BBB warns of romance scams ahead of Valentine’s Day, tips for choosing dating service

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Valentine’s Day approaches, Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky officials have issued a warning for romance scams.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the country are looking for human connection and scammers are looking to take advantage of that.

“It can be a lonely time through COVID-19. We are home more, we’re not allowed to be with each other. So, someone that is looking for a match gets lured in by someone they believe is a legitimate opportunity and they start conversations,” explained BBB President and CEO Robyn Householder.

There are a lot of services to choose from when trying to find love online. The BBB has the following tips to select the right and safe dating service to avoid scammers.

  1. Do your research:

Talk to your family members or friends to ask for any recommendations they might have. You can read business profiles on BBB.org and make sure the business you are considering does not have any unanswered or unresolved complaints. Consumers will also be able to view if the company has a satisfaction guaranteed policy.

2. Determine what you are looking for:

Before you search for the dating service, it is important to decide what you’re looking for in the interactions. If you are looking for casual companionship or a relationship leading to marriage.

3. Determine who you are looking for:

BBB officials say it’s important to know what qualities you’re looking for in a partner, and to possibly look for someone who lives locally.

4. Compare Pricing/Services:

Make sure you’re using a reputable site with the lock symbol in the search tab. Then, compare services and take a look at what is in the membership to find the best value for your money. Always pay with a credit card, never gift cards.

5. Be Cautious:

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, many ‘meet ups’ will be virtual. However, if you do meet your date in person, be sure to do so at a public place. Scammers will join dating sites with the intention to scam those actually looking for a relationship.

Householder told News 2 you have to be wary of anyone asking to communicate of of a dating site.

“Any legitimate dating site will tell you no, keep the communication through their portal. Once you’re off the site that’s when the real deception starts. You will hear stories of their sick mothers or dogs and they will start asking you for money. Before you know it you’ll be in for thousands of dollars.”

Scammers may ask you to wire money for travel, medical emergencies, hotel, and hospital expenses for their family members, visas and other documents, or temporary money setbacks. 

“We are all so used to instant gratification, you can access just about anything online, sometimes the same day… but when you’re talking about anything to do with your personal relationships or money, do a Google search to see if its legitimate. Proceed with caution.”

If you fall victim to a romance scam, contact the dating site and the BBB.

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