract if you are dissatisfied with the company. Read and understand your contract terms cancellation policies before you sign up.

For more tips you can trust, visit www.newyork.bbb.org, and to sign up for our weekly scam alerts, visit https://cbbb.wufoo.com/forms/email-sign-up/.