LONELY hearts are being warned to carefully check the terms and conditions of dating apps to avoid being stung by slick scammers this Valentine's Day.
Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said Valentine's Day can be a wonderful time to celebrate with the one you love – but also means scammers can be on the lookout for singles who are ready to mingle.
"Unfortunately these shonks have no shame – so my message to those looking for love is to read the terms and conditions very closely, and only do business with reputable dating agencies," Mr Kean said.
In the last three years, NSW Fair Trading has received almost 200 complaints about dating websites, apps and introduction agencies. Complaints generally relate to unsatisfactory service, cancellations and refunds.
Recent romance scam victims, where Fair Trading has been able to help, include:
• A consumer in Western Sydney who signed up to a dating website during a 'one week risk free money back guarantee' period. Despite cancelling her membership within that week, the company kept charging her. Fair Trading negotiated a full refund for the consumer.
• A would-be valentine from North Sydney who signed up for matchmaking services. When she wanted to cancel, she was told there was no refund for change of mind. Fair Trading negotiated a 50 per cent refund of fees paid.
• An Eastern Suburbs lonely heart was charged every month for more than two years after deleting a dating app from their phone. Fair Trading organised a full refund.
Mr Kean said services supplied by businesses come with automatic consumer guarantees under Australian Consumer Law.
"Consumers are therefore well within their rights to seek redress when services do not meet a consumer guarantee – and that can include a refund or compensation," Mr Kean said.
"If things do go wrong try to sort it out directly with the dating agency. If that fails, my advice is to call NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or lodge a complaint online."