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Online Dating: Verifying Their Identitiy
Have you ever heard of the phrase "catfished"? I am not talking about the bottom-dwelling fish, I am talking about dating! A catfish is a person who is not who they appear to be. This term has become increasingly popular as online dating becomes more common. Match.com states that currently 40 million Americans use online dating services, which adds up to 40% of our dating pool. Unfortunately there are quite a bit of fake people online. So, how do you know who a catfish is? Unfortunately you don't. To protect yourself you should try to verify your online love's identitiy.
Ask for Photos!
Ask for several pictures. Most people will gladly give you a couple of photos in exchange for your own. You should be looking for clues in these photos. Is their clothing modern, or very outdated? If their outfit suggests the picture is from the 1970s, it just might be! You should also be making sure that all the photos are of the same person. Most importantly, you should do an image search; I like to use Google's image search. To use this tool you simply drag and drop a photo, or upload it into the search bar. Google will do the work, and it will provide other locations where the photo appears online. If you do a search and nothing comes up, that's usually good! However, it will become quickly clear if your online love has been stealing photos from someone else online. Getting sent fake photos should be a red flag.
Call Me, Maybe?
Voice chats are a great way to further an online relationship, and they are also a great way to verify a person's identity. Over a microphone you can get a general idea of their age, where they are from, and their gender. If you're talking to Bob the 25-year-old man from Tennessee, you should obviously expect to hear a man in his twenties with a bit of a southern drawl. Of course accents don't always apply- people move to new places and bring their accents with them.
If your online love interest gives you their phone number, take advantage of it! Run it through a search engine. Area codes can verify a person's location. Sometimes a phone number can also be linked to a name.
You Look Good on Camera!
It is hard to lie over live camera feed, at least about your physicality. A webcam chat can verify that a person is the same person as their photos, their age, their gender, etc. You can also gather clues about who they are as a person from your camera chat. Does he or she smile a lot? Is he or she a happy person? Is their home messy, or clean? You should always chat via webcam before meeting in person.
Statistic Brain states that 49% of people say physical characteristics are the most important factor in a potential online mate.
Have you ever met up with someone you dated online?
A great way to check out your love interest's background is to find them on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace. Check out their friends- are many of them from the same area he or she claims to be from? Are his friends mostly younger, or older? On social networking sites we tend to befriend coworkers, family, schoolmates, and friends. See what he or she shares in common with the people they are linked to online. If they have a lot of friends from other countries, no photos tagged with friends, and no comments, it may be a fake profile.
When you meet someone you like in person, you might ask your coworkers, friends, or family for more information on your new interest; you should do the same online! If you met in a game, ask around about him or her to their gaming friends. If you have them on social media, you can befriend their closest friends. You should try not to act like a stalker, but more importantly, you should verify their identity and protect yourself.
What's in a Name?
Most people are closely linked to their name. You should run your significant other's first and last name through a search engine. If you get too many hits, try adding more details such as their middle initial, city, and state. A search engine can show you criminal records, marriages, divorces, graduation announcements, etc.
Statistic Brain states that 10% of sex offenders use online dating to meet people.
We all have a built-in ability to tell a lie from the truth. Deciphering which is which becomes easier as you discover more clues. Follow your gut, be safe, and don't get catfished!