Despite its name, “catfish” doesn’t necessarily mean a freshly caught dinner. Instead, you’re the one who’s caught by a catfish. If you’ve been “catfished,” it means you’ve been duped by a dishonest person over the Internet, in phone texts or with a combination of the two. A catfish victim can be the target of cyber bullying or even identity theft.
So how do you protect yourself from these dishonest people who mean you harm? Here is a look at the latest catfish trends and some tips on protecting yourself.
You may not have known, but online catfish are so common in the dating scene that MTV has had a TV show about it since 2012. In each “Catfish” episode, the producers of the show, Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, help people find out whether their online-only love affair is with someone honest or a catfish. Some people who ask the show for help have been “seeing” this person for months, others for years. While Schulman and Joseph seek the truth, their goal isn’t to shatter people’s worlds or pull the rug out from under their feet. Instead, they look for the truth and the motivation of the people who lie to the unsuspecting who are willing to put their hearts on the line.
People who become catfish have a range of motivations. Some are simply bored with their lives and want some excitement, others seek revenge on the opposite gender for a perceived wrong and others seek personal information from their victims so they can commit identity theft or fraud. Not only have there been stories of catfish engaged in extramarital affairs (not surprisingly), but also corporate espionage and even murder plots.
First off, choose your site wisely. While catfish are commonly found on online dating sites, they can also be found in chat rooms and social media platforms such as Facebook and even Skype. When it comes to these last two sites, eliminate the chance of catfish by accepting only people you know in real life as contacts and part of your friends’ group.
However, since you’ve chosen the online dating scene, make sure you pick a reputable one designed for the sharing of information without putting users in danger’s way. If you feel you may divulge sensitive information in the name of trust, educate yourself about identity theft and learn all you can to avoid the consequences.
With video technology, there should be no reason your online sweetheart is unable to make a Skype date or Google Hangout. If he or she makes excuses about using a video camera, even from a smartphone, something smells fishy. Issue an ultimatum. If they’re serious, they’ll meet with you online; if they make more excuses, it’s time to move on.
Accounts and Apps
When you create an account, no matter what site you use, don’t volunteer too much information. In choosing a user name, don’t include your own name, birthday, zip code or any other way you may be identified.
If you use an app such as Tinder or OkCupid, keep them updated because many bug fixes and security options are often installed, perfected or introduced in updates.
Lastly, if you meet your match, delete your profile. Why keep your personal information, even a little of it, on a dating site when you’re in a happy relationship?