How To Verify Someone on Tinder is a Real Person
In 2012, now New Orleans Saint’s linebacker Manti Te’o was reportedly catfished by a long-standing acquaintance. His exclusively online girlfriend and the tragedies that befell her, including a car accident and terminal illness, never actually existed. Of course, Te’o’s situation was unique. This elaborate scheme lasted a long time and seemed rather purposeless (unless the purpose was to make Te’o feel foolish). However, it does speak to a larger issue. You can’t always know who you’re talking to online.
However, in the Age of Online Dating, it likely won’t due to simply delete your accounts and try your luck at the bar. You have to muddle through somehow and just hope that the person on the other end of your conversation is as genuine as you are. Apps like Tinder are particularly susceptible to this sort of thing given how simple the profiles are. Baiters don’t need to put much effort into their persona to get you exactly where they want you. Thankfully, there are some ways to spot a fake account before you say or do something you’ll regret.
Why People Make Fake Accounts
It helps to know the motivations behind these sorts of accounts if you’re going to spot and avoid them. At the end of the day, they mostly want financial gain, but how they go about that may differ. What’s more, a few nefarious apples out there are looking for something a little darker.
- Stealing Your Financial Info – This is the most direct route to money for online scammers. Believe it or not, some desperate online daters out there will shell out credit card info to buy something nice for a pretty woman. Thankfully, most of us know not to tell strangers on the internet our social security number, bank account number, etc.
- Gaining Access to Your Accounts – This can be for financial gain, but it could also be about getting access to your friends and followers on social media in order to scam them. Some catfishers will try to learn more about you in order to get your email, phone number, and security question answers.
- Giving You a Virus – This is less likely on Tinder as it is a mobile only app. However, it’s still possible for Android phones to become infected with malicious software. At best, you’ll see some ads you don’t want. At worst, your phone’s functions will be held hostage by hackers for money. Malware can also be used to spy on your phone behaviors and access sensitive information.
- Selling You Something – This is catfishing at its most innocent. Some fake users simply want you to click on a link to view an ad. They don’t want to hack you or infect your phone. They only want the money that the advertisers pay them to get clicks. Still, it’s annoying when you’re out there trying to make a connection.
- Harassment – Occasionally, you get users that just want to torture people. They have no financial interest. Their only interest is upsetting you or making you do things. In some cases, they’ll try to get personal information about you and use that to blackmail you into doing something embarrassing or incriminating. It’s psychological and emotional abuse, plain and simple.
Don’t let these liars and scammers scare you away from enjoying all of the good things that Tinder has to offer. Just take some time to educate yourself about how to spot and avoid them.
How to Spot a Bot
Many of these fake accounts don’t even have real liars on the other side. They are simply algorithms designed to trick you into thinking you’re talking to a real person. This makes it possible for some scammers to target people en masse, increasing their chances of catching someone. Unfortunately for these scammers, it’s pretty easy to tell when you’re talking to a machine. After all, it would take a team of programmers to develop an AI sophisticated enough to be truly convincing.
- Lightening Fast Responses – You just swiped right and matched with someone on Tinder. Within seconds they message you as if they’d been waiting with baited breathe for you to like them. Sure, they could be extremely eager, but it’s more likely they were programmed that way.
- No Wait Time – You don’t respond right away, but that doesn’t stop them from continuing the conversation all on their own. That being said, some bots are programmed to wait for responses.
- Terrible Spelling – To be fair, there are probably a lot of legitimate Tinder users who themselves have terrible spelling and grammar. When we talk about terrible spelling and bots, we mean spelling that is beyond the pale and clearly incorrect. Imagine reading “U look grreat in tthat pik” and you’ll get our meaning.
- Strange Speech Pattern – Are they too formal? Do they have some sort of stock “that sounds so interesting” after everything you say? If something feels off, then it probably is.
- Responses Out of Sync with Yours – Maybe you asked them about their favorite sports team and they responded with “I love sports.” If it seems like they’re not really listening to you, then it could be because they aren’t really a person.
How to Spot a Fake Account
Spotting a bot is easy enough, but not all fake accounts are automated. Some of them will have real people on the other end. It is a lot harder to tell when some real person is lying to you about who they truly are. But there are still things you can watch out for.
- Underdeveloped Bio – Fake accounts will have empty or extremely generic bios. The people behind them want to appeal to everyone and hope that the photos will speak for themselves. Fake accounts will also often lack other basic info, like occupation.
- Links in Bio – Maybe their bio isn’t empty but instead encourages readers to click on bitly links to learn more about them. Do not click on these links.
- Photo Red Flags – Everyone wants to look their best on Tinder, but some photos might be too good to be true. Photos that look professionally done or are borderline pornographic in nature could belong to a fake account. Then again, maybe that Instagram model really is just looking for a date.
- Avoid Meeting Up – You’ve been talking to that gorgeous guy for a few days now, and he seems really into you. But for some reason, whenever you try to invite him out for coffee, he dodges the question. Maybe he’s keeping you on the hook while he waits to see how things pan out with another girl. Maybe he’s made up.
- Want to Take the Convo Off Tinder – To be fair, this will happen eventually with Tinder dates. You’ll exchange phone numbers, meet in person, etc. But if they want to get you off Tinder before you even have a chance to flirt, then something is fishy. They could be angling for your email or phone number for hacking purposes. They could also be hoping to send you spam or a link that will infect your computer.
- Personal Question Red Flags – True, dating is all about getting to know one another. It’s only natural that your prospective Tinder date want to know about your interests. However, there are a few questions that might seem a little off. Are they asking about your mother’s maiden name or your high school mascot? There’s a good chance they are trying to figure out your answers to common security questions. Some of them will be clever about it too, steering the conversation in such a way that questions like those won’t feel out of place.
If you think you’ve come across a fake account, then let Tinder know, so they can help protect others.
- Go to the account profile.
- Tap on the menu icon in the upper right hand corner.
- Tap Report.
- If you’re reporting the account, then you’ll be prompted to enter a reason.
You don’t have to have match with someone to report them. However, tread carefully in this case. If you report legitimate accounts too often, then Tinder may start limiting your ability to report in the future. Unfortunately, there is no way to block accounts at present. If you feel you’re being harassed, then report the account instead.
No matter how confident you are that you’re match is “on the level,” there are certain things you should never do as a general rule.
- Click on any links. Ever. Period.
- Send nudes.
- Provide too much truly personal information until you’ve met in person.
- Share personal contact information until you’ve met in person.
In general, try not to sweat it too much. After all, you’re there to have fun and meet cool people. You don’t have to keep talking to anyone who seems insincere or avoids meeting up with you. Just go in with your eyes open and have a good time.