Catfishing is a growing problem among online daters. It can be difficult to tell who is real and who is not, but you can avoid being scammed by an online catfish with a few simple tips. Always be careful about where you share your personal information, make sure to do your research on potential matches, and trust your gut instincts if something feels off. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be much less likely to fall victim to an online catfish scheme.
Tips for avoiding catfishing:
1. Protect your personal information.
Never give out your full name, age, or location on dating websites before you have met the person face-to-face. If a potential match is insistent about getting this information from you, it could be a sign that they are not real and simply fishing for that vital piece of data in order to pose as your online persona. Don’t give it to them! As an additional measure of safety, use a different phone number than the one you usually use to contact people online – this will make the culprit harder to track down if they do manage to steal your identity.
2. Research matches before meeting them face-to-face.
Most dating websites have a special tool that will help you learn more about a potential match. For example, on OkCupid, you can use the “Travelled in” and “Fave places” fields to see where your match went to school or which countries they have been to. On match, there is a section called “About Me,” where people often post their real names and detailed information about their lives. If someone has no social media presence whatsoever, it could be a sign that they are trying to hide something from you, so always double-check if they have any accounts that might yield personal information about them.
3. Trust your gut instincts.
If something seems off, it probably is! Always err on the side of caution when communicating with someone you haven’t met face-to-face. If they haven’t responded to your messages or are taking too long to chat with you, it may be because their account has been compromised by a catfish. A good way to test whether you’re dealing with the real deal is simply to ask them for something that only the real person would know – like an inside joke between the two of you or trivia about where they grew up. If they can provide this information, then there’s very little chance that they aren’t who they say they are!
4. Exercise caution on social media networks.
Many people post personal information on heavily trafficked social media sites which provides catfish easy access to valuable data, such as birthdays and hometowns. Fake Facebook profiles are also quite common, so never add anyone that you haven’t met in person as a friend. If you’re unsure about someone’s profile, send them a message with your phone number and ask them to call or text you. You can then use this information to find your match on the dating website and send them a link to their social media profiles (which will make it harder for them to pretend like they don’t exist).
5. Report suspicious activity.
If something doesn’t seem right or if things take a turn for the worse when communicating with someone online, always report it! There may be an innocent explanation, but in most cases, catfish are simply looking for naive people they can manipulate and trick into money or sharing personal information such as bank account information or photos. If you see any signs of this behavior, the best thing to do is report them immediately so that other people can be saved from the same fate!
Sometimes, an online catfish will find out your location and unexpectedly show up at your doorstep. If this happens to you, it’s important not to let them into your home. They could be dangerous if they think that their identity has been revealed! Also, always contact local authorities if things escalate during a meeting with someone who claims to be much younger than their age suggests. Catfishing isn’t illegal, but there are strict laws against soliciting money under false pretenses, which is why many scammers use this tactic to get cash off of unsuspecting daters.
Always be vigilant and follow these tips to avoid online catfishing scams. Remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!