One of the last online taboos is something you read and hear about a lot but nobody you know will admit to. This taboo happens every day worldwide and by the time you find out it can be too late. I am of course talking about Catfishing. The Oxford dictionary defines Catfishing as “Luring (someone) into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona”, but it can also mean a fake online persona being used for nefarious purposes.
The term Catfishing was first used in the 2010 American documentary Catfish, which has also spawned its own TV show on MTV. Whilst it’s primarily thought of as somebody getting duped in a fake online romance it can also be where you can get duped online in any transaction including a business one.
If you get duped romantically, or financially the last thing you will be doing is telling the whole world let alone your friends or family. When it happens you will wonder how you fell for this online scam but you are not alone as people every day worldwide are falling for it. Sometimes it can be done as a prank where you think you are chatting to somebody who has the looks of a model. At other times you could be chatting to someone who is out to steal your identity by pretending they are in love with you. You could also be chatting to someone who is out to rob you of money.
When you are online you want to be secure and safe and if you take the following steps you will lessen your chances of getting Catfished.
- If you are planning to do business or shopping online, research thoroughly who you are dealing with.
- If you are chatting online with someone who is interested in your whole life history and or family, alarm bells should start ringing in your head.
- If someone you start chatting to online on a regular basis suddenly asks for money, be very wary.
- If someone you start chatting to online on a regular basis suddenly says they love you, ask yourself why when you have never met them in person.
- If you are buying a product online make sure you know where the product is being shipped from as you don’t want to be saddled with customs and duty charges or a long wait plus shipping costs if you have to send what you bought back to be repaired or replaced.
- If you are getting close to someone online, make sure they are who they say they are and use Google’s reverse image search.
- Be very careful about meeting someone you met online especially if you hardly know them.
- Don’t become another Catfish victim and treat everyone you meet online the same way you would if you met them in person. This will help you decrease your chances of getting scammed and having money or your identity stolen.