RALEIGH, NC – With Valentine’s Day gone, Singles who missed out on love often begin their search for next year online. The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (www.bbb.org) warns consumers looking for love to exercise caution when using matchmaking or dating services. As the number of online dating services grows, so does the number of scammers scheming to take money from unsuspecting consumers. Scammers seek out and target human nature.
In 2009 alone, BBBs nationwide processed over 2,200 complaints against dating services, a number that has grown considerably from 824 complaints in 2005 and only 126 in 2004. The nature of these complaints ranges from advertising and customer service to product and delivery issues.
Online dating services can be divided into two main categories: personalized matchmaking sites and online dating forums. Matchmaking sites, such as eHarmony and Match.com, restrict access to other users’ information, but promise to introduce consumers to area singles for hundreds or thousands of dollars. The most common complaint BBB receives against matchmaking sites deals with disputes over the caliber and demographics of singles promised, or a smaller number of arranged dates than originally promised.
Online dating forums like Yahoo!Personals and Singlesnet provide a network of users who post information about themselves and have unrestricted access to other singles’ profiles. The contract is typically renewed automatically on dating forums when it expires; therefore, the majority of complaints against this service cite contract and billing issues.
“The online dating industry is growing by millions of dollars annually, consumers should be especially aware of the potential dangers that can accompany online dating sites,” said Beverly Baskin, President & CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Researching the online service with BBB before you sign up will give you a better understanding of how the sites operate, in addition to making you aware of common problems others have faced.”
So if you missed Valentine’s Day, and are interested in joining more than 90 million Americans who have already used an online dating service, BBB offers the following advice to keep you safe in your search for love:
• Don’t fall in love with the advertising. Beware of exaggerated claims that promise more than they can deliver.
• Do your homework. Checkout the company with BBB (www.bbb.org) to make sure it has a history of satisfied customers and resolved complaints.
• Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Sales associates may claim that a low price is only good for one day and pressure consumers to sign a contract immediately. Read the contract carefully and make sure you understand what you are signing up for.
• Know how to break up. Many online dating sites automatically renew memberships and there are steps that must be taken, such as calling the company, to keep from being billed again. Make sure you know how to cancel the service.
For more on an online dating site, check their Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.