Have you ever been talking to someone online and thought they were finally “The One”?
You know, the one who understands your dark sense of humor, likes all the same things as you, and they are smoking hot!
You exchange messages and photos and you’re convinced you’ve found your soulmate…
But then, one fateful day, you meet up with them in real life and they’re…not what you expected.
They don’t get your jokes, they have zero interest in the things you enjoy, and that perfect 10 is more like a 2 with a shit ton of makeup.
Congratulations, you’ve been catfished.
If you’ve ever been a victim of catfishing, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, one in five adults ages 25-34 have been catfished.
To help you avoid being catfished, we’ve put together a list of the best ways to spot and avoid a catfish.
What is Catfishing?
First, let’s clear up what Catfishing actually is. No. We’re not talking about the fish you catch with a rod and reel.
We’re talking about people who create false identities online to trick people into relationships.
They usually do this for one of three reasons:
- To scam someone out of money
- To get attention or validation
- Or because they’re simply bored.
Catfishers will often use photos of someone else (often someone attractive) and pretend to be them.
They will also create entire backstories and personas.
All of this is done with the intention of tricking someone into falling for them.
Which really sucks if you’re on the receiving end, so here’s a list of the top 6 ways to avoid it:
1. Don’t Be Naïve
This one should be pretty obvious, but unfortunately, it’s often the most overlooked.
When you’re talking to someone online, it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of who they are.
We create an image in our minds of who we want them to be, and we ignore the red flags that should be telling us they’re not being truthful.
Don’t be that person. If something feels off about the person you’re talking to, trust your gut.
2. Do Your Research
The first step to avoiding being catfished is to do your research.
If you’re talking to someone online and you’re getting a funny feeling about them, the best thing to do is a quick Google search.
You can type their name into Google and see what comes up.
If they’re catfishing you, there’s a good chance that their real name won’t come up at all.
If it does, you can see if there’s anything fishy going on.
Do A Reverse Image Search
Another way to research someone online is to do a reverse image search.
If you’re not familiar with a reverse image search, it’s basically when you take an image and search it on Google to see where else it appears.
This is a great way to see if someone is using someone else’s photos.
If you’re not sure how to do a reverse image search, you can Google it.
Just type “reverse image search” into Google and follow the instructions.
Or you can just go here and simple drag and drop the persons photo into the search bar. That’s it!
I also really like TinEye. TinEye is a free, web-based image search and recognition service. You can use it to find out where an image came from, how it’s being used, or to find higher quality or modified versions.
Look At Their Friends on Their Social Media Profiles
If someone’s social media profiles are full of photos of them and their friends, that’s a good sign.
It shows that they’re probably not a catfish.
On the other hand, if their profiles are full of photos of other people (especially attractive people of the opposite sex), that’s a red flag.
3. Be Wary of Anyone Who Is Reluctant to Meet in Person or Video Chat
The first and most obvious sign that someone may be catfishing you is if they avoid meeting up with you in person or video chatting with you.
There are a variety of reasons why someone might do this, but the most likely explanation is that they are not who they say they are.
They could be hiding their appearance, their age, or even their gender.
So, if someone you’re talking to online is reluctant to meet up with you or video chat, be wary.
A friend of mine was recently catfished by someone he met online.
They had been talking for a few weeks and things were going great.
They had a lot in common and he was really starting to like her.
But then she started making excuses as to why she couldn’t video chat with him.
First, it was because her phone camera was broken.
Then, it was because she didn’t have a good enough data connection.
Eventually, he got fed up and demanded to meet up with her in person.
When he showed up at their meeting spot, it was clear that she was not who she said she was.
She was actually a he. At least we all get a good laugh whenever he tells the story.
Just remember that if they’re constantly making excuses, run away!
4. Pay Attention to Red Flags
One of the best ways to avoid being catfished is to pay attention to the red flags.
Some of the most common red flags include:
- They’re always available: If someone is always available to talk or meet up, it’s probably because they’re not really busy. Be suspicious of someone who always has time for you.
- They’re evasive: If someone is evasive about answering simple questions, like what they do for a living or where they live, it’s a red flag.
- They’re too good to be true: If someone seems too good to be true, they probably are. If they’re super good looking, always have money, and are always in a great mood, be suspicious.
- They have a fake profile: If someone has a profile that looks like it’s been put together by a modeling agency, it’s probably because it has. Be wary of anyone with a flawless online presence.
5. Trust Your Gut
Trust your gut. Not your penis fellas.
If something feels off about the person you’re talking to, chances are it is.
You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re about to do something you know you shouldn’t? That’s your gut telling you to stop.
Your gut is always trying to protect you from danger, so if you get a bad feeling about someone, listen to it.
6. Be Careful with Your Personal Information
This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how much personal information people are willing to share online.
Scammers can use this information to create a fake profile that’s designed to make you fall in love with them.
Some of the information scammers commonly try to get includes your:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Credit Card #
- Banking Information
Don’t be so quick to share this information with someone you’ve only met online.
Don’t Send Money to Someone You Haven’t Met in Person
If asking for your personal information is a red flag, then asking for money is a clear sign of a scam.
No matter what their story is, no one you haven’t met in person has any business asking you for money.
If they say they need money for travel so they can come meet you, don’t fall for it.
In most cases, these scammers will take your money and you’ll never hear from them again.
If you are catfished, the best thing you can do is to report the user to the dating site or social media platform you were using.
Most platforms have procedures in place to deal with catfishers and other malicious users.
You should also reach out to a friend or family member for support. It can be difficult to deal with being catfished, and talking to someone you trust can help you process what happened.
Finally, try to learn from the experience. Be more cautious in your future online interactions and pay attention to red flags. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.