The term “catfished” might be relatively new, but the possibility of getting duped on the internet has been around for a while. The concept of catfishing became more recognized and feared by millions when MTV’s documentary turned TV Show, “Catfish,” aired in 2012. Catfish was eye opening for many, especially people who use Facebook, Instagram, or dating sites to meet people. It’s so easy to hide behind a screen and to make a false identity with fake pictures and information. Because of this issue’s relevance, we think it’s important for you all to know ways to avoid getting catfished on social media and dating sites. While nothing can guarantee that you won't be duped by a fake person on the internet, these ten tips will definitely help.
1. Google Them.
It’s no secret that everything you do on the internet is traceable, and one of the easiest ways to find the most information at once about someone is by googling them. All social media accounts, websites, and blogs will come up that’s associated to the person’s name. We suggest googling the person to see if anything positive or negative comes up. If the only thing that comes up is the site you met them on (for example, their Facebook account), then this could be a red flag. We’re not saying that just because the person you’re talking to has only one social media or dating account that automatically means they’re fake. But keep in mind that in 2015 most people have numerous social media accounts, and if they don’t, it could mean something. Take it one step further by Google image searching their photo URLS. The search results will show you if the images are being used on multiple websites.
2. Demand some face to face time.
Whether it’s having a Skype session, face timing, or better yet - meeting in person, make sure you ask for some face to face time. This is the most common way that catfishers avoid being caught. They’ll make every excuse in the book not to have any face time because they obviously aren’t the person they’re claiming to be. If your online hookup refuses to have offline time or keeps coming up with excuses, this should be a huge red flag. End things if more than a month goes by without any face to face verification. If you want to take it one step further and guarantee they’re the same person as their pictures, get some photo proof. Have them take a picture with the day’s newspaper or their drivers license. This might seem over the top, but if they genuinely have nothing to hide it shouldn’t be an issue for them.
3. Be wary of the super hot models.
If the only pictures on their social media and dating accounts are professional, airbrushed, modelesque photos, beware. It’s easy for anyone to get a bunch of a real, relatively unknown model’s photos from the internet and using them for themselves. If they don’t have any “normal” looking pictures or pictures with other people, this should be a huge warning sign. And let’s get back to the super hot thing. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the chances of a super hot, rich model starting an online relationship with an average Joe is simply unrealistic. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
4. If they ask you for money, get out.
Even if the person isn’t fake, you should never give someone you meet on the internet money. These people will try and fool you with a sob story after you’ve built some rapport and feelings, and if you’re a sympathetic or gullible person, you might be coerced into giving them money. Whether it’s that they have a sick relative, or just got fired, or they swear it’s a loan- just don’t. Make sure that under no circumstances do you give them money.
5. Tell people about the situation.
The best of us can get blinded by love, lust, and the desire to be in a relationship. Because of this, sometimes you can’t see the huge, flashing signs that say “THIS ISN’T REAL.” You should talk to your friends or family about the situation to get an unbiased, third person perspective about the situation. In fact, you should tell the people you’re closest to everything about the situation. They’ll be able to give you some insight and make you aware of things that you might have been blind to before.
5. Look at the interactions on their social media accounts.
First off, if they have less than 100 friends on Facebook, you should be skeptical> Additionally, do they have people commenting on their pictures and posts? Do they have people “liking” their pictures and posts? If not, this should be a sign that they’re not real. It’s typical for friends and family to comment and interact with each other online. If you see none of this, it’s not a good sign.
6. Use common sense and be honest with yourself.
At the end of the day, you need to take a good hard look at the person in the mirror. Are you really falling for this person or are you just desperate? Desperation happens to everyone at one point or another, and it’s important to admit it and recognize it, especially in this situation. Coming to terms with the fact that you’re judgment might become clouded because of your desire to be in a relationship can help you begin to use more of your senses. Trust your gut, and above all else, use common sense. If it seems fishy, it probably is.