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For many baby boomers who went on their last date about thirty years ago, the concept of online dating might seem foreign. But in 2016, online dating is not only acceptable, it’s considered one of the best ways to meet someone especially for older people.
The newcomer to online dating may not even be aware of the practice known as catfishing, which is when someone pretends to be, well, not who they really are. This person has created a false online presence in order to cheat on a spouse, steal your money or get access to personal information. Here are a few simple ways to make sure you don’t become a victim.
Do Your Research
As good as the Internet is at providing potential scammers a place to flourish, it is also a great way to make sure the person you are chatting with online is really the person he or she claims to be. All it takes is a little digging and a little savvy.
Google the person’s name or personal description to see if this is a real person. Look at any social media accounts they have. If they have accounts with Twitter, Facebook, etc., check to see if they have very low friend numbers or more than one profile on the same service, which should raise a red flag. If the person has no photos of friends, pets, work or family, or if their picture is an obvious glamour shot: red flag.
Should you find the same personal description on google (linking to other dating sites), then that person is most likely a fake. Be wary if someone claims to be traveling or working abroad (engineers, nurses, businessman..)
Don’t hesitate to ask your internet-savvy friends or children to help check out someone’s background. If you want to be certain you are not being catfished, this is a very good way to get your answer quickly and without spending a fortune.
Face to Face
Email and phone chats are fine, but you will have a much better chance of avoiding being catfished if you can see the person you are talking to. You can propose video chatting if you aren’t ready to meet up in person quite yet, and if your prospective date refuses to Skype, that is a raised red flag!
The best idea is to simply make plans to meet in public relatively quickly. If someone has excuses other than geography for not meeting, it’s time to wonder why. After all, you don’t want to invest time in trying to build a relationship with the invisible man, right?
No Emotional Speeding Allowed
Yes, you do want to meet someone who will appreciate all you have to offer in a relationship. But if your online chat-mate starts expressing deep emotions after only knowing you briefly through chatting, watch out. This is the mark of a person who is needy or desperate, and it’s also the mark of someone who thinks you can be taken advantage of if fed the “right line.”
You have to protect yourself from being conned financially as well as emotionally. Do not give someone you’ve only met online personal information about your home, family or bank accounts. Until you know someone well enough to trust them, don’t reveal exactly where you live, work, work out or dine regularly. Take this information off your social media accounts, as well, or use the privacy settings to keep it out of the public eye.
DO NOT EVER give anyone you’ve met online. Anyone who asks for it is almost certain to be scamming you, and you will never see that money – or that person – again.
Trust Your Instincts
How often do we ignore our gut-feeling about someone or something and live to regret it? Too often is the right answer.
Pay attention to your feelings. Wondering if the person you are talking to is too good to be true? Or do things seem a little “off,” but you can’t pinpoint why, review what has (or hasn’t) been said or asked. If you are really on the fence, ask a close friend to check out the person’s description and picture, listen to your account of your interactions and give an objective opinion.
If someone lies at all about anything, block them from emailing you and move on without a second thought! There are plenty of honest people out there looking for what you're looking for, whether it’s romance or companionship, so make sure you don’t get caught in the catfish net.
Photo: (c) Karen Roach / fotolia.com