Meeting people online has become increasingly common, whether it’s for dating, socializing, or networking. While the internet offers a convenient platform to connect with new people, it also opens the door to potential deception. The term “catfish” became popular due to the popular MTV show “Catfish: The TV Show,” which investigates and exposes online deception in various relationships.

It serves as a warning to verify the authenticity of people you meet in the digital world to protect yourself from potential scams and deceit. So, how do we catch a catfish?

Catfish-Like Profile Pictures

One of the most common catfish tactics is using unrealistically attractive photos to lure potential victims. Catfish often create profiles with pictures that seem too good to be true, and that’s usually right. If you come across a profile where the person looks like they’ve walked out of a fashion magazine, be cautious. It’s not that stunning individuals don’t exist, but overly perfect and professionally edited photos are a strong indication of potential deception. To verify the authenticity of their pictures, consider using a reverse image search tool, like Google Image Search, to see if those images appear anywhere else online.

Vague or Inconsistent Personal Information

Catfish often provide limited or conflicting personal information in their profiles. They might avoid discussing their background, such as their family, job, or where they live. While it’s generally not a good idea to provide too much personal information online, if someone you’re talking to consistently avoids sharing anything that proves their authenticity, it’s a red flag. Inconsistent stories and evasive responses can be a sign that they’re not who they claim to be.

Refusal to Video Chat or Meet in Person

One of the most revealing signs of a catfish is their refusal to video chat or meet in person. While there may be valid reasons for not meeting up right away, such as safety concerns or distance, if the person you’re talking to continuously avoids video calls or in-person meetings, it’s time to question their authenticity. Video chatting can help confirm that the person you’re talking to matches the photos and persona they’ve curated online.

Rapid Progression of the Relationship

Catfish often try to make their targets feel special and secure. They may express deep feelings and affection very early on, pushing the relationship to advance quicker than usual. If you feel like the connection is moving way too fast, with declarations of love or promises of a future together in a short period, be cautious. Genuine relationships typically take time to develop, and catfish may rush things to avoid being exposed.

Consistently Avoiding Phone Calls

Another telltale sign of a catfish is avoiding talking on the phone. While some people have legitimate reasons for not using the phone, such as hearing or speech impairments, if the person you’re talking to always avoids phone calls, it’s a cause for concern. Catfish often prefer written communication to avoid revealing their true identity through their voice. If they’re genuinely interested in you, they should be willing to engage in a phone conversation at some point.

Request for Financial Assistance

Catfish often resort to the emotional manipulation of their victims, leading to financial exploitation. They might create elaborate stories about financial hardships, medical emergencies, or other crises and ask for money or gifts. Be extremely cautious if someone you’ve met online starts requesting financial assistance. Never send money or personal information to someone you haven’t met in person or know and trust.

Trust Your Instincts

Your intuition is a powerful tool when it comes to being online. If something about a person or their actions feels off, don’t ignore it. Trust your gut instincts and proceed with caution. It’s also a good idea to verify the information and details provided by the person you’re talking to. Ask for additional photos, social media profiles, or other forms of verification to confirm their identity.

Catfish season is ongoing in the digital world, and being aware of these seven signs can help you protect yourself from deception. While not everyone online is a catfish, it’s essential to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of individuals you meet. Online connections can be meaningful and lead to genuine relationships, but ensuring your safety and well-being should always be a top priority. Stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and practice safe online interactions to navigate the digital world with confidence.