How to spot a 'Catfish'

Chris Thompson
Staff Reporter

The internet is full of many different kinds of useful websites. One of the more popular uses of the internet is for that of instant messaging or using dating websites. When using these services, there is a term known as a 'catfish' which means that the person you are talking to is not really who they are claiming to be.

These people may be trying to scam you into sending them sensitive photos of yourself, or worse, to steal your personal information or to get you to meet them at some odd time. 'Catfishing' is a fairly common occurrence with these services, but there are several tips you can use to help you identify a potential catfish and get out of the conversation quickly.

First and foremost, you should always verify that their profile photo is legitimate. If you notice that their profile photo looks a little too professional or seems pretty familiar, you can perform what is known as a 'reverse image search' using a search engine such as Google. To do this, you simply right-click on the photo your wishing to search for. If you are using a browser, such as Google Chrome, the option to 'Search Google for Image' will be listed. In the event that this option is unavailable, you can simply choose to 'Copy image address'.

Once you have this information copied, you can head over to Google Images. Google Images' search box has a small camera icon on it. When you click this icon, it prompts you to paste the URL—or address of the image you are wanting to search for. Here, you will right-click and either 'Paste' or 'Paste as Plain text' the information you copied earlier. Once you click search, the engine will bring up any visually similar images it can find relating to the image you are looking for. If you see your image on these results, that is a red flag that the person you are talking to may not be who they say they are.

If their profile image seems legitimate, or you do not want to go through the trouble of reverse searching the image; then another solution to identifying a catfish is to try and arrange a public meeting with them. If they try to turn down the offer by attempting to change the meeting location to somewhere private, or just refusing all together, that may be another red flag that something unusual is going on. Keep an eye out if they seem to grow defensive at the fact you don't seem to trust them.

Often times gaslighting is used as a tactic to divert your attention from identifying them. The final tip for identifying catfishes is to ask them some difficult questions. Dating websites are usually location-based, and many suspicious accounts either do not have their location listed or are listed in a remote country. If you are unsure about the person you are speaking too, try to ask them some questions about the local region they claim they are from. If they are unable to answer or give you vague and standoffish responses, that can be yet another red flag.