Be a Valentine but Avoid the Traps

Ah, Love in the air…As Valentine’s day heralds and lovers and would be lovers turn their thoughts to things of romance and cuddles….The Scammers are turning their thoughts to ‘taking you’ for a somewhat less romantic ride.

The Office of Fair Trading warns that Valentine’s Day can be a scammers delight.

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Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath that although it may be free to sign up to some dating apps and websites, once you’re there the charges can start to roll in.

“For example, you may be able to view other people’s profiles for free, but only be able to contact them or learn further details if you pay money. Before entering into a contract or paying any money, you should take the time to thoroughly read the associated terms and conditions to ensure you have a clear understanding of the services that will be available to you.”

Under the Australian Consumer Law, it is an offence for a business to make a false or misleading claim, or one that is likely to mislead or deceive, such as advertising a service with an incorrect or partial price.

Also Fair Trading says we should take a moment to check whether there will be a fee payable if you end up cancelling the service.

Remember too that scammers across the world use dating apps, websites and social media channels to exploit people with fake profiles.

According to Scamwatch, Australians lost more than $24 million to dating and romance scams in 2018, an increase of $4 million from 2017.More than 30 % of people reporting romance scams also reported losing money because of the scam, with people aged over 45 reporting the majority of the losses.

Queenslanders can keep in mind the following tips to protect themselves:

  • Be careful about how much personal information you share with strangers.
  • Don’t open suspicious links, pop-up windows or click on attachments sent by unverified profiles or persons. These could infect your computer with malware.
  • Complete an image search through Google to ensure that the person has not simply stolen their profile photo from elsewhere.
  • If you agree to meet a romantic prospect in person, always tell your family and friends when and where you are going.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer.
  • If you have sent money or shared banking details with someone, contact your financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop or reverse a transaction, or close your account.

Any consumer who believes they have been misled by a dating service can lodge a complaint with the OFT and find information on their consumer rights at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading