One of the main reasons people join social media and dating apps is to connect and build relationships with others. Most people just assume that the people they talk with are there for the same reason. But, that is not always the case. As pointed out by the television show “Catfish”, created by Nve Schulman and Max Joseph, and the 2010 documentary “Catfish”, catfishing is a real and series issue those online need to look out for.
What Is Catfishing?
The term “catfishing”, refers to someone who has assumed a fake identity online in order to establish a relationship with another. Some of the most common reasons someone may do this is to have a romantic relationship with someone or to commit a criminal act like identity theft or stealing finances.
In the dating world, catfishing will usually occur on dating websites and apps. Otherwise, catfishers look for victims on social networking platforms and forums. To help you understand what catfishing is, here’s a clip from the “Catfish” television show.
Catfishing Facts and Statistics To Be Aware Of
- States With The Most Catfishing Victims (According To BestVPN):
- California – 1,761
- Texas – 1,089
- Florida – 1,085
- New York – 674
- Pennsylvania – 511
- The FBI reported that in 2016, about 15,000 romance scam complaints were made. Complaint loses totaled more than $230 million.
- Facebook and other social media sites are full of fake accounts. From January to March of 2018, Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts from its platform.
- There are many types of catfishers. The revenge seeker, best friend, person trying to catch their cheating partner, someone who’s bored or lonely, troublemaker, and more.
- It’s common for sexual predators to use catfishing to lure in young children online or through private messaging apps.
How To Avoid Being Catfished
Whether you are looking to avoid being the victim of a romance scam, identity theft, or some other criminal act, follow the tips below.
- Examine Their Profile(s) Closely
When meeting someone new, you should always look at their social media profiles and online dating profile (if applicable). There are a couple of key things to look for when doing so.
- Their profile includes little to no details. And if they do have information, it’s vague.
- Their profile picture looks like a stock photo.
- Overall, their profile seems too good to be true.
- For social media, see how many friends, photos, posts, etc. they have. If it’s on the lower side, that’s suspicious. Also, see if their friends are legit or just fake people as well.
- Google Image Search
Download a photo of the person you’re in touch with, and click and drag it into Google’s image search. If the person has any other online profiles, or perhaps the photo is fake, it will likely come up in the search.
- Background Check
If you have the other person’s phone number or name, you could do a reverse lookup. By just entering the information, you can find out who the number belongs to and more information about the person. See if the details the lookup reveals versus what the person is telling you match up.
- Video Chat With Them
If the person is a catfisher, they will likely try to avoid meeting you in person or talking with you via video chat. To see if they truly are a real person, really push to do a video chat/call with them.
- Avoid Giving Away Your Personal Information
To protect yourself from being a victim, avoid giving away any personal and private information about yourself. This includes your birthday, credit card numbers, where you live, email address, and so on. This information could help someone steal your money, access your online accounts, or steal your identity.
- Never Send Them Money
No matter how much you think you can trust the person, NEVER send them money. If anyone online asks you for money, that should automatically be a red flag for you that something’s wrong. Once you start giving them money, they will try to play on your sympathies and milk you for every penny you have.
Catfishing is something not to take lightly. Being the victim of a catfisher can lead to some serious real-life consequences. Just do your part to protect yourself from this online threat.