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If you try two different dating sites it's kind of like being in two different bars at the same time."The ACCC is telling people to visit the Scam Watch website for tips on how to protect yourself or to report any suspect activity on dating sites.The watchdog launched the Scam Disruption Project last month to help protect the Australian community from relationship scammers.
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The consumer watchdog is today joining an international sweep of dating and romance websites in a bid to crackdown on unscrupulous practices.
She now runs a business called e Date Mate that helps people to write their profiles and navigate the pitfalls of online dating.
"When you join a dating site you can be caught up in the moment ...
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is concerned some websites do not screen their users closely enough, resulting in fake profiles that scam money from innocent people.
It is also worried about an emerging trend which shows websites use hidden costs and unfair contracts to swindle consumers.
"It can be hard to find somewhere to complain, hard to find the terms and conditions."So those sorts of traditional consumer protection issues are rising also in relation to the dating and romance sites, we're also of course seeing scams."The web search is part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network's (ICPEN) annual internet sweep, involving more than 50 consumer protection agencies around the world.
Ms Rickard said many people came into contact with scammers through dating websites."A lot of these sites are set up for Christian groups or particular groups which again add to that level of trust.
In 2012 the ACCC issued dating and romance voluntary guidelines that were developed collaboratively with an industry working group to help dating websites and their users respond to scams.
Scammers targeting online daters are breaking hearts and draining bank accounts from bases in Russia, Eastern Europe, America, the UK and elsewhere in the world.
"We're looking to see whether they're clear and transparent for consumers in terms of costs, in terms of cancellation rights, and whether they're providing a safe environment in terms of protecting people from scams," Ms Rickard said.