With the COVID-19 pandemic having brought IRL dating to a halt, online dating apps and services have surged in popularity. Scammers know this.
Tinder, Match and OkCupid might be familiar names within the dating space, but there are also plenty of fake dating websites and services out there. With an increase in the number of people turning to online dating services over the last year, it stands to reason that more services have become available. However, some of them are more interested in matching themselves with personal user information than matching users with each other.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many aspects of normal life with a shift to working and schooling from home being one of the more obvious. Just like many social gatherings have been stopped or limited over the past year, the dating scene is one that has had to adjust to this new normal. This shift has resulted in many more turning to online services to find a match and, in turn, the shift has resulted in online services releasing new features and tweaks to specifically cater to the dating-from-home scene.
Recently, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning to bring awareness to a rise in the number of dating website-related scams. According to the BBB, these sites are designed to get people to sign up, link their personal information, including credit card details, and then simply continue to bill them, even if they cancel their membership. While the services do list profiles, matches, and even allow for communications between users, most of the profiles are understood to be fake as well. This is the first major red flag to be aware of.
How To Spot & Avoid Fake Dating Services
A major warning sign is a sudden influx in potential matches, likes, and/or messages right from the start. While some lucky few might experience organic results quickly, if someone is instantly inundated with matches, that might be by design. Essentially, the service is pushing profiles on new users in a bid to generate interest and usage. Speaking of which, the profiles themselves can often be their own warning. If a lot of profiles are getting in contact, but they are incomplete or lack photos, that’s probably an additional red flag that the profiles are fake. Similarly, the BBB advises users to be wary of receiving matches which just don’t make any sense. For example, recommended profiles that are based nowhere near the user or not in line with their general dating preferences. Another warning sign could be a service asking the user to pay to message other users. In cases, where profiles are contacting the user first, but the user is expected to pay to reply, there is a good chance that’s a scam.
Some broader tips that the BBB recommends is to do some research before signing up and this is likely to be one of the most important, as it can help to avoid fake services before it is too late. While there are plenty of well-known dating sites on the internet, if the user is unfamiliar with one, a quick Google search for the site name along with keywords like “scam” and “fake” can help to identify if the service is legit or going to end up becoming a problem. Lastly, it is important to be realistic with expectations in general. A dating site that’s too good to be true is probably a scam.
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