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The FBI reported that 18,000 people were victims of catfishing in 2018. This number will continue to grow as more people connect with others online for romance and money. Catfishing is when a person deceives someone else online using a fake identity. Once the catfisher earns the victim’s trust, this can lead to the victim meeting the catfisher in person. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious issues, including being financially, physically, and/or emotionally harmed. Continue reading to discover some tips to verify someone’s online identity and avoid becoming a catfisher’s next victim.

Tips to Verify Someone’s Online Identity and Avoid Getting Catfished

Google the Person’s Name

Like anything online, you can verify someone’s online identity by searching their full name on Google. This should provide some basic information, such as their address and active social media profiles. If you would like to find out more information, search up the person’s online profile picture. You should come across other pictures of this person, such as their profile pictures used on job boards and social media channels. When possible, it can be helpful to search up their nickname, workplace, and address. If you can’t find anything with the given information, you are most likely dealing with someone that has a fake profile. 

Check Out the Person’s Social Media Profiles

In today’s digital age, many people are more than happy to share their personal lives online. This gives you an excellent opportunity to find out more information about a person, as well as look for some common red flags of catfishing. 

Catfishing Signs:

  • Their social media profiles only have one or two pictures and little to no content posted on their feed or wall. 
  • Their social media usernames appear generic, such as “studcakes1960” or appear like a scam, such as “number1salesman.” 

While it is possible that the person just created their social profiles, caution should be taken if all of their accounts look like they were made in a hurry. Most legit accounts will include basic details, such as a bio description, a few images, and a cover image. If you look at enough online social accounts, you will notice a pattern with the sketchy profiles that have thousands of followers already, yet no content or bio posted. 

Keep Records of Online Communications

When dealing with money online, it’s important to keep a careful record of all communication with the other person. This includes emails, text messages, chat messages, voicemails, phone calls, and even video chats. Take screenshots, save voicemails, and write down dates and times of videos and phone calls. 

If you plan on paying someone money for something they are selling online, this recorded communication will help protect yourself if issues arise. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to online scams and lose a lot of money. By having the other person’s name, address, email, and phone number, it will be easier to take them to court with their personal information on file.

Hire a Licensed Private Investigator

In general, a licensed private investigator isn’t your first option when verifying someone’s online identity, especially for romance. However, if you are talking to someone online and are considering spending a large sum of money on property or goods, it’s recommended that you hire a PI. A PI can confirm a person’s identity and ensure that their online offer is legit. This will help you feel better about pursuing an online deal, especially if you aren’t sure whether or not the deal is fair.

Furthermore, a private investigator can run a background check on the person in question. This can uncover information about a person’s possible criminal record and to see if they have multiple identities listed with their name. Indeed, this step can help you verify a person’s identity and likelihood that they have good intentions. 

As you can see, false information is a scary reality in today’s digital society. It’s not enough to take a person’s word for it when it comes to online interactions. You must verify their identity, so you can protect yourself from becoming a catfishing victim. This can save you from everything from losing lots of money to heartbreak. If you are in need of Florida private investigators, contact PATRIOT Backgrounds and Investigations today.