Don't Get Caught by a Catfish

What do you think of when you hear the word Catfish? A whiskery fish that lives deep in the water, or the newer definition, a person who creates a fake online profile in order to seduce someone, often using fake pictures and information? If you chose number two, you are not alone, people from football stars like Manti Teo to the girl next door looking for love have been taken in by these so call“catfish” bottom feeders.

The Mtv show “Catfish” has helped to expose a wider audience to the term and the dangers involved. The show facilitates in person meetings between people who have had an online relationship but never met. It gives them the chance to prove (or not, as the case maybe) they are who they portray themselves to be online. We recently sponsored a bulk message from “Catfish” fishing,  (pun intended) for couples to be on the show, well this got us thinking. Being a docudrama the set up, of course, leads to more then one surprise and a lot of “how could they not have known” moments. But the truth is, almost anyone can be lured into a false situation, especially when emotions are involved.

We’ve seen our fair share of people pretending to be someone they are not, so I polled the office and from our combined our experiences came up with our top tips to keep from getting caught by a catfish.

  1. Don’t give out personal information to people online. This means everything from credit card numbers to your address to your mom’s maiden name. You would think this would be common sense. Because honestly, there is no reason why anyone would need it. Trust me, the chance that they were mugged and are now stuck in a foreign country with no money and no passport are so slim you have a better shot playing the lottery. Don’t give out personal information.
  2. Skype – the next best thing to meeting in person is seeing each other over the internet, ok, maybe not but at least you can see if that Calvin Klein model really is who you’re chatting with.
  3. Cyber stalk – for once it won’t be considered super creepy. Use the Internet to research the person you are chatting with, they should have a virtual footprint – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram. Do your homework.
  4. Social Red Flags – just because they have a Twitter doesn’t mean it’s real; anyone can get a twitter account. So make sure they have friends, followers and a real presence. Do they have an Instagram with no photos? That should be cause for pause. What about Facebook, only 3 friends, doesn’t that tell you something?
  5. Technology Red Flags – they are on a social networking site but yet they don’t have a cell phone, or access to a webcam. They can text all night long but they can’t pick up a phone, ever?! Really?!
  6. Go slow – someone who immediately says they love you should cause you to stop and think about why the declaration has come so quickly: either a. they are crazy or b. a catfish or c. don’t really know what love is. Either way, if they are saying they love you and can’t live without you after 3 days or even 3 weeks of chatting via text, email or IM there is something else going on.
  7. Listen to yourself – it’s called intuition and we all get. That feeling that maybe something’s not right, or that it’s too good to be true. Not to be a Debbie Downer but honestly, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.