How to Tell If You’re Being Catfished

If you’ve looked through any of our app reviews or dating guides, you’ve likely stumbled upon a Catfish warning or two. The truth is, if you aren’t careful and don’t watch for red flags, you could easily be tricked or scammed by a Catfish. 

We are all about using online dating as a way to improve your social life and get on the path toward a happy and committed relationship. So, we definitely want to do everything we can to help keep you safe on your dating journey! 

With that in mind, we’ve put together this guide to help you recognize when that sexy single you’re talking to might just be too good to be true. 

What Does It Mean to Be Catfished?

If you are talking to someone online who is not who they say they are, in some sense you are being catfished. 

Catfishing can come in levels. Maybe the person you are talking to is who they say they are, but they are 20 years older than they claim and using only old photos on their profile. That is a form of catfishing. 

On the more extreme end, a catfish can be a person who has fabricated an entirely fake, online persona. They trick you into falling in love with the persona, but the person you have fallen for doesn’t actually exist. 

7 Ways to Know You’re Being Catfished

The idea of being catfished can turn a lot of people away from the world of online dating. We get it! However, if you know the signs of a Catfish, you can easily avoid them. Take a look at the 7 most obvious signs that you are being catfished:

1. Their Personal Details Flip Flop like a Fish out of Water

Catfishers tend to fall into the same trap as cheaters and other habitual liars, they get tripped up on their own woven tales.

If your partner is backtracking information, telling directly contradictory stories, or mentioning personal details about their life that just don’t make sense, you have yourself a giant. waving. red. flag. 

Catfish can be especially dangerous to their partners because they are master manipulators and gaslighters. Often, if you call out their lies they will relentlessly attempt to tell you that you are mistaken or that you misunderstood. 

2. They Pressure you to Share Personal Information Even after you Say “No.”

Though some Catfish are people suffering from a form of mental or emotional distress and don’t intend to hurt you, many others are very purposefully trying to gain your trust so they can steal from you. 

If you have struck up a digital romance with someone who constantly pressures you to share private information, you might have a Catfish on your hands. 

There’s a difference between asking about your background for romantic purposes and seeking too much information or asking you to do too much. Here are some questions that a Catfish might ask:

  • Will you send me money for  _____? – Catfish will often try to convince you they are in a place of distress and need money. Usually they pretend they need money for things like an emergency surgery, travel expenses, custom fees to send you a gift, or money for a Visa application. 
  • What is Your Computer Password/ ATM PIN?- Some scammers will really play the long con on gaining information and wait until you trust them before dropping harmless jokes like, “Oh man, I use the same password for EVERYTHING! It’s just ‘password!’” The goal is to get you to join in on the fun and mention your own easy password or constantly used PIN. You may think it is safe because they can’t access your accounts or devices directly, but these scammers have ways to gain remote access to your computer, phone, and other digital devices. 
  • Will You Send Me Sexy Photos? Listen, we aren’t prudes. We know that there is a time or place for being sexual with your partner, even if you are long distance. However, if you think your partner is being too pushy for these photos, insisting your face be in them, and not taking no for an answer, you might be getting set up for a particularly nasty scam. The scammer/Catfish will get your nude photos, then blackmail you with them. 

3. Their Photos Show Up on Someone Else’s Social Media

Google has a super helpful feature that allows you to search using uploaded images. If you search your matches photos and they show results for another person’s social media account, you need to be extra careful! 

4. They Can’t or Won’t Hold a Video Call with You

Video calls are super convenient to make these days and a popular way to feel closer to those who are too far away to visit. Many dating apps and sites even have integrated video chat software to keep members from having to share too much personal data. 

If your partner is completely refusing to make a video call, that is a major red flag that they are hiding something about their identity. 

5. They Always Flake Out on Meeting in Person

Similar to the video call issue, if your partner is missing meetups, canceling them at the last second, or “running into car issues” all the time, you may need to consider that there is a reason they don’t want you to see them in person. 

6. They Get Mad When you Ask to See them in Real Life

Some Catfish never even let it get to the point of flaking out on meetups. Many can become angry and hateful when you ask to meet them in person. They may say things like:

  • You know how busy I am!
  • Don’t you trust me?
  • Why are you being so clingy?
  • You are being too pushy!

Not wanting to meet early in the relationship is normal and safe, but refusing to meet after establishing a committed relationship is a major red flag!

7. Your Friends and Family are All Suspicious of Them

If one of your friends doesn’t like your partner, they may just be incompatible on a social level. If most of your friends and family don’t like or trust your partner, you may need to consider they they are seeing signs that you can’t. 

The cliche of rose colored glasses does hold true. We often only see the things we want, so rely on your trusted loved ones to help keep you safe!

What Do I Do If I’m Being Catfished?

Do you think you’re being catfished? We’re here to help!

Check out our guide on how to confront your Catfish, here!

Matt Seymour

Written By: Matthew J. Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.

John Stringfellow Cyber Expert

Reviewed By: John Stringfellow, CEH(Master), CISSM, SSCP, CECI, CCIP

John Baxter Stringfellow is one of the most acclaimed cybersecurity experts in the world. As Healthy Framework’s Chief Cybersecurity expert, John helps the team assess which dating apps are safe to use, which may have vulnerabilities, and how users can keep themselves safe when dating online. John’s impressive array of independent credentials as well as Microsoft credentials include CEH(Master), CISSM, SSCP, CECI, CCIP, among many more. With 20+ years of expertise in securing digital landscapes, John’s expertise helps Healthy Framework readers better understand the safety side of online dating.