Catfishing 101: All You Need To Know About Catfishing and How to Protect Yourself

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Rapid digitalization has allowed scammers to explore ways to trick their victims for money. One of these ways is catfishing. 

Catfishing happens when a person pretends to be someone else online. This situation often happens in online dating. Statistics show that 40% of catfishing incidents happen on dating applications alone. This number is a 7% increase compared to 2018. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent this from happening to you. Learn more about catfishing and how to protect yourself in this guide. 

🔑 Key Takeaways: 
  • Catfishing involves creating fake online personas, leading to financial loss and emotional distress.
  • The term “catfishing” originated from a documentary and is linked to online scams.
  • Catfishing can lead to substantial financial losses, with billions lost in romance scams.
  • Signs of catfishing include attractive but suspicious profiles, limited social interactions, reluctance for video calls, and refusal to meet in person.
  • Protect yourself by recognizing signs, asking specific questions, avoiding personal and financial sharing, conducting background checks, and trusting your instincts. 

What is Catfishing? 

Picture this: a man falling in love with a woman he just met online. Months later, he discovers that the account is fake and is a man who only uses a woman’s persona to take his money. Now, that is catfishing.  

The word “Catfishing” came from a documentary film that featured Nev Schulman and his experience with online scams or tricks. This film also inspired the creation of a show on MTV where they investigate catfishing incidents and reveal the catfisher’s identity by the end of an episode. 

Often, catfishing aims to ask for money from the victims. Statistics show that catfishing costs about $132.5 million per quarter in 2022. This amount is a significant 11.2% increase from the numbers in 2021.  

The effects of catfishing are also not limited to the victim spending thousands of dollars, it can also have a substantial impact on their mental well-being. 

Effects of Catfishing

Catfishing can be extremely dangerous to someone’s mental health. That is because they are already invested in their relationship with their catfishers. Victims can experience the following emotions:

  • Anxiety – Victims may constantly fear falling victim to catfishing again. 
  • Depression – Victims may develop this mental illness because of losing a relationship built only on lies. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Victims may also gain trauma from the manipulation and deception they experienced from catfishing. 
  • Suicide – In the worst cases, victims sometimes attempt to end their lives. This situation can happen because the person the victim is communicating with for a while is fake. 

According to a study, 35% of catfishing victims have emotional distress that makes them experience trust issues, self-doubt, and many more. Sometimes, victims may need to undergo therapy to overcome these problems. 

Catfishing may also result in significant financial loss. In 2022, reports showed 70,000 romance scam victims, which recorded a $1.3 billion loss. 

Falling victim to catfishing can be detrimental to many aspects of a victim’s life, such as their finances and mental health. Seeing the signs can be your first step to protecting yourself from falling victim to catfishing. 

Signs of Catfishing

Spotting a catfisher is not easy because they can be masters of deception. Fortunately, there are signs that you can watch out for. Some of the signs that a person might be catfishing you include:

  • Being too good to be true – Fake accounts may sometimes look as if they are too good to be true. These social media users often use models, influencers, and other personalities. 
  • Not having many friends or interactions on social media – Catfishers often make new accounts to get their victims. You can quickly notice it if they do not have many friends and real interactions on their posts. 
  • They do not prefer video calls – Catfishers often make up excuses to avoid them because they use fake personas. 
  • The user does not want to meet up – Catfishers often refuse to meet up to protect their fake persona. 

You can watch out for these signs to avoid falling victim to a catfisher. Remember to do your research, too, and get the help of authority if you speculate that someone is scamming you. 

⌛️ In a Nutshell:
Spotting a catfisher can be challenging due to their deceptive tactics. To protect yourself, stay vigilant for the red flags, conduct thorough research, and seek help from authorities if you suspect a catfisher is targeting you. 

How To Avoid Being A Victim of Catfishing

Catfishing can happen on social media and dating platforms, sometimes through emails. Even authorities may find it hard to stop and locate all of them. Finding ways to protect yourself from these is very important. Here are some ways you can avoid being a victim of catfishing.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the signs of catfishing.

Taking notes of the above signs is an excellent way to avoid catfishing. If you first meet someone online, watch out for the signs before trusting them. If they show at least one of these, you should be careful talking to them. 

  1. Ask them specific questions and note what they say.

Asking someone a question requiring them to give a specific answer can be a great way to test their genuineness. This question can be particular that only the person with that background knows it. You can also look for inconsistencies in their stories and behavior. Catfishers often have different stories lined up, so you can watch out for when they slip and reveal lies about what they said. 

  1. Be careful of someone who asks for money and other personal information.

If someone you met online asks for money and other personal information from you, it could be a catfish. Always be wary of people who ask you for important details about yourself.

  1. Do background checking. 

The Internet has a lot of resources that can help you spot catfishers. If you just met someone online and want to do a background check, you can use the following websites:

Social Catfish 

Social Catfish is a website where you can perform reverse name and image searches to gather more information on someone else. This information includes phone numbers, physical addresses, and their relatives’ details. 

This platform also offers reverse image searches. You can use any photo the other person sends you to find more information about them. Reverse image search can also help you find the source of an image, making it easier for you to tell if someone is catfishing you. 


BeenVerified is another effective source for searching for information. If you have another person’s name, email address, home address, or phone number, BeenVerified may be able to verify their identity for you. You only need to enter the information you have on the website, and the platform will scan through its resources to help you find the information you need. 

BeenVerified is a paid service, but they offer a $1 for a seven-day trial. You can use this to try to experience the full capacity of the website without committing to the monthly plan. 


TruthFinder is another background check site with public government records resources. This service can be helpful when you want to verify someone’s identity. You can also obtain personal data and criminal records about the other person. You only need to type their details, such as name, contact number, and address. 

TruthFinder offers a five-day trial for $1. You can use this trial first before diving into their monthly subscription. 

  1. Trust your instincts. 

It is best to end the conversation if you feel something is off about the person you met online. Do not prolong it when you are already emotionally invested in them. Better be safe than sorry. 

Pro tip! To avoid catfishing, familiarize yourself with signs, ask specific questions, beware of money requests, perform background checks, and trust your instincts when something feels off.

Final Thoughts

Catfishing can harm someone both emotionally and psychologically. It can also have far-reaching consequences, such as having trust issues. This is why it is important to remain careful and verify someone’s identity before getting involved with them. Creating a trustworthy online environment can be challenging, but being alert and cautious can be helpful.


Why do people do catfishing?

People catfish for several reasons, such as for personal entertainment, gain, emotional gratification, and a lot more.

What if someone catfished you?

Catfishing can damage a person in so many ways. If you experience catfishing, you can report it to the legal authorities. If you are experiencing psychological effects, consult a health professional right away. 

Who is most at risk of catfishing?

Anyone who engages in online relationships or interactions is potentially at risk of catfishing. 

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