It can be scary meeting someone from the internet that you’ve never met in person before. Heck, even if you randomly have mutual friends it can be scary. Unfortunately, because of the world we live in it can not only be scary or awkward, but it can also be dangerous. This begs the question of whether you can and should verify if someone you met online is real or not.
Here’s the answer. Yes, you 100% can and should verify if an online date is real. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through that process and help you to better protect yourself from getting catfished or ending up in an unsafe or awkward situation. We’ll talk about why it’s important to try and verify, the steps you can take to verify if they’re who they say they are, and what you should do when things just don’t add up.
Why This is Important
We’ve touched on this already, but we want to make sure you realize why this is so important. We live in a scary world. Sure, most people that you meet through online dating are going to be nice people who mean well, but there are a few out there that don’t have your best interests at heart. Because of this, it’s extremely important that you take as many precautions as possible to make sure you are safe and protected.
We don’t say any of this to scare you or discourage you from dating online. Online dating is awesome, and thousands of people find love and new friends every single day! But, we’re telling you this because you need to be smart about things. By just taking a few proactive steps, you can keep yourself safe. One of those steps that we’re going to cover today in the rest of this guide is how to verify if someone you met online is real or not.
Before we go any further, though, we do want to point you to a few additional resources that you may want to check out if you’re actively dating online. Our online dating safety guide will tell you everything that you can do to ensure that you stay safe. It’s a must-read for anyone who is dating online in this day and age. The second resource we have is our guide on how to protect yourself from being catfished. A big step of that process is verifying who you are talking to, but there are some additional things you can do to protect yourself.
Now that we’ve gotten that out let’s take a look at some of the questions we get on the topic and what you can do to verify if someone online is who they say they are.
Should you verify anyone you meet online?
100% without a doubt. Now, you don’t have to go as far as running background checks, but you can if you want to. If you do want to be as safe as possible, our friends over at People Finders do have a great product to help you verify information provided to you by a potential suitor.
The point here is that you 100% should be trying to verify things that people say when you meet them online. Some people are going to be awesome and honest, and everything they tell you is going to be the truth. Those people rock.
Then you’re going to have people who exaggerate and tells some white lies about themselves to try and look better. They’re still going to be the actual person you’re talking to, but there are going to be some fibs in there. We don’t like these people, and it’s important to know when you’re getting lied to.
On the far end of the spectrum, though, you have people who are going to be lying about everything about them. They may or may not give you their real name, and it will be hard to believe anything that they say.
The problem is that these people aren’t going to come waving a big banner that says they’re lying. A lot of people who are habitual liars end up being pretty good at it so it can be tough to tell the truth from a lie without trying to verify some of their information.
Because of all of this, you 100% should try and verify anyone you meet online. The best thing that can happen is you find out that the information they are providing you is the truth and you can continue on building a potentially awesome relationship! We’ll talk in a few about what to do when things don’t quite add up, though.
Steps You Can Take to Verify an Online Date
So, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of what we’re here to talk about today. What can you do to verify that an online date is really who they say they are?
One of the simplest ways to start the verification process is by using social media. Do they have a Facebook account? An Instagram? Do their accounts look real or do they possibly look like fake accounts? Keep in mind that not everyone uses social media so there may be real people who just aren’t on these sites. What you’re more looking for are accounts that look to be fake or don’t match up with the things that they are telling you.
Google and Reverse Image Search
The next best tool you can use to verify if an online date is real or not is Google. Take some of the information they’ve given you and start looking around to see if you can validate any of it. They claim to have their own business? Google it and see if it exists and if they are listed anywhere on it. They claim to work a particular job? Same thing; hit up the Googles.
Additionally, you can reverse image search their pictures to see if they pop up somewhere else. The way you do this is start by downloading their picture to your computer. You can usually do this by right-clicking on it (from your desktop), and clicking save as. Then go to Google Image and drag the image from your desktop or file folder right into the search bar. We promise this works.
Google will then search for that image to see if it shows up anywhere else on the web. If it doesn’t show up anywhere, that’s awesome! It most likely means that the image is something that they took and is most likely them. But, if the image shows up all over the place and attached to accounts that are not theirs or on stock photo websites, then you probably have a problem.
We highly recommend that you do this with every image they have especially if one of them flags an issue.
Use Common Sense
The single tool that’s much more powerful than Google or Facebook is your own brain and intuition. If something doesn’t smell quite right, something is probably up. If things seem too good to be true, they usually end up being so.
Look, we aren’t saying that there aren’t some amazing people out there, but you’re all smart cookies. If things seem wrong, be hesitant and start digging deeper. Look to get more information from them and about them that you can then try and validate through one of the other methods on this list.
If you’re worried that the person might be catfishing you and you want to be sure before you agree to meet up, you certainly have that right. If someone freaks out because you ask to video chat before meeting up, then that might be a red flag.
Video chatting (even for just a few minutes) is something that can’t be faked. If they are who they say they are, then you’re going to see that on the video. If they aren’t who they say they are or are lying about how they look, you’re certainly going to see that too.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for this and people should respect the fact that you want to be safe. If they ask why you want to video chat for a few minutes, just tell them it’s something you do to keep yourself safe online. Anyone that has a problem with that is probably hiding something from you.
Use Multiple Sources
The last thing that we want to say about this issue is to use as many sources as possible. Just because they don’t have social media doesn’t mean that they are lying to you. But, if there are multiple red flags across a lot of these mediums, then you may be dealing with someone who isn’t being completely honest with you.
What should you do when things don’t add up?
So, what happens when things don’t add up? Well, first of all, take a breath and think logically. It’s all going to depend on the severity of what they are potentially lying about and how sure you are that they are lying.
If you’re not completely sure and it’s not something major, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you’re not completely sure and it’s something major, you need to ask them about it. Who cares if it’s a slightly awkward conversation. It’s better than having an awkward conversation in person or a potentially really awkward or unsafe situation.
The important thing is not to jump to conclusions just because you can’t find a few things on Google or something sounds too good to be true. Remember, there are a lot of valid reasons that things might not be adding up.
But, what happens when you know for sure they are lying about something? Well, it’s up to you how you want to proceed. In our opinion, no matter how you choose to proceed it should end with you not meeting up with that person or pursuing a relationship with them.
Even if it’s just something small they are lying about, they are lying to you. How can you trust anything they say moving forward? If they’re willing to lie to you before they’ve even met you, then what is the quality of that relationship going to be like?
The decision that you do have is whether you want to continue talking to them and give them a chance to explain or just move on. If you aren’t 100% sure, you should probably give them a chance to explain. But, be prepared to hear some creative excuses. Remember, people who are habitual liars are good at it, and they have no problem lying again and again to cover up previous lies.
If you’re 100% sure they’re lying, you can tell them you know if you really want to. But, it’s not going to accomplish too much except maybe make you feel better. The quicker that you stop talking to them and move on, the better.
While this guide may have come across a little scary, we want you to remember that online dating is a great thing. It breeds so many amazing relationships and marriages every day and has come a long way since its early days. But, there are those few people out there that try and ruin things for the rest of us.
As long as you take a few proactive steps to protect yourself and work hard to validate and verify your dating matches, you should have a much better, safe, and productive online dating experience.
The Safest Dating Apps
If you’re new to all this, a look at our favorite safe dating apps could be a good starting point.
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Written By: Jason Lee
Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.
His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, NBC, FOX, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.