Looking for love in all the wrong places?

Looking for love online? You may be more likely to fall victim to a scam than you are to fall in love states the Competition Bureau. Web-based dating sites may use fictitious profiles and hidden or misleading terms and conditions to bait you into paying for their services.

The lure? “Free” memberships that may not be free at all. You may be able to register and browse profiles at no cost, but you may not be able to send or receive messages with potential matches until you pay. And, once they have your credit card details, that free membership may renew automatically, until you actively opt out.

These sites often use fictitious or inactive profiles to make you think there are more members on the site than there really are. These profiles can be used to bait new members by sending them fake messages which users can’t respond to — until they pay. Or they can be used to send you a tantalizing message, just as your membership is about to expire, enticing you to renew.

In your quest for companionship, here’s how not to be a fool for love:
*Do your research. Review potential dating services online, and check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if it’s a business you can trust.
*Know what you are getting into. Know what the membership offers, how much it costs and how you will be charged.
*Carefully review and understand the terms and conditions. If the membership renews automatically, know how that works. *Make sure you know how to cancel your membership before you sign up.
*Beware of limited-time “free” trials. Find out if you will be automatically charged for a membership at the end of the trial period.
*Read the privacy policy. Know what personal information is collected, how it is used and whether it is shared.

If you believe you have been misled by an online dating service, contact the Competition Bureau and file complaint online. Or by phone at 1-800-348-5358.

Photo: Web-based dating sites may use fictitious profiles and hidden or misleading terms and conditions to bait you into paying for their services. (CNW Group/Competition Bureau)

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