The motivation for people lying about their identity can vary from boredom to revenge, they may be seeking what they consider to be entertainment or trying to fool you for financial gain.
There are obvious techniques for protecting yourself when physically meeting somebody such as going to a public place and taking mutual friends but how do you ensure the person your talking to is actually the person you think they are?
What does catfish mean?
Catfish is a term used to describe somebody who lies about their online identity, you are most likely to hear the word catfish when talking about online dating
Here’s our 5 simple tips to protect yourself against catfish
1. Use Phone Calls/Facetime – Speaking to somebody over the phone can be a great first step in confirming somebodies identity, it doesn’t guarantee they are as slim as their photographs but it is a start. Phone calls can also show a much more realistic side to somebody as the conversation flows naturally where as text conversations can be separated by minutes or even hours that allow the other person to calculate their answers.
Things to consider when speaking to somebody on the phone:
– Are they male/female?
– Do they have the accent you expected?
– Do they sound about the right age?
2. Check Social media profiles – Social media can provide a wealth of information and if you met this person on a dating site you may be able to identify their profile through mutual friends or their pictures even if they have restricted privacy settings.
Things to consider when looking at somebodies social media profile:
– Do they have a very small number of friends?
– Was their profile created recently? (look to see when their oldest post was)
– Are their friends from the area they claim to be from?
– Do they have a lack of engagement on their posts?
– Is anybody tagged in any of their group photographs?
3. Choose which apps you use – Choosing to use Whatsapp rather than Kik means you need a mobile phone number to speak to somebody rather than just a username, Catfish usually try to avoid giving out phone numbers as speaking over the phone may reveal their identity. If you want to send photos/videos to each other then use Snapchat as it shows the photo was taken by the person sending it to you and it was taken recently. If somebody sends you a photograph via iMessage or WhatsApp you have no guarantee that the picture was taken recently or even if it was taken by the same person.
– You can send photographs or open a text chat in snapchat, if somebody is sending pictures in the text chat they may not have been taken recently as they can be sent from your photo library
– A phone number is often enough for a ‘reverse lookup’ and may provide valuable information about the person you are talking to
4. Never send money under any circumstances. Financial gain is the motive behind many cases of online fraud. You should never be sending money or goods to somebody you haven’t met unless it is entirely your decision. People are often socially engineered (tricked) into showing their wealth or how much they care by sending money or goods to somebody online.
Things to look out for:
– Asking to borrow money
– Elaborate reasons they need the money such as illness or family trouble
– Elaborate reasons why the money can’t be sent direct to them
– Being pressured into buying a gift
5. Question why they avoid meeting in person – Have you tried to meet up with this person and been given an excuse or found they have had a reason to cancel multiple times?
People get a false sense of security when they arrange to meet up with somebody because they think ‘well they can’t have anything to hide or they wouldn’t want to meet me’. This is a common technique catfish use to build trust because simply the intention to meet up can be enough to remove some doubt from your mind.
Things to look our for:
– Unfortunate reasons for last minute cancellations
– Convenient excuses that they are working out of the country or city for a long period of time
– Repeated illness
It may not be obvious why the person you are speaking to has lied about their identity initially or ever, trust your gut instinct and don’t be pressured into doing something you are uncomfortable doing.