Someone is Catfishing as You? Here’s What to Do

What is a catfish?

Catfishing refers to the creation of a fictitious online persona or fake identity, typically on social media platforms, with deceptive intent (Wikipedia, 2022). A catfish uses someone else’s photos, biographical information, and life details to create an online profile designed to lure people into relationships, either platonic or romantic.

People engage in catfishing for a variety of reasons, such as loneliness, insecurity, boredom, or a desire for attention, connection or validation from others. Catfish may use their fake identities to live out an alternate reality online or to fill a void in their real lives. While some catfish have harmless intentions, many do it with malicious intent – to scam or manipulate people emotionally or financially (Fortinet, 2022).

Overall, catfishing involves using false information or stolen identities online to deceive others, often for the catfish’s own satisfaction or gain.

How to tell if you’re being catfished

There are several red flags that may indicate you are being catfished. Some signs to watch out for include:

Refusing to video chat – According to WebMD, if you’ve been talking to someone online for a while and they refuse to video chat or phone chat, they might be a catfish. They may give excuses like their camera is broken or they’re shy, but this could be a tactic to hide their real identity (

Inconsistencies in their story – As Insider points out, if details about where they live, work, or go to school don’t add up or keep changing, that’s a major red flag. Catfishers often struggle keeping their fake story straight.

Using fake or stolen photos – Conducting a reverse image search on their photos is an easy way to check if they are using fake pictures stolen from somewhere else online. This is a common tactic of catfishers trying to lure people in.

Asking for money – According to Teen Vogue, if they ask for a loan or gift out of the blue, that is likely a catfishing scam. Catfishers will try to pull on people’s heartstrings to get them to send money.

Confront the catfish

If you suspect someone of catfishing you, it’s important to directly ask them if they are truly who they say they are. According to wikiHow, confronting a catfish is an effective way to break things off if you’ve been tricked. Don’t beat around the bush – ask them point blank if they’ve been completely honest about their identity and if the photos or details they’ve shared are real. Request concrete proof of their identity, such as a photo of them holding up a specific hand signal you provide. If they make excuses or avoid providing verification, it’s likely they are trying to catfish you.

According to The Cyber Helpline, asking a potential catfish to meet up face-to-face is another way to call their bluff and determine if they are truthful about who they say they are. A catfish will typically resist meeting in person or make endless excuses why they can’t. If someone outright refuses to prove their identity, take it as a major red flag.

Conduct a reverse image search

One of the best ways to catch a catfish is to conduct a reverse image search on their photos. This allows you to see if the photos are stolen from somewhere else online. Use Google’s reverse image search to do this:

  • Go to
  • Click on the camera icon in the search bar.
  • Upload the photo you want to check or enter the image URL.
  • Google will search the web for matching images and show you where else they are posted.

If the photos show up on other profiles or random websites, it’s likely they were stolen. According to, “Reverse image search is one of the best ways to verify if a person’s profile photos are fake or real.” It takes just a few seconds and can reveal if you’re being catfished.

Other good reverse image searches are Yandex, Bing, and TinEye. Play detective and run photos through multiple sites for the most thorough check. But Google is a great starting point to uncover the original source of a suspected fake’s photos.

Check social media accounts

One way to spot a catfish is to carefully examine the person’s social media accounts for any red flags or inconsistencies. According to Komando, scammers often create accounts that follow tons of random people in hopes of gaining followers themselves. The accounts may have limited posts or friends as well. Additionally, the Santander article notes that verified accounts will have a special blue or green checkmark icon, so be wary of unverified accounts.

Look for signs that the account may be fake, such as a profile picture that looks too professional or posts that seem out of character for the person. The Bosco Legal blog recommends doing a reverse image search on the profile photo to see if it pops up elsewhere online. There may also be inconsistencies in personal details, background, number of followers, etc. Trust your instincts if something seems “off” about an account.

Trust your instincts

One of the most important things you can do if you suspect you’re being catfished is to trust your gut instincts. If anything about the situation, the other person’s story, or their behavior seems strange or raises red flags, don’t ignore those feelings. As one Reddit user advised, “Always trust your gut feeling” (Source). Your instincts likely picked up on something being off even if you can’t quite articulate what it is yet. Pay attention to any doubts, hesitation, or unease you feel rather than brushing it aside.

For example, if the other person seems reluctant to video chat or meet up, makes excuses for why they can’t, or delays making plans, that could be your intuition telling you something isn’t right. Or if small inconsistencies start popping up in their story over time, don’t justify or rationalize them away. The feeling that things don’t quite add up is often the biggest red flag. Trust that inner voice urging you to be cautious, and look into the situation further rather than ignoring those instincts.

Cut off contact

If you’ve confirmed the person is an imposter, stop engaging with them immediately. Block their number, social media accounts, email addresses, or any other way they try to communicate. This sends a clear message you know they are fake and won’t continue the ruse. Don’t keep talking to them hoping for an explanation or apology; catfish rarely admit wrongdoing. Continuing communication also enables them to gather more personal information for further manipulation. The safest action is ceasing contact completely.

Don’t feel guilty about cutting them off, even if you developed an attachment. Remember, they cultivated this bond through deception. Your energy is better directed at those who genuinely care, not manipulative catfish. If you fear for your safety or they threaten you, consider filing a restraining order. Your safety comes first. With distance, the fog of their lies will lift.

Report fake accounts

If someone is impersonating you online, it’s important to report the fake accounts to the appropriate social networks and authorities. According to Facebook’s Help Center, you can report a fake Facebook profile by selecting “Report” from the profile menu and choosing “It’s Pretending to Be Me.” On Instagram, go to the profile, tap the three dots in the top right, choose “Report,” and select “Pretending to be someone.” Instagram’s Help Center also provides instructions for reporting fake accounts.

For other platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, check their respective help centers for the latest on how to report impersonation. According to Social Media Examiner, the process typically involves selecting “Report” from the offending account’s menu and choosing options like “pretending to be someone else” or “impersonation.”

You may also consider filing an impersonation report with your local police department. Gather evidence like screenshots and account details to support your case. Reporting criminal activity can help authorities track patterns and hold impersonators accountable.

Seek Support

Being catfished can have significant emotional impacts like anxiety, depression, humiliation, and anger. It’s important to seek support from friends and family if you are affected emotionally by catfishing according to research. Reaching out to loved ones provides an outlet to process complex feelings and realize you’re not alone. Confiding in trusted friends and relatives can alleviate the shame catfishing victims often wrongly carry.

Therapy is another valuable option to handle the trauma of being deceived and work through any resulting mental health struggles. An understanding therapist helps you move past self-blame or embarrassment and recover your sense of self-worth. With professional counseling, you can develop coping strategies, gain perspective, and emerge stronger after an emotionally taxing catfishing experience.

Be more cautious

One of the best ways to avoid being catfished again is to be more cautious with sharing personal information and trusting new online contacts. Here are some tips:

Take steps to protect your identity like using nicknames or abbreviations instead of full names on social media and dating profiles. Also be wary of sharing details like your address, workplace, or family names with those you don’t know well (1).

When getting to know someone new online, don’t immediately trust everything they say. Ask substantive questions and look for consistency in their answers over time. Be wary if they avoid video chatting or meeting up early on (2).

Conduct searches on their name, image, phone number, and other details they provide to check for any obvious red flags. Look for multiple social media accounts with matching info to confirm they are who they claim to be (3).

Listen to your gut instincts. If something feels wrong or too good to be true, take a step back from the relationship instead of overlooking concerns (4).

By taking proactive measures to verify identities and watching for suspicious behaviors, you can better spot and stop catfishers before becoming a victim again.

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