BBB warning Kansans about online dating scams

KNSS News
February 07, 2020 - 5:10 am
BBB warning Kansans about online dating scams
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The Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to be aware of the limitations, costs and terms of online dating services as well as the potential for fraud if a match turns out to be a thief. 

“Many individuals have found happiness and companionship using reputable dating services but folks do need to keep their guard up to avoid being swindled, hurt or worse,” said Jim Hegarty, president and CEO of the regional BBB. “It’s really important to research the firm your considering using to be sure they have a solid record.”

BBB received more than 1,100 complaints about dating services last year. Many concerned billing and collection issues. Poor customer service, refund issues, advertising or sales practices also prompt complaints. Often, customers complain that it is difficult to cancel the service because it is automatically renewed.  Of more concern to BBB and law enforcement entities are the scams that are perpetrated through these sites.

“BBB Scammer Tracker shows multiple reports from people in our BBB’s service area who stated that they have been victims of a relationship scam,” Hegarty stated. “One woman had been taken for $25,000 by a scammer who claimed to be from Omaha, Nebraska. Another victim from Wichita, Kansas, reported losing $14,000, and a third woman from Papillion, Nebraska, lost $4,000. While these losses are substantial, we’ve also seen victims who have lost everything.”

Besides reporting romance scams on BBB Scam Tracker, consumers also report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The number of reports continues to grow. In 2017 the FTC received 16,940 complaints from people who had been victims of a romance scam. In 2018 there were 22,284 complaints, and in 2019 the number grew to 38,851. The losses to these scams exceed a billion dollars over the past several years.

Even if you don’t sign up for a dating service, romance scams through social media and email are quite common. Law enforcement and other agencies get thousands of complaints every year from people who have lost money through online dating, social media or email connections. Criminals posing as potential romantic “matches” may lead victims on for a while, then suddenly claim they’ve got big medical bills or some other emergency need for money. Some criminals are overseas, making it difficult for authorities to pursue them or for victims to get their money back.

The BBB advises consumers need to make sure they comprehend what they are signing up for when they use an online dating service. Read any contracts, terms or conditions carefully to understand how they will be charged and what they need to do to cancel. Some consumers complained that they signed up for a free trial, but their credit cards were charged before they could cancel.

Anyone can check a BBB Business Profile of a business by going online to bbb.org or by calling 800-649-6814.

Related: Better Business Bureau

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