Dating Industry steps up fight to keep dating fun, safe and scam-free
The Online Dating Association, which ensures high standards of behaviour by dating service providers, is launching a “Date Safe” campaign to help the millions of people who use and enjoy dating services in the UK to do so safely.
The campaign will be underpinned by new industry standards and practices which have been agreed by the leading dating businesses in the UK. It will also offer advice and guidance for the public and work to build links between the industry and the police and other crime prevention bodies.
Speaking on the day that convicted scammers at Winchester Crown Court are expected to be sentenced, ODA CEO George Kidd said “There is no place in online dating for those who are there to con or harm others. We are committed to keeping online dating safe. We are delighted to see the courts step-up with prosecutions and convictions as in Winchester.
“But the industry cannot be complacent. We have set new standards. We are exploring new technologies and will be working together more closely with the police and others to achieve this goal. The public too have a role to play – staying smart to protect themselves and telling if things do go wrong.”
Online and mobile dating is part of everyday life and accounts for about a quarter of all new relationships. We all do it or know someone who does. And it is part of our broader life on-line – alongside our social networking, our shopping and our banking.
It is not acceptable for people looking for a new relationship and happiness to be the target of scammers. Scammers are not daters any more than they are car-buyers or business start-ups seeking investors. They are crooks trying to make money through deception. Fighting these crooks involves everyone.
The dating industry works to protect its users from online scammers. Action has been taken and more is planned in terms of responsibilities under the industry’s Code of Practice, monitoring, information-sharing, help for the Police and giving advice to users. These are outlined in more detail under “industry actions” (see below).
Users too have a critical role to play. Scammers are a pest or worse online. The ODA are providing dating service users with new advice and guidance on how to date safe online. The advice is available from ODA, every member company, the Police and public service bodies including Get Safe Online, Action Fraud and others. Our advice is comprehensive but our messages are simple:
1. Use common sense online: use your head as well as your heart
2. Take time and care: don’t do things or share things online you wouldn’t in person
3. Never ever ever respond to a request for money, however desperate or persuasive it seems
4. Report any worrying contacts: your safety and that of others matters more than feeling silly
- The ODA was set up based on a Code of Practice. ODA members have a responsibility to check profiles, to use specialised software and skilled staff to monitor activities, to bar scammers and to give users advice, guidance and help if they are approached.
- We held a scammer workshop for the industry in 2014 and now have a forum for members to share alerts and tips.
- Our members have set up chat rooms for users that are monitored and designed to stop scammers using private e-mails to narrow-in on targets.
- We have approached the National Fraud Investigation Bureau and the Metropolitan Police cyber fraud teams with offers of help and new information sharing arrangements.
- We want courts to impose conditions banning anyone convicted of crimes against online daters from such services for life.
- We plan cross-industry data-sharing agreement to stop problem users flitting from one service to another undetected. We will continue to test how services and users can do more to verify the identity of those they meet online, possibly using web-cams and smartphones.
For more information please contact:
Ann Austin – ODA Secretary - firstname.lastname@example.org