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Catfishing: What Online Daters Need to Know

Online Dating Tips
Lauren Topor
Written by Lauren Topor

Catfishing can happen to anyone. Any person can fall victim to this scam, especially those on online dating sites. Here’s what all online daters should know before logging on.

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Catfishing can happen to anyone. Any person can fall victim to this scam, especially those on online dating sites. Here’s what all online daters should know before logging on.

Falling in Love Online

Online dating is growing now, more than ever. According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, six percent of Internet users who are married or in a committed relationship met each other online. That percentage point is up by three points from three percent in 2005. Almost 60 percent of the people who were surveyed believe that online dating is a good way to meet someone. However, as the popularity of online dating grows, so do its dangers.

What Is Catfishing?

The term “catfish” refers to a person who’s intentionally deceptive online, whether on dating sites or on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. In many cases, the catfish uses fake photos and false information in the hopes of making a romantic connection.

Red Flags

If you think you’re being catfished online, you’re probably right. Be on the lookout for red flags. For example, if the person you’re talking to online constantly cancels plans to meet, he or she might be hiding something about their identity.

In some situations, the catfish will drop the “L word” right away. If you feel like things are moving too quickly and you’re starting to develop feelings for this person, but you’ve never met before, be cautious, because they just might be a catfish.

If the person you’re chatting up doesn’t want to videochat something might be up. Dating experts recommend meeting up with someone for a date after about a month of chatting online. If they’re unwilling to do so, move on.

Additionally, if you feel like aspects of this online persona’s identity are too good to be true or if their photos are too perfect to be real, trust your rational self and do some detective work. With a quick Google Image search you can determine if the photos are genuine or if they belong to someone else.

Protect Yourself Online

For many online daters, online safety is often overlooked. You might think “something like that would never happen to me” or “I know what to look out for.” But when it comes to love and developing feelings for someone, it’s easy to get caught up in your emotions. Scams can happen to anyone. Get help from trusted industry resources like LifeLock for educational information, identity theft news and online and offline safety tips. Knowing the risks and learning what to look out for can pay off in the long term.

Catfish Dangers

Catfishing doesn’t just cause heartbreak, it can cause some serious problems, too. Australia is experiencing a type of catfishing epidemic. Dating site eHarmony reports that Australian police estimate that Aussies send nearly $8 million to Internet scammers each month. In many of these cases the catfish is playing to the victims heartstrings, often coming up with elaborate stories of loss, whether it’s a death in the family, a sick child, a lost job or major illness. If someone you don’t know online is asking for money, trust your gut — they’re probably out to scam you.

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About the author

Lauren Topor

Lauren Topor

Lauren Topor is a lifestyle writer based in the Southwest who spends her days writing about food and health, fashion, fitness and entertainment.