Protect yourself from the possible Catfish

The warning signs of being catfished

Written by Kelly McGill


One thing for sure is that you have heard of the word “catfish”. And no I don’t mean going to your local lake or river to catch some with a rod.

Being 'catfished' means you are the victim of someone with a fake identity online who set out to trick you into a romantic relationship/online friendship. I know sounds crazy right? And you might think that would never happen to you! But the thing with being “catfished” is that you never know.

The term came to the fore a few years ago when Nev Schulman starred in the 2010 documentary, Catfish, which see’s Nev falling in love online and finding out she was someone she wasn’t. From this Nev is now the executive producer of MTV’s show Catfish, where he advises viewers to think before beginning an online relationship. There are some early warning signs that can trigger the alarm bells, when it comes to speaking to somebody online, so don’t fall into the trap too easy.

The top signs of being cat-fished

  • A random, extremely attractive person starts speaking to you online out of the blue

  • You cannot for the life of you get that person to Skype you! The majority of people nowadays have smartphones and webcams on their laptops/computers

  • Their Facebook page. If they have less than 100 or even more than 1,000 friends, and pictures with other people who are not tagged #Sketchy

  • If you ask for a picture and the person cannot send it that day, something is up

  • If you feel like it is all moving way too fast, it probably is

  • Each picture they send you looks like the cover of a magazine. Everybody has that one bad photo. Especially if it’s your first ever profile picture!

So you have discovered that your Jake Gyllenhaal or Cara Delevingne look alike is not who they said they were. Your reaction will always depend on how you find out, if you ever do. But you will mostly feel embarrassed, hurt and shocked!

How to get over being cat-fished

  • Don’t give yourself a hard time about it. Nowadays people are so good at creating an online presence; it’s scary! Try and take time away from social media to get over what has happened.

  • Learn from what has happened. Make sure that in future when taking up a relationship online that you are not being made a fool of.

  • List all of the red flag signs that you should have seen and what you would do differently this time.

  • Remember not everyone is out to cat-fish you! That just might be a once off and it will probably never happen again.

If you have already been cat-fished you will not need convincing that you need to take some steps to making sure it will not happen again. The first step is stepping up and protecting your privacy online.

  • Secure all your privacy settings online. Check out SpunOut's Online Safety Hub for more info.

  • Don’t give away too much information.

  • If you find that it is all too much for you close or even delete/deactivate accounts.

There are many reasons why people will have set out to Catfish innocent people. Although it is not right, some of the people behind the screen will have reasons as to why they are doing what they are doing. Some people create a different online profile for various reasons such as revenge, they are lonely or self-conscious in their own skin, or people who are just out to cause utter chaos. People who catfish are not a one size fits all group.

So the next time you decide you want to spark up an online relationship, try to follow the following steps;

  • Do a possible image search

  • Have you met them on Skype or Facetime?

  • Have they a reasonable number of friends on social media sites?

  • Are their photographs from different age periods with people tagged?

  • Have you got any friends in common who can verify this person is real?

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