Are you lonesome tonight? Maybe you have finally overcome your commitment shyness or are sick of being single and no longer want ‘the chairs in your parlour (to) seem empty and bare’, as Elvis crooned in the 60s.
Well don’t worry about brushing up on old pick-up lines because with the popularity of legitimate online dating sites, making new friends is just a few clicks away … and you don’t even have to leave the ‘parlour’.
But while dating has never been more convenient there are still some serious risks to keep in mind when you enter the matchmaking virtual world. Not everyone is looking for love when they scan the profiles of dating site members. Some scammers have avarice rather than affection in mind and are on the look out for vulnerable, lovelorn types to fleece.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Association (ACCC) last month (May 2017) warned more money was stolen by the online lovers of scam victims than by any other means. A cool $25.5 million was lifted from the wallets of the unsuspecting lovesick compared with $23.6 million forfeited through investment schemes. Each of those amounts is greater than the total of the next seven top scams, the consumer watchdog said in its Scamwatch report.
More troubling is that 45 per cent of the scams reported were made by people over 55 years of age, with the largest single group stung being those over 65, who made up more than a quarter of all complaints.
Government financial guidance unit MoneySmart says there are precautions that should always be taken by those who socialised online to protect their personal and financial details. They include:
- Do not give out any personal, banking or credit card information to anyone who makes contact with you
- Check your bank and credit card statements every month
- Be careful what you post online and try to limit what you share
- Make sure your privacy settings are up to date on your social media accounts
- Beware if you receive friend requests from people you don’t know, as they may be trying to gain access to your information.
While all this suggests online romance is risky rather than risqué, the reality is that millions of Australians are hooked, propelling the subscription-based profits of the two largest sites – RSVP.com.au, owned by publisher Fairfax Media and Ten Network, and eHarmony.com.au – into eight-digit figures, a new analysis by IBISWorld found.
Each of these sites has special sections for seniors. RSVP.com.au has more than 600 people over 65 listed.
Members pay a subscription to join and fill out a questionnaire about themselves. The sites then use algorithms to match make members based on their stated interests.
There is also a growing list of lesser-known sites specifically for seniors seeking out a soulmate.
If the time is right for you to go looking for love but you don’t know where to begin, have a peep at a review by consumer magazine Choice, which lined up a few of the bigger online dating sites and shared its first impressions. Those fantasising about a ‘foreign affair’ can cast their nets wider at datingsitesreview.com.
However, before you sign up to a hefty subscription with a site, research the do’s and don’ts, especially in relation to scripting your online profile, and try to read feedback or comments on sites that indicate if members are getting satisfaction or being ripped off.