Match Group, Inc. is the company behind many of the major dating sites and apps, including Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, Hinge, and more. Honestly, it’s hard to find a full list – Wikepedia just mentions that Match Group operates under 45 different imprints, only eight or so of which are mentioned on its own website. This lack of transparency seems on-brand, especially in light of the company’s current legal troubles.
On September 25, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Match Group, alleging that it has been using fraudulent means to entice thousands of users to upgrade from free to paid subscriptions on Match.com.
“We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Online dating services obviously shouldn’t be using romance scammers as a way to fatten their bottom line.”
On Match.com, users can create free profiles to view what the product has to offer and receive interest or messages, but without paying for the service, they can’t reply to messages or see the identities of people trying to contact them. Non-paying users are sent ads and emails encouraging them to upgrade every time someone times to make contact.
Match.com doesn’t have any verification process for accounts and has openly acknowledged that thousands of accounts on the app are fraudulent, being made for the purpose of many different kinds of financial scams. Consumer reports indicate that as many of 30 percent of accounts are scammers, and as much as half of all messages sent between users on the app are for fraudulent purposes. While Match.com does have a review and banning process for dealing with these, it doesn’t keep up.
The FTC’s lawsuit centers around these issues. It alleges that the corporation is not doing its due diligence to protect legitimate users from these scammers. In fact, the suit alleges, Match.com is, in fact, profiting from them as users contacted by these scammers purchase accounts thinking they might have made a legitimate connection.
This is compounded by how hard it is to cancel a subscription once it’s made.
The FTC also demands that Match make it simpler for users misled by “romance scammers” to cancel their accounts. One internal Match document showed that it took more than six clicks to cancel a subscription, and the process led consumers to think they canceled their accounts when they did not.
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