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Catfishing: how to stay safe online

10/06/2019 - Online safety

With online scams and fraud on the rise in the UK, we polled the nation to find out how many of us have fallen victim to fake identities used online.

Have you ever received an online message or email from someone you don’t know and been concerned about the security of your online information? With online scams and fraud on the rise in the UK, we polled the nation to find out how many of us have fallen victim to fake identities used online. 

From telling a little white lie on your social media profile to building up entire relationships behind a fictional persona, the term ‘catfishing’ is now a common phrase for someone who attempts to trick people into thinking they are somebody else online.

Our new research revealed that a whopping 29% of Brits have, or would be tempted to catfish online, with a quarter (25%) of those polled stating that they have fallen victim to catfishing tactics in the past.

The most common catfishing tactics Brits admitted to using online included editing social media photos to change their appearance (14%), exaggerating facts about themselves on a dating/social media profile (9%), creating a social media profile with someone else’s image (7%) and starting a romantic relationship with someone online using a fake profile picture (7%).

But why do people create fake accounts? Of those who admitted to creating false identities online, the most common reasoning behind their behaviour was because they were dissatisfied with their appearance (27%), they were bored (27%), they wanted to make friends (26%), for a sense of escapism (25%) and to find a boyfriend/girlfriend (18%).

Five top tips when it comes to staying safe online

1. Be suspicious of people you don’t know

Should  you receive a friend request on a social platform, or message from someone you aren’t familiar with, be wary of them. If someone is looking to start a conversation  be friendly, but practice caution in opening up right away.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof

If you start talking to someone but you become worried you might be a victim of catfishing, you can always ask for proof of who they are. If they are reluctant to do something like send a photo holding a piece of paper with your name on, or they insist their camera is broken to prove their identity, you can promptly cut the conversation off.

3. Don’t overshare

Meeting new people online can be exciting, however, you should err on the side of caution when it comes to sharing personal details on the web. Try not to give too much information about yourself away if you are concerned about someone’s intentions or security when you are online, especially when it comes to identifiable information such as your postal address or phone number. Online fraudsters can use this personal information to develop other fake online identities.

4. Stay protected

When it comes to meeting people online, make sure you stick to platforms and websites that you trust. It’s essential to make sure both the device you are chatting on and the domains you are using are always secure. Don’t leave yourself and your personal information exposed to potential fraudsters or hackers.

5. Trust your instincts 

You can often tell when something doesn’t feel right and one of your best resources is your instinct. If someone asks for money and you have never seen a picture of the person, you might be right to be concerned. Make sure you take a minute to step back and review the situation before it goes too far.

If you’re worried about keeping safe, at Insurance2Go we can help protect your devices. Take a look at the insurance policies we have available and give yourself extra peace of mind today.

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