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Where did they get my details?

Have you ever wondered where dating sites who you’ve never approached, to the best of your knowledge, get your contact details from? Whether it’s a spam (unsolicited) e-mail, text or phone call, they have got your information from somewhere.

What is worse for the unsuspecting individual, if it is an uninvited adult dating site that gets in touch, is that it is not necessarily another matchmaking service that has forwarded your data. If you are in a relationship and you are unfortunate enough to have your partner check your inbox, you may have trouble explaining away a proposal for a date from someone looking for love in your area.

There are several ways the unrequited dating site may have come by your information. If you have signed up for a free dating site, there is a better than average chance that one of the ways they raise capital is by selling their clients’ information to anyone willing to pay for it.

With the amount of start-up dating sites looking for a route to market, there is a requirement for buying redundant or aged dating site databases. Not only is it a mailing list for the new online personals site, but also provides ready-made profiles; to anyone looking from the outside in, the dating site may seem well-populated. However, there is no guarantee that the members are current, or that they’ve ever heard of this new matchmaking site, of which they’re supposed to be a member.

And it doesn’t matter how long it has been since you joined the original online dating site – companies who operate mailing lists, unless there is a clause in sign-up, will never delete your name from their records until you unsubscribe.

There are also sites, particularly towards Eastern Europe and beyond, where affiliate sites are swiftly taking over the market. One central dating web-site exists, the head of the franchise, if you like, from where those in the chain below receive their programs. Once a sub-domain is created, one of two things happen, equally as cheap:

  1. The affiliate site either gets a duplicate copy of the members signed up to the main site (these are the seeds) and, as new members join, the old members are unwittingly plucked (like weeds) once established.
  2. The other way, even cheaper, is that the afilliate site simply has links to profiles on the main singles site.
    • Either way, members are unaware that they are living a double virtual existence, unless they come across themselves on the dummy website, that is.

Closer to home, technology is extensively assisting advertisers who have split their marketing costs; ‘like’ companies, who may only be as alike as in ‘they are a business’, increase their (in)visibility by sharing an adspace – you click on one ad, multiple companies behind the banner get your information.

If you are a victim of unsolicited e-mail, sent from a new dating site’s list, there will be an option to ‘unsubscribe’ at the bottom of each e-mail you didn’t ask for (it may be well hidden!). Any company using a mailing list will employ an auto-responder to send their mail automatically for them.

If a single entity is repeatedly reported for sending spam (junk) e-mail, their service will be terminated.  Hit this to remove your name.  If the company persistin sending you mail, do mark the correspondence as spam.

True, it’s only a small step, but at least one in the right direction to getting your online identity back.