BBB Alert: If you're looking for love, don't look in the wrong places!

February 11, 2014

If you're looking for love, don't look in the wrong places!  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises you to be aware of online romance scams and the limitations of legitimate matchmaking services.


The first rule of online relationships: When dating online, never send a money transfer to someone you have not met in person. Many people find true love via online dating sites, but there are red flags to watch for that indicate you're probably dealing with a scammer.  Beware of anyone who: 

  • Asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service, as this allows rip off artists to carry out scams without the dating site having a record of the encounter
  • Claims to be from this country but is currently travelling, living or working abroad
  • Asks you for money or credit card information
  • Sends you emails containing questionable links to third-party websites


"If you start up an online relationship, don't let it move too fast!" says Phil Catlett, CEO of the BBB serving Western Michigan.  "Romance scams usually start out with online expressions of feelings of affection. No matter how nice they are, be suspicious if someone you only know online asks you for money or personal information like credit card numbers."


In addition to the heartbreak of the relationship being a lie, the FTC reports that more than $100 million was reported lost through romance scams last year...and that is just the tip of the iceberg because many victims don't report the crimes. 


When it comes to dating services, make sure to get everything in writing and that you clearly understand the agreement.  Many complaints are about billing and collection issues. Poor customer service, refund issues, advertising or sales practices also prompted complaints. 

  • Failure to match clients with singles that met specified criteria: Non-smokers  were matched with smokers, while some were matched with people who lived too far away or were married.
  • Use of inappropriate sales tactics: Complainants were yelled at and told to not be so picky.
  • Failure to deliver: Complainants didn't receive the promised number of dates or introductions. 
  • Check the BBB Business Review before signing up.