If you are
looking for friendship or companionship, you may decide to seek the assistance
of a dating service to meet other people. Check dating services carefully
before you sign a contract or pay for any services.
dating services are regulated by state law. A dating service is defined as any
service “that purports to assist a person in obtaining friendship or
companionship through a program in which a person is provided the opportunity
to meet other persons.” Under Wisconsin law, a dating service is required to:
buyer a copy of a written contract.
length of time covered by the contract, not to exceed two years.
full price of membership, including any interest or other charges.
as part of the written contract, of the member’s three-day right to cancel.
protect consumers, dating services that require customers to pay more than $100
in advance fees are required to establish proof of financial responsibility
with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by
maintaining a $25,000 bond, certificate of deposit, or escrow account, or by obtaining
an irrevocable letter of credit.
If you are
interested in contracting with a dating service, consider the following before
making a decision:
services are included in the fees? Several types of plans may be available at
What are the
fees? Find out the full costs and obligations of the service. Can you afford
Check out the
refund and cancellation policy. Under what circumstances can you cancel? Are
refunds available if they do not provide services promised?
geographical areas are served?
Do you have the
right to decline an introduction with no penalty against your membership?
What are the
risks? What kind of measures are in place related to confidentiality, safety,
What is the
reputation of the dating service? How long has it been operating? Can it
Do not feel
pressured by persuasive sales techniques from dating service personnel who may
receive commissions for the memberships they sell. Sales presentations may
include emotional appeals. Do not let your heart control your purse strings.
Take the time to thoroughly review the service and understand any contract you
are asked to sign.
traditional dating services still exist, internet or online dating services
have emerged as a popular choice. Many online services tend to cater to special
interests – age, race, religious beliefs, and common interests.
available option is speed dating. Speed dating events usually require
pre-registration with a limited number of participants. During the event you
meet a pre-determined number of people for a set amount of time. On your “Match
Sheet” you can indicate which participants you would be interested in further
contact with. If there is a match, you are able to contact that person for
While there are
no federal regulations, there are some states, like Wisconsin, that have
regulations in place.
makes it much easier for a person to misrepresent themself. Fake or outdated
photos may be used, personal histories enhanced or exaggerated, personal traits
fabricated. With traditional dating it is possible to check with friends,
family members or acquaintances to check a person’s reputation. Online dating
makes this more difficult.
are not required to do background checks on members. This is typically
disclosed within their terms and conditions.
tips to keep in mind are:
Do not provide
personal information. Never include your last name, e-mail address, home
address, phone number, place of work or other identifying information in your
Use free e-mail
accounts. Online dating sites may provide an anonymous email feature. If not,
set up an email account using a free service just for online dating. Use only
your first name or something else in the signature block so the email cannot be
traced to you.
anonymous phone service or block your number. Do not provide your personal
Do not provide
financial information. Stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for
personal or financial information or attempts to trick you into revealing it.
questionable characteristics in your communications. Do they get angry easily?
Are they controlling? Do they avoid your questions?
Trust your gut.
If you feel something is not right, it probably is not.
Ask for a
recent photo. If you ask for a recent photo and when you meet them you see a
major difference, you may have been deceived. You may no longer want to pursue
scammers. Once a scammer is confident of having your trust, they will start
asking for money. They may tell you they need it to help get money the
government owes them, cover the costs of a sudden illness, surgery, robbery,
accident, or job loss. It may be for them, or a daughter or son. They may ask
for money to cover the cost of travel to finally meet face-to-face. You might
get documents from an attorney as “proof” of their genuine intentions along
with a promise to pay it back. As real as the relationship seems, it is a scam
and you will lose all the money sent.
Stick with paid
online services. Free services provide a greater opportunity for potentially
Do not get a
false sense of security. Some services claim to offer “background checks” which
could lull you into a false sense of security. Laws differ from state to state
when it comes to background checks and there are states where they cannot be
effectively performed. Because of the inconsistency, critical information can
be missed. Never let your guard down.
Meet in a
public place for your first meeting. Provide your own transportation. Make sure
you let a friend or family member know where you will be and who you are with.