Have you ever felt as though you were being tricked into signing up for paid services on a dating site?
According to a new FTC lawsuit, dating site giant, Match Group, Inc. used fraudulent accounts to unfairly target users to sign-up for paid services and exposed those consumers to “the risk of fraud” through those unfair and deceptive practices.
Are the allegations true?
While the ultimate decision will be left up to the courts to decide, Match Group, Inc. is undoubtedly unhappy with going head-to-head with the Federal Trade Commission. You may know Match Group, Inc. as the owner of Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, POF, and many other dating services.
Let’s explore how the owner of these well-known sites and apps used fake love interest advertisements, often linking real users, in search of love, to known scammers.
How Match.com Is Alleged to Have Helped Scammers and Betrayed Users
As reported by The Verge, the FTC is alleging that Match.com’s “You caught his eye” notices and email advertisements were frequently linked to scammer accounts. Consumers received notices when they were liked, favorite, or IM’d by another user. While these unpaid users receiving the notifications believed another user was expressing genuine interest in them, Match.com’s software or staff had often already detected that the account Match.com was recommending to users was fraudulent.
As an unpaid user, you can create an account on Match.com, but you cannot respond to messages unless you pay for service. The FTC claims that in “hundreds of thousands of instances,” Match continued to notify users of messages already detected as originating from scammer accounts.
Real users would sign up for paid service, hoping for a connection, yet when they tried to open their messages or connections, they would find out the user who had expressed interest in them was banned (or would then be banned within days). Many users tried to talk to Match.com and request a refund, but the site was unhelpful and denied “wrongdoing”.
Just How Many New Paid Subscriptions?
The FTC took detailed track of the fraudulent behavior and claimed that the actions of Match Group, Inc. resulted in almost 500k (499,691) subscriptions, just between June 2016 and May 2018. Not only that, but the 6-month free subscription offered until mid-2019 (if a paid user didn’t meet someone special in their first 6 months of use) was based on complicated rules that many users were unaware of (for example, submitting their photograph for approval by Match.com, within 7 days of their purchase).
Out of 2.5 million subscriptions, only a little over 32k were able to get their free six months. Canceling subscriptions was not anymore straightforward, with users needing to click on over six links to do so. Users who disputed Match with a complaint were often locked out of their accounts, even if they still had paid time.
Match Group’s Response
While consumers and users of Match.com wait for the legal system to address the allegations, Match.com CEO, Hesam Hosseini, has previously spoken about the allegations. In an internally circulated memo, sent to executives and obtained by The Verge, he wrote:
The FTC will likely make outrageous allegations that ignore all of Match’s efforts to prioritize the customer experience, including our efforts to combat fraud, ...
He went on to suggest that the company has practices to combat and neutralize fraud. According to his statement, Match.com neutralizes 85% of fraudulent accounts within their first-hour window. 10% more are caught within a day. He also claims that fraudulent accounts are often those with spam, users trying to sell a service on the dating site, or bots.
How to Protect Yourself from Match.com Scams
Have you ever encountered a scammer or spammer on Match.com? What about on any of the other dating platforms owned by Match Group, Inc.; including Tinder, OkCupid, and PlentyOfFish. When you sign up for paid dating apps, have you ever encountered spam or accounts that were removed the moment you paid?
If you want to verify if the individual you met online is a real user, don’t wait for an FTC lawsuit. Instead, use a reverse lookup tool like Social Catfish to search the name, images, email address, username, or phone number they give you.
To prevent scams on dating sites, never share your private personal data (such as home address or credit card number) with any users. Report requests for money from other users and know that links to outside sites are generally from spammers or bots.
Let us know what you think in the comments about the FTC vs. Match Group, Inc. showdown!