When it comes to online dating on apps like Tinder or on social media, everyone wants to know how to avoid being catfished. At best, being catfished is like being cyberbullied; at worse, you could be dealing with a dangerous criminal out for your money – or even your life.

Online dating looks set to grow in popularity, and completely staying away from dating apps or websites might not be the best solution for avoiding potential catfishes. Do you know how to avoid being catfished? Let’s start by looking at what catfishing is.  

What is catfishing?

Unless you’re new to the online dating scene, you’ve probably heard of this slang word more than once. In the world of digital love, a catfish is someone who seduces or manipulates someone with a fake online identity.

Someone might catfish another to get some kind of financial gain, or maybe to just troll and get a kick out of playing with people’s feelings. Catfishers also extract personally sensitive information from their victims, which they can use for blackmail or identity theft. In some cases, the catfishing becomes so extreme, it results in bloody murder.

It pays to avoid being catfished, but do you know how?

5 Tips for How to avoid being catfished

Tip 1: Ask for a video chat

Worried your match might be a catfish? Ask for a video chat. 

A great solution for how to avoid being catfished is to straight-up ask for a video chat. Some people might consider this taboo especially if you’ve only just matched with your potential date. But if the sparks are there, then what’s the hold-up?

Anyone can write an impressive bio, or stock a gallery of hot pictures. It’s a lot harder to hide behind a façade when you’re chatting your match up on a video chat.

Pay close attention to how they choose to respond to your video chat request. If they hesitate, prod them further. If they straight-out refuse or try to play dumb, that should set alarm bells ringing. If they agree, this doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods yet. Watch for any inconsistences. Ask them similar questions phrased in different ways.

Tip 2: Investigate their online presence  

Everyone leaves a digital footprint online, and catfishes are no exception

By default, any solution for how to avoid being catfished would point to looking up your match’s online identity. Check out their profiles on online dating sites. Scrutinise their social media. Dig up everything on them with Google.

Some guides for how to avoid being catfished might give you a list of “dead giveaways” that a profile is fake, like stock photos for profile photos, or a lack of information in their “About” section. This might not always be the case. As social media and online dating become more integrated and information increasingly cross-shared, detecting a fake profile isn’t so clear-cut anymore.

What you should do instead is make a list of their general information, like their phone numbers, addresses, and whatever details you can scrape off their online presence. Use what you have and see if they add up with the story your potential match tells you.

For images, Google Reverse Image Search is your friend. Simply copy the URL of an image, paste it into the search box of Google Images and you’ll find your source in no time.

Tip 3: Don’t give them anything valuable

It’s common sense when dealing with strangers for the first time. If you think someone is a catfish and they’re prodding you for money, personal details or other personally sensitive information, don’t give in to their requests.

And don’t change your mind just because they’ve started playing the sympathy card. If they say that a loved one is dying or they need to pay off loan sharks, redirect them to appropriate social services instead. Their reaction should tell you everything.

There could be grave consequences if you do. At best, you lost a sum of money. At worse, your identity could be stolen.

Tip 4: Ask for a face-to-face meetup as soon as possible.

The whole point of figuring out how to avoid being catfished is revealing the person behind the online identity, and while a video chat can work. An equally useful solution is to simply meet up face-to-face.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re in an intimate relationship just because you’re texting, emailing and calling them everyday. If there’s not physical meetup, that’s not really a relationship to begin with. When you do ask for meetup, be sure to also meet someplace safe – just in case.

Tip 5: Date online with a fake number.

We stress this point every time we talk about online dating and recently published our thoughts on getting a fake boyfriend text number. Knowing how to avoid being catfished is no different. One of the best ways to avoid being catfished is to use a fake phone number for dating.

When you use a fake number on Tinder or any online dating site, what you’re doing is giving yourself an added layer of safety to fall back on if you think a catfish has targeted you. Want to ditch a catfish? Just get rid of your fake phone number and get yourself a new one.

Keep the catfishes away with Phoner

Keep your online dating experience catfish-free with Phoner

A fake phone number is a great solution for how to avoid being catfished, and Phoner offers you access to unlimited phone numbers from around the world that you can immediately use without getting a new phone or SIM card.

With a fake phone from Phoner, you’re keeping yourself a step safer when you date online. Never worry about how to avoid being catfished again by getting Phoner today!