Online dating profiles run the gamut from being overly complete with every single option covered (12 photos supplied, all questions answered, all multiple choices chosen, etc.) to those that seem utterly neglected (generic profile name, no photo and no questions answered). The former at least shows that the person is taking the dating game seriously, while the latter honestly just looks a bit lazy. But when a prospect is hiding something or isn’t who they say they are, you run the risk of being manipulated or potentially hurt, which is also known as getting “catfished.” Here are the catfishing red flags to watch out for when scrolling through profiles:
1. Only One Photo
Someone who only uploads one profile photo automatically raises a red flag. Especially if that picture includes sunglasses and/or a hat. Anyone who is not hiding anything would provide at least four photos showing their look is consistent. One photo makes me think you’re either trying to hide bags under your eyes, or a receding hair line, or your weight, or all of the above (see #6). Or you could be trying to hide your identity. If you are contacted by someone with just one photo, then you can reply by asking for more photos to confirm both their identity as well as their looks.
2. Few Profile Questions Answered
Answering just a few questions with just a few words is one way to get someone’s attention, but not in a good way. People’s “fake profile radar” starts to go off when answers are just one line and contain cliches with no substance (think “I’m looking for someone to complete me” or “I love long walks on the beach”). You are looking for someone who put some thought into their profile, not someone who is bored and looking to see what fish they can catch after dropping some flaky bait in the pond.
3. All Facebook-Linked Options are Disabled
This one is particularly important for dating apps but also applies to JDate and other dating sites that now link to Facebook to ensure someone’s identity. With apps, you can choose what information to provide from your Facebook profile; however, the more you hide, the shadier you appear.
4. No Social Media Trace
Smart online daters know to look for your Facebook or other social media profiles to confirm your identity before they consider meeting you. Even if you have every privacy function enabled and all they can see is your name and one photo, they can at least feel secure that they aren’t being catfished. Of course, there are real con-artists out there who set up fake accounts for this exact reason, but you can only do so much to protect yourself.
5. Vague on Details
Is their career listed as “legal” or “marketing” or “entrepreneur” without any other description? Do they claim to live in a big city rather than reference the neighborhood that any local would expect (think: Los Angeles instead of Santa Monica or Manhattan instead of SoHo)? After reading their profile, do you feel like you have any idea who they are or are you left with more questions instead? When faced with a direct question during an email exchange, do they deftly avoid answering by asking you a question instead? When you can’t procure any details, it’s time to walk away.
6. Height/Weight/Age Doesn’t Add Up
Whether the profile displays one picture or ten, do the details not match the photos? Do they say they are slim but the photo clearly shows someone who is not? There’s nothing wrong with any body shape, but being dishonest about it will only lead someone to suspect you’re being dishonest about other things. The same goes for saying you’re six feet tall when you’re really barely 5’10 on a good day. Lying about your age is another big no-no. These seemingly little white lies shouldn’t be ignored since they can be an indicator of someone who lies about bigger things as well.
Whether you’re meeting someone online or off-line, always put your own safety first. That includes watching out for these signs of a possible fake profile. And even if the identity matches up to a real person, ask yourself whether you really want to date someone who represents themselves in a way that comes off as downright shady.