Online Dating: How to Spot a Catfish

Online dating has quickly become one of the most convenient and straightforward ways to meet new partners. But with online dating comes catfishing: when someone creates a false persona and tricks others into believing they are someone they aren’t. In this article, we discuss our best tips for spotting and avoiding catfish while swimming in the online dating pool.

Catfishing 101

If you haven’t seen the show on MTV, catfishing is an online deception where someone creates a false persona to mislead others. They use misleading photos and incorrect information to lull victims into an unrealistic sense of security. The goal is often to convince people to send money, share personal details, or meet in person – and hope to keep them on the date even though they look different than online.

Red Flags to Look For

Catfishing may be challenging to detect, but here are a few signs that the person you’re talking to might not be who they say they are.

Their Profile Is Vague  

Catfishers tend to have vague or incomplete profiles. If they are using another person’s photos, they may only have a few images.

They Avoid Video Calls

Catfishers tend to avoid video calls and find excuses why they can’t chat on video. This is to protect their identities and stay anonymous.

They Ask You for Money 

Catfishers may seek money or personal information such as your address or Social Security number. They may even request intimate photos and videos to blackmail you.

They Have Crazy Stories 

Catfishers tend to fabricate elaborate lies to conceal their identities and may avoid answering questions about themselves. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

They’re Pushy

Catfishers often urgently want to meet in person or send money quickly. They could use pressure tactics to get you to do things you aren’t comfortable with.

How to Avoid a Catfish

Now that you know how to identify a catfish, here are some strategies for protecting yourself.

Trust Your Gut

If something doesn’t feel right, follow your gut and trust it.

Research Them 

Before engaging with anyone online, do your research. Google their name to see if information exists. You can also perform a reverse image search of their profile pictures to check whether they belong to someone else or are stock imagery (pro tip from Catfish: The TV Show).

Use Reliable Dating Sites 

Look for sites with excellent screening tactics. Some provide additional safeguards, such as background checks and verification processes to detect catfish.

Don’t Share Personal Information 

Never reveal personal details like your address or Social Security number. If someone pressures you for this information, take that as a red flag.

Video Chat 

When you meet someone online, always video chat with them before you get too deep. If they’re being shady and have too many excuses, run the other way!

Take It Slow

Spend time getting to know someone before meeting in person or sharing personal details. Do not rush into any decision or allow others to pressure you into something you do not feel is right for you!


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