How to protect yourself while online dating

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. One that is perhaps most important is meeting the person for the first time in a public place.

”It’s not safe to give all your information out right away,” said Millicent Allen, Memphis.

RELATED: 4 charged with attempted murder, kidnapping after luring man through dating app, Memphis police say

After learning a man was allegedly robbed, beaten, kidnapped and shot at after agreeing to meet a woman he met online, Millicent Allen said you can never be too cautious. She said she handled things differently in her own relationships.

”We spoke on the phone for a while. I didn’t give them my address, where I work, things like that,” said Allen.

Saftey precautions law enforcement analyst Mike Collins, a former lieutenant with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, recommended and encouraged others to take precautions.

”If you get to the point where you’re going to meet that person, always meet in a public place. Let your closest friend or relative know your location,” said Collins.

United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Joseph Murphy said this isn’t the first time online dates ended with people facing criminal charges.

”We’ve seen that before, where similar schemes have been used to carjack people, rob people, and set up rapes in some cases,” said Murphy.

Murphy suggests not only meeting a person for the first time in a public place, but several times after.

”Don’t go anywhere with them that isn’t public. So, if they say come home to my apartment with me, don’t do that,” said Murphy.

Collins also suggests people may want to consider carrying some form of personal protection with them on first dates, whether that be a gun or pepper spray.