Rip off with a subscription trap
The World Wide Web makes a lot of things so much easier. We agree at least to some point. But as we all know it also brings some risks and a big variety of dangers, especially regarding to private data and money. Besides viruses, phishing and spam mails, which can also create a huge damage to the device or its wallet, subscription traps are a danger on the web in general. Especially dating websites as they come with a particularly high risk of a subscription rip off.
In the following article we will tell you how the operators of such platforms conceal the scam and what consequences are to be expected. We will also explain the role of debt collection companies and lawyers that work together with the rip off operators. But we will also let you know what warning signs to spot to prevent a subscription rip off before it takes place.
Thousands of people in the UK get trapped in a subscription rip off
First there is the justified question how that kind of rip off came up, and of course there is the fundamental question why thousands of people in the UK get trapped in a subscription rip off every day of every year. In general those are mostly people who are using an online service or an online dating platform for the very first time. There is always a first time, and doing something for the first time can be quite risky if you don’t know who to trust or what you’re looking for. Of course there are some signs for a reputable website but the internet brings the chance that certain information is fake. So fallacies that might be true in real life do not have to be the same on the Internet.
Things that are remarkable are often fake in the detail about the membership with the number of active members on a dating website. For example a full restaurant can testify to good quality or good service but numbers and profiles on portals on the Internet can be faked. The unknown customers makes the wrong conclusion that a high number of members is a clear quality seal for a good and secure platform.
Read the terms and conditions
Fake ratings and experiences become more a tiresome thing on the internet. Many apps, services and websites offer their users a bonus like extra points as an example, if they leave a positive review and five stars rating on a comparison portal. Often dating websites advertise with the guarantee that all profiles are checked by hand or that the platform is well-known from TV and radio stations. Only a small percentage of visitors of such a website take the effort to check such details. Most of the people do not even scroll down to the bottom of the websites or read the terms and conditions to find out that all of this information is false.
Keywords to check
In general a scam website will try to attract customers with a free offer. One thing that works most of the time is the advertisement that the member’s area is full with young, female users. Costs, fees or subscriptions are not mentioned on the landing page and the transparency is leaking. A method how rip off dating platform disguise their misleading offer also works with very long terms and conditions which are additional hidden and hard to read. They can be difficult to read if the background is dark and the colour of the letters too. In other cases the terms and conditions can be displayed as an image. That makes it impossible for visitors to search for certain keywords. Important keywords to check for example: costs, subscriptions with the regarding duration plus fake profiles, fictitious person or a moderated chat.
Scammers are one step ahead
Many people fall for the extremely positive arguments for a registration on the website and make the big mistake by creating a profile. Additionally the operators of subscription rip off platform mostly guarantee that the registration is free of charge just for the creation of a profile plus there is a free basic membership. Usually, it doesn’t take long to enter all needed data and to confirm the e-mail address. If you are at this point the trap has not yet been fully closed yet but there is not much time left. After the completed registration many customers are tempted to take a subscription.
Here we come back to our first question of this article. Are there so many careless internet users online or are the tricks of the scammer just that convincing? The second answer is true. Many people fall for the scam because as a new user they quickly receive a lot of messages which they can’t read. The profile pictures of other members are blurred and messages cannot be sent. For that and other necessary functions of online dating the user needs a premium membership. But the costs of that are very high so many people hesitate. But the scammers are one step ahead.
The new user gets the offer of a cheaper membership with a shorter duration and lower costs as the normal membership is not attractive at all. So the platforms offer a trial subscription, usually for one Pound or less. That offer sounds very tempting of course. Many users are dazzled and have the thought in their mind that nothing can go wrong. So they take their chance and buy a membership for usually two weeks. At this point the subscription trap snaps shut.
The trial subscription will extend to a subscription for many months
The trial subscription for the premium membership is the usual trap of a rip off website. It usually runs for only 14 days which seems like a good period of time to check out the website and its members but 14 days is also the period of time for the termination. Accordingly, the customer has to cancel the trial subscription immediately after accepting the offer. However, this only works for a few cases, as the pink slip for the termination must normally be sent to the operator as a letter by post.
What makes that even harder is that the operators of such scam websites are often not based in UK, but in the Netherlands or Switzerland. Even if the pink slip arrives in time the termination letters are often not accepted without any reason or are simply ignored. Although the operators point out on the landing page of their dating portals and in the terms and conditions that the customer can cancel his subscription at any time. Well said but it is not that simple and a lie.
As the right time for the termination won’t be made the trial subscription will extend to a subscription for many months, which is billed per month. Additionally the monthly costs are between 30 and 50 Pounds or more. If the customer does not pay the fees for the subscription, reminders and similar letters will arrive in the letters box. They come from debt collection agencies and even lawyers that work together with the scam operators.
With every letter the costs are increasing
Debt collection is a collection of due claims which also can be made by serious debt collection companies. Nevertheless, there is a large number of dubious lawyers and debt collection agencies that will take over the collection of money for the rip-off companies. They write countless payment reminders to the customer. With every letter the costs are increasing plus they will always mention the threat of further legal action.
Usually, it is the lack of knowledge about the legal system that entices the user to pay. As the lawyers will claim higher and higher costs and the customers will get justified fear that the costs will continue to rise which leads to the point that the victim will pay after all. Probably it is the fact that there is a letter from a lawyer in the letter box. That will create the impression it is based on applicable law and will convince the customer that he is on the wrong side of the law.
But the truth is that the operators scam dating websites, the debt collection companies and lawyers also operate in a very dark grey area of the law. If you receive payment reminders you should first hesitate to pay and contact a person you trust. In most of the cases the lawyers will get tired after a while as they are not acting on a legal basis, and they will move on to another person to scam where they might get the money faster and easier.