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As more and more of our daily social interactions move to the Internet, it’s not surprising to see dating follow this trend. Online dating services offer the chance of meeting somebody through the convenience of the Internet under the veil of privacy, but it also brings an element of uncertainty.

While finding love may not be guaranteed, some consumers have complained of unsatisfactory service that online dating services promised them.

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We received a serious complaint last year from a woman regarding her experience with an online dating service. The consumer reported to have paid $6,000 for a three year contract with the expectation of meeting up to two “matches” per month. The consumer signed up for the service in December of 2011, but she met only four people who met her stated criteria from January to November. This isn’t the only example of a consumer being misled into false expectations.

This week, CBS Boston’s I-Team conducted an investigation of Date-and-Dash, an online dating service that allows users to sign up for dating events at local cafes and restaurants. They found that restaurants and shops reported not receiving any notice for their use as dating venues, and users reported being set up with other users who did not match their criteria and complained that events were canceled completely without notice.

As with any contract, it’s important to know what you’ll be getting for your money. Always shop around to compare fees and services. More importantly, look for user reviews online from third-party sites, like the Better Business Bureau, that would provide insight into the efficacy of these services.

While consumers may lose money or be inconvenienced by taking a chance on an online dating service, there are more serious risks with using these services. Scammers may set up fake user profiles to coax would-be romance prospects into wiring them money with the pretense of being in some sort of emergency situation.  Even more dangerous situations could arise if your match is looking to meet in person. Be extremely cautious with anybody you meet online. With concerning issues like these, both the FBI and State Department have released tips on how to protect yourself from these dangers.

We hope that no matter how you date, you stay vigilant, safe, & as always a conscious consumer. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day.

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