The widespread use of the Internet gave birth a social revolution: online dating. Millions of people suddenly could connect and find love and companionship in a way they never could before. Commercials showing marriages made over the internet have been a regular occurrence on television for years.
However, as with any popular industry, online dating has become haven for people and companies trying to take advantage of those looking for love. There are two major pitfalls in the world of online dating: (1) dishonest companies and (2) dishonest daters.
Dishonest Online Dating Companies
The primary danger with dishonest websites is false advertising, in that online dating websites will promote members who are in fact not real. While a dater may hope that a specific website is filled with attractive men and women, many photos and profiles are falsely created by the websites themselves. These false profiles can go so far as to start messaging new daters with enticing comments and requests.
This method of sending fake messages is most effective where the dating website allows a user to register a free account and profile. Once a user creates the free account, they are inundated with messages from attractive and excited users; however, a free account will not allow that user to see their full profiles or message them back. Instead, a user must register for a paid account that requires a monthly subscription. Yet, once payment is made, all the messages stop, and attempting to message the people who had previously contacted the consumer is fruitless. Only after payment is made will a consumer realize he was falsely induced to join.
The second major danger facing online daters is other daters. Because of the nature of online dating, consumers seek to build meaningful and trusting relationships over the internet. What this means is that consumer can be placed in vulnerable positions where they think they are helping out someone they care about and want to strengthen their relationship. Common consumer complaints center on building a relationship with a person entirely over the internet, and then receiving a variety of requests for money from that person. Common reasons for requesting money include health issues, moving costs, a death in the family, shipping gift, or airline tickets. The dishonest dater normally requests that the money be sent by wire, usually through companies like Western Union. Furthermore, these requests are often not one time deals; instead, a dishonest dater may string out the relationship and make numerous requests for money before disappearing.
1. Do your homework: always research a website before creating an account, and especially before paying. Websites like Scambook.com can provide an insight into consumer experiences and let you know if it is safe.
2. Don’t put too much trust into anyone you are only communicating with online. If you are asked to send money by wire, there is a high probability that the recipient’s intentions are not good.
3. If it looks too good to be true, it likely is. Just like the normal world, no online dating website can only be filled with really attractive people. If it appears that everyone should be a model, it should be a red flag.