A quarter of all adults in Britain have used a dating website at some point in their life, but new research has revealed that many of these sites are riddled with fraud.
According to consumer campaigning charity Which?, 40 per cent of people who have used a dating website have discovered fake profiles, and 20 per cent have been asked for money by someone.
“Although dating websites usually have measures to report abusive and fake profiles, contacting people online is taken at your own risk,” warned Which?
“The website itself will not be liable for any losses unless you can argue that the service you received from it was not provided using reasonable care and skill, or there were checks it said it would carry out but didn’t.”
The problem does not stop at dating sites, but extends to any website where users can set up their own profiles. In a separate survey by people-finding website 192.com, half of the respondents admitted to having fabricated fundamental aspects of their life.
The poll of 2,000 Brits found that one in 10 fake their address, 18 per cent change their age, 28 per cent have not been truthful about their salary or debt, and one in five had fabricated their online profile.
More worryingly, 192.com’s survey found that 45 per cent of respondents had been conned when dealing with other people, with 12 per cent being conned by a tradesman.
In an attempt to combat the problem, 192.com has launched a new “Background Reports” service for UK residents, allowing users to check the residential history, financial, background and company director information of people they encounter online.
Insolvency records and county court judgments will reveal unpaid debts, and mortality data will help expose identities stolen from the deceased. Address information will show details of where someone lives, has lived previously, and who with.
“By putting the official record into public hands, the Background Reports will offer protection from the deception that can occur in a range of circumstances, from employing a tradesman to work on your home, to renting a room, or going on a date,” said Dominic Blackburn, Head of Product at 192.com.
Which? also advises consumers to be cautious of anyone who quickly asks to talk on an outside email or messaging service, or who claims to be from the UK, but says they’re travelling, living or working abroad and need money.
By Sophie Curtis