You may have heard of a new television show called Catfish, coming to your screens soon. It explores people who create fake profiles online, and who begin dating other (real) people, pretending that they are someone else. As much as this is dramatized for our entertainment, it is a real problem and can be a danger to you.

Faker

Here at Dating for Students, we pride ourselves in making sure that all our registered profiles are real and that the people using our site are, well, pretty darn nice. But we also want to make sure you’re as safe as can be, so here are some tips for staying safe while dating online.

If something feels wrong, follow your instinct. This sounds obvious, but when you’re falling head over heels for someone, it’s easy to shrug away things that seem a little off.

If they keep making excuses to not meet up with you, they’re either too busy to date anyone, not interested in you enough to take it to the next level, or they could be hiding something. Maybe they aren’t who they say they are, they look different to how you think, or other possibilities, such as that they already have another partner.

When you first meet up with your date, make sure that you tell someone else where you’re going and at what time. That way, if you’re not home after a certain amount of time, they will know that something could be up. Keep your phone on you, and contact a friend or relative if you feel unsafe at any point.

Search their name online: if they’re fake (unless they’ve been playing this role for a very long time) then things may not look legitimate. For example, their social media profiles will seem bare, or only a couple of photos of them will appear under the image section.

Be realistic: if things seem too good to be true, they often are. Make sure that blond, busty lingerie model who lives in a mansion is who she says she is before you start falling for her big time.

Try a reverse image search online. This is where you upload a photo of your date into the search bar (try tineye.com) and you will be told where this picture appears elsewhere on the web, or where it was originally sourced. If they’re using someone else’s photo for their profile, even if they’ve slightly modified it, this is a great way for you to find out.

Above all, stay safe. Your safety is paramount, and if you just don’t feel comfortable with something, don’t do it. It’s not worth the risk.

You can find out more about the television show, here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2498968/