The Vancouver Police Department has launched a new safety campaign aimed at those looking for love online.
"We've compiled tips on catchyou.ca, that offer information on how users can reduce the likelihood they will become victims of assault or fraud," said Const. Anne-Marie Clark.
In recent years, police say they've seen an increase in the number of sexual assault reports that were initiated through online dating or social media.
"He may sound like your soulmate but he is still a stranger," said Det.-Const. Michelle Grandbois.
"Take control of your safety online and reduce the chances of meeting somebody that is nothing like you were expecting," she said.
Grandbois said no particular web site is worse or safer than any other.
Online Dating Safety Tips
- Provide as little personal information as possible on your profile
- Choose a profile picture that you haven't used anywhere else online — it prevents them from doing a Google image search and finding out other information about you
- Arrange to meet in a public place away from where you live
- Tell a friend where you've gone, who you're meeting and pass along any contact information you have of the person
- More tips on catchyou.ca
'Women at higher risk'
"Particularly on dating sites, women, are finding themselves at higher risk of sexual assault, violent crimes and fraud," said Grandbois.
She was also quick to point out that these crimes were not the fault of the victims.
"I would never call it a mistake that a women makes," she said.
"This is a legitimate thing. Lots of people meet online, on dating sites, and it's unfortunate predators have found this out, and it's a perfect platform for them to look through and basically select potential victims," she said.
The VPD said it has a strong suspicion these crimes are being under-reported and says it's why it launched the campaign on Wednesday, urging victims to come forward.
"It's never too late to report any crime to the police," said Grandbois.
"We want to hear from victims, so they can access the resources and help prevent others from being victimized," she said.
"We can't help what we don't know ... please come forward and report to police."