The Internet is an astounding place, full of information on almost every subject. Not surprisingly, many people take advantage of the vast amount of data. While young adults are most likely to go online, more and more seniors are using the Internet.
According to the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of seniors are online, compared to just 14 percent in 2000. As we write posts on Facebook, play online games with others and comment on videos of cats wedging their fluffy bums in shoeboxes, we are connecting with people across the country and the globe. However, it can be easy to forget that our activity online can be seen by those who are not friends or family.
There is a joke about online identities: on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog. This means that anyone can create a new persona and appearance; even a dog can pose as a person. It seems silly to imagine a dog typing away at a keyboard, but this joke points to a more serious concern: catfishing. Catfishing is the action of a person who assumes a false identity in order to deceive someone and/or to take monetary gain. They do this by pretending to be a friend or admirer. The FBI reported Americans lost $82 million to online dating frauds just within the last six months of 2014. You can learn more about catfishing from an interesting 2010 semi-documentary, called “Catfish.”
How to Protect Yourself From Catfishing
When you meet someone online, there are several warning signs that their intentions may not be pure. Senior Dating says to watch out for these behaviors:
- Interested too quickly. If they want to meet you in person, but your relationship is still new, this could be a warning sign. It might be flattering at first to have another person craving to connect with you, but if they seem desperate or your friends and family feel uncomfortable about the meeting, it is best to say goodbye.
- Do not want to meet in public. This is a major red flag. Actually, it is a giant flashing billboard. They might try to sway you to meet at their home or secluded area. Moreover, they may agree to the location, but never show up. If they do agree to a meet in public, have a friend tag along. If you cannot do that, let your friend know the address of where you will be as well as your date or online friend’s phone number. You can even set up a time for your friend to call you to check on you.
- Need personal information. Never share your banking information, Social Security number or any other personal documents. They may ask you to wire money because they have an emergency (e.g., they are stuck in another country). If they try to shame or guilt you or tug at your heartstrings, avoid helping them.
The Internet is about connection: a connection to information and people. It can be a great resource, but remember to keep your guard up. If you believe you or a loved one needs a connection or companionship, call ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care today. Our caregivers are meticulously screened through our 10-step hiring process. We take into account a person’s hobbies and interests, and incorporate meaningful activities into their daily routines. Companionship is just one of the 50 ways we can help.