Ever met someone online only to find out they looked different in real life? Maybe they were 10 years older than they said, or maybe they were even a different gender entirely! This is a practice known as ‘catfishing’ and it’s a growing online menace. Find out here how to find a catfish.
Definition of a catfish: someone who pretends to be someone else online, which is done by manipulating social media: a catfish will create fake profiles on (for example) Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, and fill it with fake pictures and details.
The actual act of catfishing is when the person uses these fake profiles to fool people – usually romantically – and manipulate them.
The most common type of catfishing is when someone creates a fake dating profile to try and make them seem more attractive, or even pretend to be a different gender. Catfishing is also used to pull-off elaborate scams – the classic ‘Nigerian Prince’ email phishing scam is one of the oldest and best-known catfish scams.
Catfishing is as old as the internet. As soon as people realised they could pretend to be someone else online, pedophiles, rapists, trolls and bullies used this to target vulnerable people. Today, catfishing is an epidemic. We use social media and dating apps like Tinder on a daily basis and it’s far too easy for someone to create a fake profile and trick people.
Manipulating the anonymity that social media affords users, an identity theft catfish is someone who goes online and assumes another, real, genuine person’s identity. They may pretend to be someone you know, like a friend or an ex, either to get your attention, or to bully you and antagonize you, just to see the resulting chaos.
How to Catch the Catfish
It’s actually becoming easier to spot a catfish, and avoid becoming a victim altogether, than actually catching a catfish. People are nowadays much more aware of just how easy it is to make a fake profile, resulting in far fewer people being as easily fooled. Here’s how to find a catfish online.
- Use your common sense: If you meet someone new online, always remain just a bit suspicious until you actually meet them in person. Never tell them anything personal about yourself, don’t send them any photos and especially don’t send them money.
- Voice/video call: If you think their pictures might be fake, ask them to Skype you or WhatsApp call. If they’re pretending to be someone else, they obviously won’t want to video chat with you, and will make excuses.
- Check all their photos: If someone’s social media profile only has 1 or 2 pictures, then be very suspicious. Go through all their photos, run a reverse Google image search and be on the lookout for anything unusual, e.g., image that look too professional.
- Look at their friends/followers: If they only have a handful of friends or followers then it’s safe to assume they’re probably using a fake account.
- Run a background check: Lots of websites allow you to run a background check on somebody, and you could also perform a reverse phone and email lookup. This is one of the best ways to catch a catfish – if their phone number or email address don’t match their profile or other details, then you know for certain they’re not who they claim to be.
Remember – if it seems too good to be true, then it most probably is. We’re sorry.
The Best Background Check Websites to Help You Catch a Catfish
To bring you the very best list of background check websites, we test each one thoroughly and then rate them based on our criteria. Some of the main things we look out for are:
- Trustworthiness: There are a lot of scam sites out there and we want to make sure you don’t become their next victim. All of our recommended sites are known to be reliable, safe and secure. We also check user reviews to make sure there aren’t any outstanding complaints or issues.
- Features: We check how easy the site is to use, which features it offers and if it works on all devices and operating systems.
- Database size: The best background check websites have huge databases which include driver’s licenses, the sex offender registry, arrest records and more. Our recommended sites contain millions of public records which will help you find what you’re looking for.
- Prices: All our recommended sites are affordable and offer good value for money.
- Security: You don’t want to be exposed while checking up on someone! All our sites use encryption technology and antivirus software to ensure that your searches are private.
If you’re wondering how to find a catfish online, then using one of the following sites is guaranteed to help.
BeenVerified is a well-known and reliable background check site which has been in business for over 10 years. With BeenVerified, you can run a check on someone by name, email address, phone number or home address. Its database contains numerous public records, social media profiles, online photos and much more information that you won’t find on Google.
- $26.89 per month
- $17.48 for a 3-month plan
Intelius is another great background check site, where you can look up people by name or phone number. Intelius has an enormous database of criminal records (including DUIs and misdemeanors), as well as civil court records and public records. An Intelius search can reveal a person’s full name, phone number, past and present addresses, age etc.
- $19.95 per month
- $19.95 for a 24-hour pass
1 Month Premier
1 Month Premier Plus
TruthFinder gives you instant access to thousands of public records on just about anyone in the United States. With TruthFinder, you just need a person’s full name to find their date of birth, social media profiles, home address, arrest records, professional licenses, bankruptcies, businesses and much, much more.
TruthFinder also offers a dark web scan, which crawls through millions of pages on the dark web to find information either on yourself or someone else.
- $29.99 per month
- $25.99 for a 3-month plan
- $2 for reverse phone number lookup
CheckMate allows you to perform in-depth background searches on anyone in the US. All you need is their name and location and you can find their phone number, social media profiles, age, home address and more.
You can also look through the sex offender registry, public arrest records and prison inmate records to see if someone is a convicted felon.
- $34.78 per month
- $27.8 for a 3-month plan
7 Signs You Are Being Catfished
Want to know how to find a catfish? Look out for these telltale signs:
- They seem too good to be true: If they have all the same interests as you, enjoy the same activities and love the same shows, they might be playing you. If everything seems too perfect, it could very well be that it’s a catfish scam.
- Low friend count: A fake account will probably only have a handful of friends – which are also fake accounts.
- Perfect pictures: If they look like a professional model or actor, then there’s a good chance they’re fake. If all their pictures are studio quality, then it’s likely that they were stolen from Google.
- Won’t video call: If they refuse to video call, then they’re probably hiding something.
- Won’t meet up: Likewise, if they won’t meet up in real-life, then you know something’s wrong.
- They’re in “trouble”: If they open the conversation with a whole sob story and ask you ‘help them out’ then it’s probably just a scam for money.
- Gut feeling: At the end of the day, you have to trust your instincts. People online are just that – people. If they act weird, say strange things and seem overly forward, then it’s best to assume it’s a catfish.
Avoid Getting Catfished
If you want to avoid getting catfished online by a fake profile, make sure to keep your wits about you. Try to engage them in some kind of video chat or phone call, where they can’t hide behind a device in order to speak to you. Most importantly, if you’re really not sure if you’re being catfished or not, run a background check! It’s a quick, easy and really straightforward way to uncover any – and all – suspicious details, which you can later use to find out just who the person you’re speaking to really is.