A catfish on the Internet is a cyber bully, and when someone is “catfished,” it means being tricked by a person who pretends to be someone he or she is not. Sometimes these bullies’ motives are financial gain and obtaining their victims’ personal information. Sometimes it’s simply a way for them to feel powerful and in control.
No matter the reason, the catfish phenomenon is real and dangerous. Using these simple tips, keep yourself safe from these deceivers as you navigate social networks, dating sites and even blog communities.
Don’t frequent sites that are havens for catfish unless you’re cautious. This includes sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and, of course, anonymous chat rooms. Posting many pictures of yourself and friends can give catfish information about where you spend time, who you know and what you enjoy.
While it isn’t necessarily a bad idea to share pictures and updates about yourself, make sure you utilize privacy options that limit those who can see the bulk of your information.
Search the Web
When you meet someone online, don’t take their word for who they say they are. Instead, do a Google search of the name they give you. Unless they’re brand new to the planet, you should find some search results in the form of a Facebook page, blogs, videos or other Internet media where they have appeared.
Be suspicious if you can find nothing when searching the name. If you get a bevy of results, try to glean enough information to determine if this person is actually the one in the photo or an impersonator. People who lie are typically vague in their answers and cannot provide specifics when asked intricate questions.
Keep up on Trends
The Internet is always changing, and as it changes so do dishonest predators who might deceive you. Because of this variable landscape, updates on catfish trends are essential for your protection. LifeLock.com is an identity theft prevention service that constantly monitors and updates the public on identity theft concerns, including catfishing. For more updates and tips on the nature of catfishing and how you can protect yourself, follow LifeLock on Facebook.
Initiate Real Time Contact
If distance or some other medium prevents the two of you from meeting, call and Skype regularly. If the person you are involved with avoids FaceTime dates or in-person meetings, or if your love interest cancels at the last minute for increasingly strange reasons, then this person may be a scammer.
While it may embarrass you to tell your friends about your unusual relationship, those outside this relationship will often have honest and accurate opinions. If your friends offer advice, take them seriously.
Meet in Public
Quite simply, you have to meet. There’s no way a relationship, whether it’s a friendship or romantic relationship, can last without meeting in the flesh. No matter how far away the person is, once things turn serious and several intense months or even a year have passed, try to meet this person. Only then will you truly know if he or she is real and honest.