How to avoid being catfished online
It is very disappointing when you meet someone who turns out to be completely different than they appeared online. It can be even more difficult to pick out catfishers. These tips for identifying them can help you avoid being catfished.
What is Catfishing?
Catfishers can be anyone claiming to be someone they are not. Sometimes they are after money. Other times, they seek personal information or emotional fulfilment at the expense of others. At the end of the day, it’s clear catfishers are lying for personal gain.
Catfishing can be elaborate,\; people who partake in it may set up elaborate identities across multiple sites. People posing as someone else may be using another’s name or pictures. They may pretend to have an association with someone you know, or a group you affiliate with in order to gain your trust.
Learn to Avoid Being Catfished
Catfishers can target anyone and can be very good at what they do. Luckily, there are some things you can do to avoid being catfished. These tips will assist you in identifying catfishers and help instruct you in using resources available to you.
When someone messages you out of the blue with an offer to save you money, or make you money, this should set off red flags. If a person you have never met asks for money, it’s a good tip off you may be the target of a catfisher.
Use the Tools of the Networking Site
Remember that social networking accounts can be faked. This could even mean the catfisher can set up a seemingly cohesive identity across multiple websites. But there are ways to use features of these sites to see if someone’s claims do not line up with their identity.
These networking sites usually offer information about people seeking access to your inner sanctum. Profiles offer information input by a user and sometimes the option to link other accounts. This information can be faked, but mutual friends or connections to Facebook friends on sites like Tinder are more difficult to build if the person is not who they say they are. Also be on the lookout for people with multiple social networking accounts using the same photos or names.
Before accepting a friend request or responding to a new follower who reaches out to you, check their affiliations. On Facebook, do you have any mutual friends? Have others you talked to on Twitter interacted with them? If the answer is no, they may be lying about who they are.
Exploit your Online Capabilities
Luckily, there are things you can do to verify someone’s identity. The internet is full of tools to interact with other people. Use them! One proactive thing you can do is offer to Skype or Facetime for face to face interaction.
If you are unsure about someone, ask if they can video chat with you, especially if they are reticent to meet in person. Remember, pictures can be pulled off an image search, but real time video is hard to fake. Be especially suspicious if someone offers to chat, but says their camera video is not working and can only provide voice interaction.
After talking to someone online, there is a natural progression toward meeting in person. Part of the fun of reaching out to people on social networking, after all, is the opportunity to meet new people. This is also a good way to screen someone you have been talking to for a while or who is asking for money or other information. It is important you remain aware even after a meeting has been set.
For a first in person interaction, pick somewhere public. It is important this location is somewhere you both feel comfortable. If someone is contacting you on a dating site from too far away to meet up, it’s a good indication they are not who they say they are. Especially if you have never interacted with them before.
Use the Professionals
Even our best efforts can leave us vulnerable to being catfished. After all, we do not want to assume those reaching out to us are lying, but it is important stay on top of suspected catfishing situations. When you have become suspicious someone is lying about their identity for personal gain, it may be time to reach out to a third party.
There are websites and services at your disposal to check someone’s identity. For instance, the online resource Social Catfish will check the background of those you meet online for you. This service will compile information on someone’s online presence for you, helping to verify whether they are who they claim to be. The website also provides further tips for avoiding catfishers.
What to Do When You Identify a Catfisher
It can be hurtful to find out you are being catfished. However, be sure to keep a cool head so that you can safely remove yourself from the situation without becoming vulnerable. After identifying someone lying to you about their identity, be sure to block the catfisher on all social networking sites that they may use to have access to you.
Before blocking, it may also be a good idea to report the offending user to the site they are using to target people. This is especially true if they are harassing you or attempting to trick people out of money or personal information. It is advantageous to most sites’ reputation and culture that these people are stopped. Most importantly, if a crime has been committed, report it to the authorities.
You may feel emotionally harmed, and possibly be financially affected after becoming the target of a catfisher. Try to remember that many who catfish are very good at what they do and that anyone can be a victim. Don’t let a negative experience ruin your search for love and friendship, but always remain savvy and use your common sense when interacting with individuals online. Above all, trust your gut instinct and check someone out before it becomes a problem.