6 Ways To Avoid Being Catfished (And How To Catch One Red-Handed)

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Heartbreak

In the age of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr, and many others, it's become increasingly easy for scammers to pretend to be someone they're not — which is why it's so important to know how to avoid being catfished.

The term became popularized by Nev Schulman's documentary "Catfish," in which a woman's husband likens those who take on another identity to seduce people online to catfish in a vat with cod.

RELATED: 3 Major Red Flags That You’re Being Catfished

Getting catfished can happen to anyone at any time, but is more of a risk for people who are consistently using online dating sites. Even the Netflix series "Clickbait" has a lot of people talking about the phenomenon of catfishing, which seems to be a cruel side-effect of our highly online modern lives.

A survey found that one in three people have been catfished and that a huge number of victims are duped into sending money or sexually explicit photos, with 20% of people sending money to catfishers. 

Usually, dating apps will have precautions and warnings when it comes to catfishes, but it’s easy to get caught up in the person and ignore the warning signs

6 Tips On How To Avoid Being Catfished

1. Do your research 

Before continuing to talk to anyone who is messaging you online, don’t be afraid to do a little bit of snooping around. "Some profiles may appear more vulnerable than others, and therefore invite more fake suitors," says Anne Papayoti, a relationship & wellness coach. 

Check their dating profiles to make sure it’s legitimate. Maybe even Google their name to see if that person has any social media accounts or anything that can prove they are the person they claim to be.

2. Use reverse Google image search

This is probably the easiest and fastest way to spot a catfish. 

Taking one of the pictures they’ve used on their dating profile and copying and pasting it into the box on Google images can easily confirm if their photo matches up with their profile, or if an entirely different person pops up — which is an immediate red flag.

3. Meet face-to-face

Asking to meet up in a public place or even video chatting can rule out if the person you’re talking to is real or fake.

Usually, people who are catfishing will try to make excuses for not wanting to meet, and if they aren’t interested in face-to-face interaction, the probability of them being a catfish is significantly high.

If they were looking for something real, they'd want an in-person relationship as well.

4. Protect your personal information

Even if you can’t stop a catfish right away, it’s still important to never reveal intimate and private information regarding your personal life and details. The person you are talking to is still a stranger, and shouldn’t know any details about you that can lead to dangerous situations.

Keep everything private, including your social media accounts, because if anything is public it is just another way for a catfish to gain access to all of your information.

5. Ask your friends for their opinion

Usually, when it comes to romantic relationships, we have our rose-colored glasses on. Your friends are always the people that you can trust the most and can be extremely objective when it comes to pointing out those red flags.

If your friends see something that is concerning, chances are you should listen to them.

6. Trust your gut

If you’re in a situation that you can tell feels a little bit off, chances are that feeling is the truth. "The master catfisher will come on strong, lovebombing, showing empathy and creating a strong impression that fate brought you together," Papayoti says. 

If you have more cons than pros, and that lingering feeling of suspicions, trust that instinct. Don’t ever second guess yourself.

RELATED: The 10 'Golden Rules' For Staying Safe When Online Dating

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3 Ways To Catch A Catfish

1. Ask to meet in person

Usually, if you’re talking to someone on a dating app, there will always come a point where they want to meet face-to-face.

If the person keeps dodging calls, video chats, or attempts to meet in a public place, chances are they are a catfish.

2. Ask about the people in their life

If someone you’re talking to doesn’t bring up at least one person in their life or rarely talks about their family/friends, that can also be a warning sign. Especially if they never talk about introducing you to people in their life if the relationship is getting serious.

The turning point in any relationship is talking about meeting your partner’s family, their friends, bringing them into your life. If that conversation isn’t happening, unfortunately, you might be getting catfished.

3. They ask for money

Catfish usually have an agenda in mind when targeting people, and it usually has to do with money. If someone you’re talking to online is asking for you to send them money, and you haven’t even met them in person, that is a huge warning sign that you are being used.

If you find yourself in a catfishing situation, your best solution is to call the person out and report their profile.

Even though these tips can greatly lower your chances of being catfished, it can still happen to many people. 

Always keep your guard up, and trust your gut in any situation. Online dating may be the fastest way to meet people, but it can also be the most dangerous.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Avoid Weirdos While Online Dating

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.