Hello! So I've been talking to people online since I was 9. At one point, my online friends were more important to me than my real ones. I've been catfished by quite a few people. I've even catfished myself a few times. So these are all my tips to making sure the person you are talking to is who they say they are.
This is always the first thing I do when I meet someone online. I also do it sometimes with people in 'How Do I Look?' Questions. What this does is search the internet to see what websties the picture shows up on. Its simple. You can use Google Images or other reverse image search sites like TinEye.
For Google Images you need to click the little grey camera on the side of the search bar. Then upload the picture from your computer or paste the URL. When I search a picture from this site I just right click the picture and click 'Search Google for this Image.' (That may only work for google chrome though)
If the person online sent you more than one picture Its best to image search them all. Sometimes it does not always work. For example I was talking to this guy and I searched only two of the images he sent me. I figured if those didn't show up, then none of the others would show up either. But I was wrong, months later i searched the other pictures to actually see them show up on a website. Even searching their friend's and family's pictures could lead you to something.
Search their phone number
Googling a person's phone number can show you where they live, their full name, phone type, and more. If their phone number is connected to their Facebook or other social networks then you can find their profiles. Now people can be on a family plan or a friends plan meaning a different name would show up when you search. So it might not be the most effective way to find them. I wouldn't use this method by itself.
Notice their friends on social media
Go through some of the comments on their page. A friend or family member of them must of posted something. Try to find people who seem to personally know them well. Thats a good indication they are who they say they are. You can even message one of the commenters asking if the page is legit. Some of the REALLY good catfish, will make more than one fake profile and will connect them to each other. They might make a fake sister profile, a fake mom profile. If they only have a few friends then its not a good sign. So notice how many friends they have, if their friends live in the same area, went to the same school, etc.
Not being able to video chat or talk on the phone
This is pretty obvious, but also one of the biggest red flags. Saying they can't video chat or call the first couple of times is understandable. But if every time you ask there's an excuse then something's up.
"I dont have a webcam" Its 2015, they have a smartphone, they also have a camera on that phone. Im sure they have friends who have webcams too.
If they refuse to talk on the phone, they may even be faking their gender.
"I dont have [social media profile]"
Now I know not everyone is a fan of social media. But most people in this day and age have a facebook or an instagram. Especially if you're talking to someone ages 13-25 because people of this generation obsess over technology and websties and apps.
Sickness, hospitalization, etc.
The biggest excuse to why a catfish can't meet you, is that they got into an accident on their way. Some catfish even want to end being fake but still dont want to admit anything. So they actually say they got cancer and they end up killing themselves off so they can't talk to you anymore.
"i'll pay you back"
*sigh* I feel very stupid admitting this one. Its INCREDIBLY stupid. I've always known that, until I met someone online and i talked to them for years and I really cared about them and I trusted them. So when they said they wanted me to buy them something, I did it. They said they would pay me back or had gifts for me in return, never got anything back. This isn't necessarily a sign they are a catfish, but a sign they are taking advantage of you and might not care about you as much as you think and people usually do this online because it's easier to fake things like that over the internet.
Useful sites and info
TinEye - Reverse image search site. https://www.tineye.com/
Spokeo - Search people by name, email, phone, username, or address. http://www.spokeo.com/
Catfish stories - Interesting and scary catfish stories http://www.buzzfeed.com/laraparker/insane-catfish-stories-that-will-make-you-want-to-delete#.wgdDrDW6r
Catfish the movie - This movie is actually where the term 'catfish' came from http://www.amazon.com/Catfish-Nev-Schulman/dp/B003Q6D1YW
Catfish the tv show - This show is incredibly helpful and interesting http://www.mtv.com/shows/catfish/
Thats all :DD
I know some of this was probably obvious, but watching Catfish the show youd be suprised by how many people are fooled by people online and what things they were getting fooled with.
When people think about online catfish they usually think about faking pictures. Its not ONLY faking pictures. Someone could send you totally real pictures and still be a catfish. Their pics could be real but they could be lying about their name, job, age, or even whether they are actually single or not. and thats still catfishing. So be careful and never completely trust people online, even when you think you know them.
Saftety tip: If you decide to meet someone you met online, meet with a friend or meet in a busy place ^-^