Online communication is becoming the norm, and many individuals choose to communicate with friends and family over the internet.
Apps like WhatsApp and Messenger make it simple and comfortable to stay in contact with old friends and meet new ones. Regrettably, they also make it simpler for bad actors to act out and wreak havoc.
Catfishing has been increasingly common in recent years, and it’s important to know how to avoid being a victim of it. Given how widespread it has become, the sooner you learn how to identify a catfish, the better.
What Is Catfishing?
Catfishing is the act of creating a fully phony online identity of oneself. You display bogus photos, as well as a phony name and occupation. You may even disclose fictitious preferences, likes, dislikes, and hobbies. Essentially, what you’ve posted for everyone to see is a lie. You’ve most likely come across false accounts on online dating apps, but they’re also widespread on social media.
There’s a potential that just elements of your online persona are bogus; in such circumstances, the phrase “kitten fishing” is more apt.
Catfishing has become quite easy because to social media and the ease with which you may get other people’s images. People are easily duped into accepting your bogus identity.
Even if you don’t use someone else’s photographs as a front, if you’re skilled with Photoshop, you may manipulate your own images to the point where they’re unrecognizable.
But what’s the purpose of all of this? People catfish for a variety of reasons.
Some people feel happier if the rest of the world doesn’t see their genuine self, so they opt to hide behind a more comfortable mask. Others have considerably less benign motivations and want to do harm—financial, emotional, or otherwise.
Related: What Is Catfishing and How Is It an Online Threat?
Catfishing, regardless of the other person’s motivation, may be very harmful. As a result, it’s critical to understand how to prevent oneself from being catfished.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to do that.
1. Ask for a Video Call
A video call is the simplest method to determine whether someone is genuine online. It eliminates their ability to hide behind a phony veneer.
FaceTime, Viber, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Skype are just a few examples of programs you may use to view someone in person.
If the person you’re speaking with refuses to video chat every time you bring it up, they might be catfishing you.
2. When Did They Last Post?
Tracking someone’s uploads is a fantastic technique to check whether they are who they claim they are.
No, you do not have to become a stalker. It’s just useful to keep track of when people submit photographs.
Is there a consistent publishing schedule? Do they, for example, avoid uploading selfies and only do so if you bring it up as weird that they don’t? Is their most recent picture post from the day they launched their profile?
Not everyone shares selfies on a daily basis, but if you’re the person you’re purporting to be online, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll publish photographs of yourself on a frequent basis.
It may be a red flag if they don’t.
3. Look Out for Red Flags and Trust Your Gut
When it comes to red flags, try your best to be on the lookout for them.
Many individuals have completely normal behavioral quirks and peculiarities. Some, on the other hand, should set up warning bells. If they’re purposefully unclear about personal data and refuse to meet up, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re being catfished.
Another indicator is how they interact with you. For instance, they may claim to be a specific age, but their writing style does not match. Someone may claim to be in their forties but use juvenile lingo or a slew of acronyms you’ve never heard of.
Related: Red Flags to Look for When Identifying and Avoiding an Online Dating Scammer
Trust your instincts if they do things that make you uncomfortable. Insist on video conferencing so you can see them face to face and confirm that they are who they say they are.
4. Google The Suspected Catfisher
A quick Google search will assist you determine whether or not this individual is who they claim to be.
Enter the name they gave you and see what comes up. Nowadays, many individuals have social media accounts or, at the absolute least, a LinkedIn profile that you can see.
Check to see whether the name, photograph, and information on these profiles correspond to what you know about them.
Although the name and profile photo may match, you may see postings with a significant other they’ve never mentioned before. Or you discover that the individual lives in an entirely different location from the one with whom you are conversing.
Such details may be quite useful in identifying a catfisher.
5. Reverse Image Search
You may reverse image search the photos you have in addition to Googling them.
They may have emailed it to you, or it may be the one used for the account on the app you’re interacting on, but it will work in any case.
It’s a quick process that can yield powerful results.
6. Stay Guarded Until You’re Sure It’s Not a Catfish
It’s critical not to provide any crucial information about yourself unless you’re convinced you’re not conversing with a catfish.
Tinder Commits to ID Verification to Combat Catfishing
Some catfishers prey on individuals for unscrupulous motives, such as obtaining personal information to utilize later for financial gain. Maybe they’ll attempt to breach your accounts, steal your financial information, and so on.
You never know what these guys are seeking, so it’s best to assume the worst and be vigilant.
It’s Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
Catfishing may be detrimental to your mental and emotional health, and in the worst-case situation, it can result in physical violence. That is why it is critical to stay secure and avoid being an easy victim for catfishes.
Catfishers prey on trusting, innocent people who prefer to see the good in others. When conversing with strangers online, though, it is best to remove the rose-colored glasses.
Even though it might be difficult at times while speaking with someone online, try to maintain your cool. That includes not getting too personal too soon, making sure you’re talking to the genuine deal, and trusting your instincts if anything looks wrong. Ignoring red signals will lead to disaster.
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