Finding love online has become the norm with many single people meeting their future spouses on internet dating sites. The dating sites are designed to make it easy to connect with other members and hopefully start a lifelong relationship. However, not everyone online is who they say they are resulting in some people getting catfished by others on dating sites. In some cases, the catfishing can lead to identity theft or loss of substantial amounts of money to an online love interest.
Red flags to watch out for on dating websites
Millions of people looking for love online have been catfished by strangers who promised to love them forever. Some women have imagined themselves getting married to African princes that were seeking ordinary women that would see beyond their “royal” status. Before they know it, they are sending money to a fictional person. The best way to avoid being catfished is to be aware of warning signs that these fraudsters use to gain your trust and eventually steal your money. Some of these signs include:
- No photo on online profile
Most online dating sites require members to upload a picture as part of their profile and give a brief description of themselves. If your potential date has no picture or a single photo that is blurry or one that covers their face, they may not be the real person behind the photo. You could ask for more pictures to see if they resemble the photo on their profile to confirm if they are trustworthy.
- Poor grammar or spelling
First impressions matter when looking for a date online resulting in most people taking their time to craft a well-written description so that they can attract the right person. If the description on the profile has major mistakes in grammar or spelling it might be the person is looking for an easy catch. Also, they may be from a foreign country and English is not their first language, which may also be a sign of someone looking to catfish.
- Vague information on the personal profile
Majority of the questions asked on online profiles help potential mates learn more about the person they are seeking to connect with. Profiles with one-word answers where detailed information is required should be a concern to you. If reading their profile leaves you confused and unable to figure out the way forward, you should not bother contacting them.
- Avoids video chatting
If you have been messaging each other and are talking about taking it to the next level but you are still unsure if they are only catfishing; you may need to ask for a video chat. If they suddenly have excuses and cannot make time to chat through video, they are likely scamming you.
- No social media links
Social media has become a great way to find out more about someone you have met on a dating site. However, if there is no trace of your potential date on social media sites, you may need to tread carefully. If unable to find anything on the sites, ask them to share their social media handles and see how they respond before making a final decision.
Tips to protect yourself from being catfished
No one enjoys being taken advantage of and losing their money in the process. To minimize your chances of getting catfished, you need to learn how to protect yourself online. Some of the ways you can safeguard yourself online are:
- Background check on potential dates
It is essential to do some research on the person you are communicating with online before things start becoming serious between the two of you. You need to find out if the information they have shared is accurate before opening up further. The best place to start is online search engines such as Google which offers a lot of information on individuals. You can also consider using online background checkers which reveal more data about individuals. Some of these sites are more thorough than others, but you could try beenverified vs peoplefinders for a start.
- Limit personal information
The less information you share about your own life with a stranger online, the better. Ensure that you do not reveal your home address, work address, phone number or birthday during your conversations. Such information is a goldmine for someone seeking to catfish you and steal your identity. If possible avoid displaying such information on your profile or public forums where strangers can easily access them.
- Never send money
Majority of online scammers seek to manipulate their victims by making them feel sympathy for them. They may talk about a sick child that needs their medical expenses paid or ask for money to sort out an urgent business deal that will be refunded, of course. If you are communicating with someone online and they start requesting financial assistance, cut them off immediately to avoid being catfished.
- Trust your gut
If you have been talking with someone online and you cannot shake off the feeling that they are not genuine, trust your instincts. Online scammers are getting smarter by the day and can create an entirely new life and persona to catfish unsuspecting people. Pay attention to any uneasy feelings you may experience while communicating with them and scrutinize every information they give you. If the feeling persists, consider breaking off the communication as early as possible.
- Discuss with friends or family
If you suspect you are being catfished, consider sharing your concerns with family members or friends close to you. Most times, they will help evaluate the situation and give feedback from an unbiased position. It is important to consider their input especially if the majority think you are in danger and make a decision on whether to continue engaging online or stop immediately.
Overall, letting a stranger into your life requires a lot of consideration and care if you are to avoid getting catfished. It is always important to take the initiative and protect yourself online.