What to Do If You Think You’re Being Catfished

Our dating advice team has written a great guide to recognizing dating site scammers. There is another kind of scam that you’ll want to watch out for when you enter into the world of online dating: catfishing.

What Is Catfishing?

“Catfishing” is a term that means enticing someone into a relationship online using a false persona. It comes from the title of the 2010 movie about a filmmaker who falls in love with a girl online, only to discover she’s not who she says that she is. It was later made into a television series for MTV that helped people in online relationships track down their love interests to see if they are who they say they are in real life.

Why Do People Do It?

To really understand why people catfish other people, we’d need a lot more room than one blog post! There are probably a lot of psychological and sociological reasons behind the phenomenon. In short, though, a lot of people do it because they are lonely and this is a way to connect with others. They may be unhappy in their current relationships but don’t want to break it off, or they may feel that no one would love the person they truly are inside, so they invent a new one. In most cases, catfishing isn’t done with malicious intent, but it can have disastrous emotional results. In other cases, catfishing may occur to gain your trust and scam money out of you.

What to Do If You Think It’s Happening to You

If you suspect that you are being catfished by someone you are talking to on an online dating site, there are some things you can do to verify your suspicions.

Google Is Your Friend

If you’ve ever googled your own name, you know the power of the search engine. Papers you wrote in college might pop up, your meetup groups, a comment that you left on a hobby site ten years ago, etc. If it happened online under your name, it’s still out there. It should be for your romantic interest, too. Google their name and see what pops up for social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as the other internet trails most of us leave behind. If you aren’t finding anything, that should be a big warning sign that you need to walk away.

Ask to Video Chat

Most catfishers don’t use their real photos because they are counting on the privacy of the computer screen to protect them. Ask them to video chat. If they refuse or continue to make excuses as to why they can’t do it, that’s a sure sign you are being catfished and need to move on.

Reverse Image Search Their Photos

Head over to Google image search and drop their photo into the search bar. Google will bring up all the photos that are a close match to the one you’ve been provided. That could prove that the photo they sent you doesn’t belong to them at all, and could even give you the name of the person it really belongs to.

Above All, Trust Your Instincts

If you suspect you are being catfished, you probably are right. If you aren’t ready to call it quits with the person just yet, though, at least take precautions about the information that you share with them. Don’t give out your last name, address, or other personal information they could use to find you. Absolutely do not give into requests for money. If after a little while they still can’t prove that they are who they say they are, you need to stop communication with them entirely. Move onto someone who wants to share their life with you--their real life.

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