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Is Online Therapy a Scam or is it Legit?

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

As online therapy solutions rise in popularity, there is an increasing number of people who are interested in using such services but don’t want to fall prey to scams. There are so many scams online out there that many people find it difficult to sign up with any online service, let alone one that requires you to input your personal details and payments details.

We are happy to reassure interested parties that, generally speaking, online therapy websites are legitimate and aren’t a scam. While criminals can create fraudulent / scam online therapy sites, known online therapy providers are certified and kosher. 

Is Any And All Therapy a Scam to Begin With?

Many people believe that while therapy is not an outright “scam”, it is not an effective means of treatment, but scientific researches have refuted that notion by showing an effectiveness of approximately 70%.

Is Online Therapy Specifically a Scam?

Some people also believe that while face-to-face therapy can be effective, online therapies aren’t a legit way of performing a therapy. We wrote a full-fledged article about is online counseling effective and similarly to the above query regarding the effectiveness of therapy as a whole, it was scientifically disproved that online therapy isn’t as effective.

How to Make Sure an Online Therapy Website is Legit?

While we established the fact that online therapy isn’t a scam, it doesn’t mean that every single online therapy website out there is legit. There are scams in almost every product and service, online and off the internet, and it’s important to know how to identify legitimate online therapies from scams.

These are the best things to look for when verifying a certain website is legit:

  • Reputable company
  • Secure website and payment
  • Many years in operation
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Customer reviews

You can read our reviews which contain all the above information or do your own research instead.

Reputable Company

For legit online therapy websites there’s a credible, known, company behind them working in full transparency. For example, BetterHelp is owned by Teledoc, a publicly traded giant that specializes in telemedicine.

Secure Website and Payments

Using a browser like Google Chrome you can easily know if your connection is secure when inserting personal details or making payments.

Many Years in Operation

While there could be legitimate new online therapy companies, the longer a company has been operating, the safer it is.

HIPAA Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a standard that is meant to maintain the privacy of patients. You should only deal with companies which are HIPAA compliant.

Customer Reviews

The easiest way to know how a company has been dealing with its customers is to simply look for customer reviews online. While these could be faked, if they appear on legitimate review websites and have some sort of minimal volume (hundreds or thousands of reviews) it gives a good indication about the legitimacy of a company.

What to Look Out For When Assessing if an Online Therapy is a Scam?

There are some online therapy that used to be very legit like Rethink my therapy which have simply closed down. At a certain point in time, a scammer could buy their domain name and start an online therapy scam – that’s why it’s important to google each of the companies you are considering using prior to signing up with them.

Scams Targeting Therapists

Online therapy scams aren’t necessarily going to target clients. There are also scams targeting therapists such as fake customers who approach therapists telling them they are in town for vacation and want to book a session.

They make out a check to pay for their services but then ask for a partial refund for whichever reason (have to cut session short or cancel it normally), then after receiving the refund, the therapist would learn that the original check has bounced.