When you’re looking for a date, the internet seems to be the only place to start these days. According to Pew Research, 59 percent of Americans say online dating is a good way to meet people, and 62 percent of them have actually gone on dates with someone they met online.

But as the dating pool increases, so does the danger of meeting someone who isn’t who they say they are. In fact, a recent UK study found that one in five people have been duped by a catfish – someone who creates a false online identity to trick people into relationships.

So, how can you tell if the person you’re talking to is real or fake? Here are some tips:

1. Do a reverse image search

Catfishing is a huge issue when it comes to online dating. People create fake profiles, often using someone else’s photos, in order to dupe people into something. Catfishes will try to get you to send them money, or they may even try to blackmail you. Don’t let yourself be a victim of catfishing – do your research to make sure the person you’re talking to is real.

If you’re talking to someone online and they send you a photo, try doing a reverse image search (Google has a handy tool for this). This will show you if that photo has been used elsewhere on the internet. If it has, it’s likely that your date is using a fake profile and stole the photo from someone else.

2. Google their name

If you’re talking to someone online and you start to get suspicious, try Googling their name. If they’re using a fake name, it’s likely that nothing will come up. But if they are who they say they are, you should be able to find some information about them. You can also try looking them up on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Now, some people have a small digital footprint, sometimes by design and sometimes inadvertently. Rather than immediately dismissing someone with a small online presence, it might be a good idea to do some more digging to see if you can find anything else about them. Then, if all else fails, you can ask them about it. It isn’t exactly taboo anymore to do some searching on someone before you meet them, and they probably won’t find it too weird that you looked them up.

However, if they get angry or try to gaslight you, they might be trying to deflect from the fact that they’re not who they say they are.

3. Check their story for inconsistencies

When you’re talking to someone online, pay attention to their stories and see if anything seems off. If they’re telling you a story about their life and something doesn’t add up, that’s a big red flag. It could be something small, like they said they went to college but you can’t find any record of it. Or it could be something bigger, like they claim to have been in the military, but their stories don’t match up with what you know about the military.

If you catch someone in a lie, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a catfish. They could just be forgetful or mixing up some details. But if you notice a pattern of lies, that’s a major red flag.

4. Do a Social Media Check

If you want to dig a little deeper, you can do a social media check on your date. This can be tricky because you don’t want to come off as being stalk-y or creepy. But if you do it right, it can give you some valuable insights into who this person really is.

First, see if you can find them on any social media sites. If they’re not on any, that could be a red flag. Or, it could just mean that they’re not very active on social media. If you do find them, take a look at their profile and see what kind of information they’re sharing. Are they only sharing photos and nothing else? Do their posts seem fake or staged?

You can also try looking up their friends and seeing if you can find any information about them that way. But be careful – you don’t want to come off as a stalker.

5. Meet Them In Person

The best way to be sure that you’re not being catfished is to meet them in person. This can be tricky because you don’t want to meet up with someone who could potentially be dangerous. But if you take some precautions, it can be a great way to confirm that the person you’re talking to is real.

When you do meet up, make sure it’s in a public place and that you let someone else know where you’re going. You should also make sure that you have your own transportation so that you can leave if you need to. And trust your gut – if something feels off, it probably is.

The dating world has become more expansive than ever, but that has come with its share of new dangers. Be sure to do your research before meeting up with someone you’ve met online. A little bit of effort can go a long way in keeping you safe.

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