Catfishing online: how to spot it and avoid it

On June 25th, 1987, President Reagan opened a presidential address by speaking about the culinary pleasures of eating farmed catfish. 

Over 30 years later and catfish has become a synonym for something very different. These days it is most commonly used to describe someone who creates a fake or stolen online identity in order to attract someone and begin a deceptive relationship. 

While Reagan’s objective was to foster catfish farming in order to create stable incomes for farmers and an affordable food source for Americans, here at Lumen our goal is to prevent online catfishing from happening altogether.

Online dating can be an awesome experience, offer you a sense of excitement and the opportunity to meet with a wide pool of like-minded people. Here are some tips on how you can avoid a few fraudulent people ruin this experience for you. 

Use a reputable site or app

At Lumen we prevent catfishing entirely by making people take a verification selfie when they sign up, proving that they are the person in their photos. However, if you are also dating on other sites or apps, you may find the following tips helpful.

Watch out for suspicious signs

If a person’s picture looks fake or too good to be true, he or she may be catfishing. Other warning signals are if they don’t want to video chat or keep finding excuses not to meet up. Google Image Search can be a useful tool to help you discover the source of an image. 

Trust your instincts

If something feels off, then it probably is. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be open to getting to know your potential new partner, but do not ignore red flags either. Be aware that personal information, such as your office address or old school details, can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. 

Be in control

Dating apps give you control to block or report suspicious activity and allow you to make a measured judgement before progressing to the next stage of your relationship.  Scammers always intend on luring their victim away from the dating app and onto other platforms that can’t monitor or trace fraudulent behaviour.

On your first date...

If you are ready to arrange your first date, be sure to choose a public place to meet, such as a bar or restaurant. This will help ease you into the date and relieve any concerns about being vulnerable. By meeting in public, you are in control and can leave if the date starts to turn sour or your date isn’t quite who you expected them to be. Keep a friend or relative updated before and after the date, so that you can relax knowing someone is also looking out for you – and hopefully to tell them after about your fantastic date! 

In the online dating world, most people will be sincere, but as rule of thumb it’s always good to stay alert, both online and offline. Because the only catfish that deserves to be part of your life is the one you’ll have on your table on National Catfish Day!

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