How Not to Get “Catfished”

The world of online dating offers plenty of wonderful opportunities to meet compatible people. However, it also leaves you vulnerable to the phenomenon of “catfishing.” The term (which comes from a remarkable 2010 documentary and a compelling MTV show) refers to individuals who create elaborate false identities, luring unsuspecting victims into fraudulent online relationships that sometimes last for years. It’s heartbreaking and alarming to think that the gorgeous guy or girl you’re talking to may be nothing more than mirage projected by someone unstable or sadistic, but don’t let that put you off online dating. Here’s what you need to know about how to avoid being catfished.

Monitor plausibility

Some people who catfish are using their false online identity to do something akin to living out their dream lives. As a result, it’s smart to look out for ridiculous life stories that just don’t seem realistic. Are you talking to a supermodel, a powerful member of government or an individual with a 100 page CV of personal tragedies? If so, strongly consider the possibility that you are being duped.

Look for evasive attitudes

Be very wary if you notice that someone is unwilling to provide more than just a few photos of themselves or is constantly evading any attempt to meet in person. Even if you are not being catfished, someone who tries to avoid a personal meeting will almost definitely have something else to hide (often a spouse).

Do your research

Search around to see if this person’s alleged identity seems legitimate. For example, you should be able to find a departmental profile of someone who claims to be a college professor. It’s also worth browsing through the images that come up when you enter the person’s name and location. While nothing is foolproof, it is particularly useful if your contact will happily connect with you using Facebook or another social networking site where you can see them regularly interact with a large number of people who appear to verify their story.

Ask for proof

Given the increasing awareness of catfishing, you should be able to ask people on online dating sites to prove their identity without hurting their feelings. You can explain that you’ve heard bizarre stories and are very cautious about getting to know people without some sort of objective evidence of honesty. For example, it might be a good idea to ask the person to send a photo in which they hold up a piece of paper stating their name and the current date. If you don’t want to be explicit about your need for proof, simply ask for a Skype session with audio and video. While this can only verify their true appearance, it does help to weed out some catfish.

Keep your emotional distance until you meet

Finally, hold off on divulging lots of deeply personal information that a particularly pernicious catfish might use against you or even use for identity theft. Where possible, try to reserve judgment until you meet the individual in person and are more capable of assessing their genuineness.

by Yaro Babiy

How Long Should I Wait Before Meeting My Online Date for the First Time?

There is no sense in communicating with someone endlessly, talking on the phone for hours and days, if you can just as easily do so in person to find out if you like each other.

Therefore, you should try to meet up with someone you’re interested in as soon as possible. In other words, within 2 weeks of striking up conversation.

This prevents several things.

Don’t Waste Your Time

First, it prevents you from wasting your time on someone with whom you have no chemistry. Let’s say you spend several days and even weeks texting, or otherwise communicating with each other, not in person.

Let’s say you finally meet, and – woops! – there’s no chemistry there for you. Talk about a let down! Here you’ve built up this person, thinking your first date would culminate in fireworks, because of how fun it was to chat back and forth.

Instead, he was a dud, and you realize now that you aren’t very much interested in communicating with him going forward. Next!

Who Is This Person, Anyway?

Another reason why communicating too much before a first date is bad is because you don’t really know with whom you’re communicating – is this person really who he says he is?

You may have heard of the term “catfish” lately. The definition of a catfish is someone who claims to be one thing online but is someone completely different in real life.

Examples of catfish are gay/questioning women posing as men, or gay/questioning men posing as women, attempting to attract someone of their same sex, but without being honest about their own gender or sexual orientation.

Some catfish are the gender they say they are, but are stealing other people’s social media photos, and passing them off as their own.

Other examples of catfish are foreign men in developing countries who sit at an internet cafe all day, pretending to be the kind of person someone is looking for, and somehow managing to swindle vulnerable people (often older folks) out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, using emotional and romantic manipulation.

Hopefully, you never come across a catfish. But the best way to combat this trap is to ensure you meet your new potential love interest in person as soon as possible.

Beware Excuses

If you’ve tried more than once to meet up with your date, and the excuses seem to keep on coming, just give up. He or she is either a catfish, or just not that interested in starting a relationship.

You are free to move on!

Free Online Dating – Is it Really Free?

There is a saying “You get what you pay for” and while high price doesn’t mean high quality anymore, free still means questionable quality. Free online dating is just that, free, and there are a lot of risks involved. There are decent honest people using free online dating services all over the world. At the same time there are scam artists, perverts, and people who lie on every question in their profile using free online dating services. You can get this same mixture of people in the night club that you cruise looking for dates. Your chances of finding the decent people in the world of free online dating are about the same as finding the decent people hanging out in the hot clubs.

First free online dating sites do not screen people. Some ask a lot of detailed questions and then review each profile in hopes of weeding out the bad eggs before they can access their site. Others are simply a worldwide classifieds section. Some may offer a little less risk but neither offer screening. The guy down the street that creeps you out may say he is from Europe and his profile picture may be of a guy on a gondola. The lady at your office that you can’t stand may be Miss Perfect profile right down to the long blond hair that doesn’t look anything like her in reality. The point is no one from the free online dating site has actually met this person so there is a chance that they are nothing like their profile or picture.

Second online dating sites do not perform background checks. The person may be fairly honest in answering all their questions – from jail. Some people could be using free online dating sites to scam others out of their money and even if they have been previously convicted, they can still be on your online dating site. Some people could be on their trying to collect pictures of others people’s children or looking for people with children for perverted reasons. No one is going to know, no one is going to highlight these facts for you because no one at the dating site knows. Background checks are not preformed so you are walking into the situation blind. Granted no one at your local club is performing background checks either so your chances of meeting an unsavory person are about the same between your club and the free online dating site.

The third risk in free online dating sites is that no one is checking ID’s. At your local club people are at least checking ID’s and only good fakes allow the young ones in. But what about you’re online dating site? With no one checking ID’s who knows what age that person is. An 80 year old could be reliving their thirties online or a 13 year old could be looking to just mess with members of the site. You have no idea what you are getting into; at least at a club you can see the person and decide their age for yourself.

The potential for identify theft is a fourth risk in free online dating. Most sites that gather your personal information are secure but that won’t stop a determined hacker. In addition you run the risk of telling a stranger a lot of information about yourself. While you believe that you are getting closer to this person, they have already started stealing your identity. People that meet online tend to talk about more personal things sooner than they would if they were sitting at the club talking. If free online dating sites had background checks, they could screen out the people who have already been busted for identity theft. This would at least reduce the risk of identity theft a bit.

The fifth risk of free online dating is that no actual person from the dating site has met the members on the site. They don’t know who would be a good match for you. They just allow you to browse thousands of profiles for people who may or may not match your personality. Honestly, personality is probably one of the last things you find out about someone you meet in the club but online dating hinges on the ability to personality match with others. At least when your friends set you up on a blind date, it is with someone they have met and believe will be good for you. No one who knows you knows all the other people on a free online dating site. No actually person can recommend someone that they believe would match your personality. When you sign up for a free online dating site, you are flying blind but maybe that brings its own level of excitement for you.

Free online dating sites are a great idea but they are only a little better then going out to the club and hoping to find someone. The vast number of people, real or fake, on free dating sites reaches the thousands. You get to wade blindly through all these profiles hoping to stumble on the one who is a perfect match for you. But even with all these risks and insurmountable odds, people have found their mates in free online dating sites or through a person that they met on a free online dating site.

So where does that leave you? There are other options, for example matchmakers. A matchmaker meets you and every other person that they think may be good for you. They narrow the field down to people that you may actually be interested in based on real information. It’s not to say that a good scam artist isn’t going to make it onto a matchmakers list, they wouldn’t be good if they couldn’t. It is just a way to decrease some of the risks that are associated with free online dating and save you time in the mate hunting process.

In the end dating is a game of testing others in hopes to find the one person that fits with you. Unfortunately some people get hurt feelings and other people get taken advantage of during this process. However you find your date, in a free online dating site or from a matchmaker, remember to stay safe and enjoy yourself.