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Using an introduction or dating agent

Introduction and dating agents can help you meet new people. If you are thinking about joining up:

  • look closely at the different agencies
  • find out what type of service they have to offer
  • ask to see the licence of any introduction agent.

Licensing

An introduction agent needs to have a valid licence before they can work. They face penalties if they are unlicensed.

Once a business has a licence, they must:

  • follow certain rules
  • show their licence number on their advertising and website.

Exceptions

They do not need a licence if they:

  • are a community and non-profit organisation
  • organise other public events such as dances
  • are a prostitution service.

A business doesn’t need a licence to publish or broadcast (such as a website, newspaper or television advertisement) a list of people looking for a relationship, as long as:

  • there is a way for you to contact other participants directly (you don’t need to contact the business to get the contact details of the other participants)

and either:

  • they charge you less than $100
  • it’s only a one-off service.

Check the public register for free of all licensed introduction agents.

Contracts and payments

Disclosure statement

By law, the business must give you a disclosure statement before you sign a contract. This will set out what services they will give you under the contract.

It must include:

  • who they are
  • their name
  • what type and levels of service they will provide
  • what criteria they use to match clients
  • how they introduce clients
  • how their complaint procedure works
  • what else you must do.

It also outlines the costs to you. This includes:

  • how much each level of service costs
  • how and when you will need to pay
  • what their refund policy is, including when they will give a refund
  • how much you must pay to end the contract early
  • You have the right to cancel the contract if they don’t do this properly.

Contract

You must sign a contract (‘introduction agreement’) with the business before they do any service for you.

The contract will set out:

  • the cooling-off period
  • their cancellation terms
  • the full details of their services
  • the payment details.

Read the contract carefully so that you know exactly what you are paying for. The business must give you a signed copy to keep.

You have the right to cancel the contract if they don’t do this properly.

Cooling-off period

The law gives you a cooling-off period of 3 business days. During this time, you can change your mind about the agreement.

If you cancel during the cooling-off period, they must refund:

  • all of the money you have paid—less a cancellation fee
  • within 7 days of receiving their notice.

You have the right to cancel the contract if they don’t do this properly.

Payments

They must not demand more than 30% of the price upfront if:

  • the price for the single agreement is $500 or more
  • you paid them $500 or more in the past 30 days (as a total of all agreements)
  • you paid $2,500 or more in the past 12 months (as a total of all agreements).

You can pay the rest, either:

  • at the end of the agreement
  • in equal instalments during the term of the agreement.

Example:

If the contract is $3,000 for 12 months, they must not accept more than $900 upfront.

The balance is $2,100. You can negotiate with the business to pay the balance, either:

  • at the end of the agreement
  • in 12 equal, monthly instalments of $175.

Cancellations

If the business breaks the law you have the right to cancel without penalty if the business:

  • does not give you the disclosure statement
  • does not get you to sign a contract before you use their service
  • asks for more money than legally allowed.

During the cooling-off period

You can cancel during the cooling-off period for any reason. If you do, the business can charge a cancellation fee.

This fee cannot be more than:

  • $50 (for contracts over $500)
  • 10% of the contract price (for contracts under $500).

Other reasons

If you want to cancel for any other reason, you will need to read the terms and conditions. You may need to pay a fee.

Romance scams

Beware of romance scams if you have been introduced to a person through a dating service or app. These scams typically involve people spending many months grooming their victims online, including messages declaring their love, to the point where they build up enough trust with their victims to ask for money or personal information.

Tips to protect yourself from romance scams:

  • always be cautious of people you meet online
  • never send money to someone you haven’t met in person
  • be wary if someone tries to move communications away from the dating website or app to another platform like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or email
  • be alert to inconsistencies in their stories
  • be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with prospective partners as scammers are known to blackmail their victims using compromising material.

For more information, visit Scamwatch for the latest on dating and romance scams.