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Protect yourself against online dating scams and sexual assault risks

Protect yourself against online dating scams and sexual assault risks

Here’s the quiz:  You’re arranging a first date with someone you’ve met online. You’ve exchanged lots of emails and feel comfortable online with the person. For a first meeting, the person wants you to meet at their parked car behind the store where they work in the evening after the store closes. The person says you two will go to a nice dinner together from there. What’s your response?

Answer:  Red flags should be going up here. That sounds like an obscure location where no one else may see you. That could spell trouble. Don’t do it! Remember: there’s a chance that someone who seems very nice online could be a predator in reality.

With the rise in online dating, there have also been incidents of sexual assault occurring when a victim meets someone for the first time or very early in a relationship in an obscure or private location. One such assault occurred this past year in Lakewood. With that in mind, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Lakewood urge residents who use online dating services to remember to follow commonsense tips. Some of these tips are also important for protecting yourself from online dating scams that can be used to trick you out of your money.

Safety tips for online dating:

• Meet up safely in a public place--and let a friend know where and when you’ll be meeting your date
• Trust your intuition
• Set expectations
• Be your own detective
• If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn't true
• Protect your online identity and keep personal information private
• For more details, see a video from an online safety seminar given by the Sheriff’s Department.

Many people have successfully used online dating websites to find romance in their lives, but you need to be careful and safe too.