How to Tell If a Dating Site Is Good or a Scam
We’ve all heard of catfishing but what if the entire dating site is a scam? How can you tell the difference between a legit dating site and a fake dating site that is just after your money and information?
There are a few highly reputable brands, such as EHarmony, Match and Elite Singles, that we can say with certainty are not a scam. However, once you start browsing on the free and more niche dating sites, it becomes more difficult to spot the fakes from the real deal.
Security is extremely important when you are dating online so make sure that you know the signs of a scam dating site. These are some tips on how to tell the difference between a sketchy and a legit dating site.
Signs of a Good Dating Site and a Scam Dating Site
- External Dating Site Reviews
There are plenty of websites that write reviews on dating sites. Whenever an interesting new dating site becomes popular, these review websites will probably cover it.
Such review websites are a great source of information about the quality of specific dating sites. The team that runs the website will have done a check before they recommend a dating site to their audience.
Stumbled upon a dating site that doesn’t have any external reviews? Then this website is most likely not a legitimate dating site.
Good dating sites: several reviews on external websites
Scam dating sites: not reviewed by external parties
- Member Photos
Are you on a dating site where every single photo looks like a stock photo? Then the website is probably full of fake profiles.
On real dating sites, you see a wide variety of photos. You will be able to tell that the photo is either a selfie or taken casually by a friend.
Some scammers are even silly enough to use photos of celebrities. If you are looking at members that only post professional looking photos, you are looking at fake profiles.
Good dating sites: natural looking member photos
Scam dating sites: use stock photos or celebrity photos
- Member Profile Quality
People that are serious about dating online put in the effort to create a good profile. Scammers are often not very good at making an interesting profile.
You should be on guard when you are browsing through a dating site with mostly incomplete and vague profiles. The biggest warning signs is no photos.
Another sign of fake profiles is when a lot of them are very similar. Reading the same phrases over and over again? Then there is a chance these are all the same person.
Good dating sites: complete profiles with photos, preferably verified
Scam dating sites: profiles with very limited information or unnatural writing
- Membership Prices
To be fair, the best dating sites work with paid memberships. But it is also true that scam dating sites tend to ask exorbitant fees to become a member.
The average membership prices for dating sites are between $10 – $60 per month. If you find a dating site that charges significantly more then you better check what you are getting for all that money.
Scam dating sites are only live for short periods of time so scammers try to make as much money as they can in as little time as they. This means ridiculous membership prices that don’t make any sense.
Good dating sites: clear and acceptable membership costs
Scam dating sites: very expensive and unclear pricing systems
- Payment Methods
The payment method of a dating site are a tell tale sign of whether they are scams or not. A legitimate business lets you pay with the most conventional methods such as a debit card, credit card or online payment system like PayPal.
In contrast, a sketchy dating site have unusual payment methods such as venmo, wire transfers or Western Union. These types of payment methods usually go to an individual instead of a company account.
Which brings us to another strange payment method: transferring to a personal account instead of a business account. Check the name of the account receiving the money – it should be the name of the company and not some strange unrelated name.
Good dating sites: offer conventional safe and certified payment methods
Scam dating sites: use untraceable accounts or unconventional payment methods
- Customer Service
Trustworthy dating sites will have no problem communicating with and helping their members. Their members are able to contact them by phone, e-mail, a contact form or through an instant chat box.
When it is very difficult to find contact information about a dating site company they clearly do not want to be found. They don’t want to run the risk of being recognized as a scam.
So, before joining a dating site check whether you are able to get into contact with the admin team. This is a basic security feature for dating sites – any website that doesn’t offer customer service is not safe.
Good dating sites: can easily be contacted and have a physical address
Scam dating sites: have no customer service or corporate contact information
- User Testimonials
User testimonials are one of the factors that are more difficult to judge. Some scammers are very skilled at creating believable websites and member reviews.
Professional companies know that reviews are very good for marketing so they will include member testimonials on their dating site. There not being any reviews is the first sign that the website might not be safe.
You should also look closer into the user testimonials. Watch out for testimonials with poor grammar and spelling, texts that could be copy pasted from any dating site or a series of extremely similar reviews – all red flags.
Good dating sites: provide honest testimonials from real members
Scam dating sites: don’t have any reviews or reviews that are clearly doctored
- Web Design
Another element that is a little tricky is the overall web design. It is more difficult to decipher because there are plenty of real dating sites with outdated and ugly websites.
Many of the free dating sites have a web layout that looks old and isn’t very user-friendly. However, this comes down to limited budget and doesn’t always mean that it is a scam.
On the other hand, there are also plenty of free dating sites that aren’t very safe spaces for online dating. So, if you get the feeling that the website isn’t very professionally made, you should probably look for better quality elsewhere.
Good dating sites: modern user-friendly and professionally designed websites
Scam dating sites: outdated, messy amateurish web design
- Number of Members
How many member profiles can you see? When it comes to dating sites, the more members the better.
There is no specific minimum number for a dating site to be legitimate but generally you want to join a platform with at least 100,000 members. This is a sign that a lot of people feel comfortable using the site and it also expands the dating pool.
That being said, a few niche dating sites may have fewer members. Even if the site is legit, you have to ask yourself what your chances are of finding a match within such a limited number of members.
Good dating sites: generally, at least verifiable 100,000 members
Scam dating sites: very few members
- Member Behavior
Let’s say you have joined a dating site that seems legitimate enough so far but then you keep having strange interactions with the members. Examples of strange interactions are:
- Being very secretive
- Online conversations that seem unnatural
- Members asking you for money
- Members asking you for very personal or financial information
- Chat messages at very odd hours
- Members being too eager and claiming they love you very quickly
- Majority of members living abroad
- Requests to continue the conversation offline
- Spammy messages or shady links
- Harassment or threats
These are all signs of a scam and clear red flags. If you notice any of this behavior you should report it, first to the website admin and then to the authorities.
Dating site scams are unfortunately still commonplace. That is why it is important that you are able to identify what is a safe and legitimate dating site and what is a scam.
Keep these 10 signs in the back of your mind while you are choosing which dating site to join. Your safest bet are dating site with lots of coverage in the media and dating sites that you know people in your circle have tried too.