What is catfishing and how can I stay safe online?
Online dating is now a mainstream way of meeting new people, but many of us are unaware of the dangers we face each time we log-on. With no way of telling whether people are who they say they are, catfishing continues to grow more and more commonplace – but what is it, and how can you avoid some of the dangers of online dating?
What is catfishing?
Put simply, catfishing is the term used to describe someone who creates a fake profile and identity for themselves. This is usually done to con others into believing they truly are this new ‘person’, either to extract money or otherwise cause harm to the people they meet on the web.
Catfishers are sometimes quite detailed in their construction of these new identities, which can make it difficult to tell fact from fiction. While some simply steal a photograph or a name, others will carefully construct an alternate life story which makes them sound more ‘impressive’ or attractive than they would otherwise.
In online dating, this can be catastrophic for a victim, as it may lead them to interact with this individual in a way which they would not do if they knew who was really behind the screen. This could include sending money, intimate or suggestive photographs, or even agreeing to meet, only to be conned (or in some instances, physically harmed) in person.
Examples of catfishing
There have been several high-profile examples of catfishing, such as the event in 2016 when a man was conned into believing he was online dating the popstar Katy Perry. Such high profile examples of identity theft can also have a damaging impact upon the life of the person who has their photographs or identity stolen, such as in the case of Karen Danczuk, who had her photograph plastered across online dating profiles in 2017 and had to manage numerous attempts at contact from men who thought she had been ‘dating’ them.
How do I stay safe when online dating?
Online dating platforms are currently under no real legal pressure to keep their users safe, particularly in the area of vetting identities. This is where we come in. Safe Dates provides a trustworthy, effective service where users of online dating can have their identities verified (or check someone else’s providing they are already a member of Safe Dates), proving their trustworthiness and helping to make online dating less toxic, far safer and all in all a happier experience for online daters.
If you would like to sign up for Safe Dates please click here.
If you are already a member of Safe Dates and would like to invite a potential new date to sign up and become a Safe Dates Verified Member please click here.