Meeting people online today is as normal as waking up in the morning. Many relationships start on the internet and the old days of meeting through mutual friends are much less common. While online dating can be exciting, it’s also important you keep yourself safe from catfishing. Being catfished means you are being tricked into a relationship by someone who isn’t actually the person they say they are. The following are some signs of being catfished and what you should do about it.
The Other Person Never Does a Video Chat
Now that you’ve been chatting online for a while, you’re ready to take the relationship up a notch and do a video chat. If your new significant other doesn’t ever want to show his or her face, that’s the first sign you’re being catfished. Perhaps they’ll have a good excuse, such as, “I look awful at that moment and am embarrassed.” Perhaps they’ll tell you they don’t have a webcam. Maybe they have an Android so they can’t FaceTime your Apple device.
In any situation, these are all excuses. Everyone with access to the internet has some sort of access to a camera and an app in which they can do a video chat. If you’ve received excuse after excuse about why the other person can’t ever do video chat, chances are their profile pictures, as well as any other pictures they’ve sent you, were stolen from someone else.
Your New Love Interest Wants You to Send Money
Someone who you don’t know well and is asking for money is also a serious red flag. Of course, they’ll probably have some very sad story, possibly something they’ve been buttering you up for, but you should never send the funds. Even if the transaction seems secure, you may not ever see that money, or that person, ever again.
Their Social Media Accounts Aren’t Super Active
There are some people who aren’t very active in social media, but you’ll still see things pop up every once in a while. Perhaps they’ll be tagged in a friend or family member’s photo. Maybe they’ll have 100 friends wish them happy birthday. If this new person you’ve just met online doesn’t have a very active social media account or doesn’t have many friends on it at all, those are signs of being catfished.
Meeting in Person Is Always Out of the Question
After spending a lot of time in online conversation and interaction, you’ll probably want to meet in person at one point or another. If the other person makes excuses or says meeting is absolutely out of the question, you may want to think about this relationship again. Perhaps they agree to the meeting, only to bail at the last minute with a very compelling excuse. This is reasonable if it happens once, but if it keeps happening, you can assume they’re not who they say they are.
The Person Has a Dramatic Life
If the person at the other end of your chat history tells outlandish tales, they may not be true. If the person or the stories seem too good to be true, they probably are. Sometimes catfishers will claim to be undercover agents, giving you a reason they can’t meet up in person. Others may claim to travel the world for work or be stuck in another country while traveling for leisure.
Other drama to be leery of is if your new boyfriend or girlfriend shares very intimate details about his or her life early on. This tactic is meant to draw sympathy from you so you’ll form an emotional attachment and want to help him or her. Only so many traumas can occur in one person’s life, so if it starts to sound extreme, it probably is.
What You Should Do About It
Now that you’ve learned how to tell if you are being catfished, you need to know what to do about it. The first thing you should do is contact an investigator. A private investigator can help you determine whether or not you are being scammed and what to do now that you know. If you’ve already been taken advantage of by catfishing, a private investigator may also be able to help you track down this person and take back what you’ve lost. Next, cut off the relationship. The other person may seem rudely persistent, which is another sign they have evil intentions, but don’t go back and engage in conversation.
Finally, change your online accounts. This might include completely deleting accounts and starting over again or simply changing passwords and usernames so they can’t find you anymore. If your online chatting spilled over into text messaging, it might be a good idea to get yourself a new phone number. Any personal information you shared with the catfisher is already out there, but you can make some changes to protect yourself for the future.