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What is catfishing?

Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they’re not, using social media to create false identities. Catfishing is often used to pursue deceptive online romances.

Why is catfishing dangerous?

Catfishing could lead to the dissemination of your personal information online, used in financial crimes or by a sexual predator leading to assault. Catfishing endangers your health by stripping away your anonymity and putting your mental and physical well-being at risk of being abused.

Catfishing at Tufts University:

Recently, many Tufts students have been filing reports of catfishers who are claiming to be Tufts students. People posing as Tufts students have met up with actual Tufts students, with the goal of hooking up. While the Tufts students filing the reports have thus far been able to leave the situation unharmed, albeit frightened, we must be aware of the growing frequency of catfishing and be proactive about student safety in order to prevent student harm.

What can you do to keep yourself safe?

  • Be careful about what personal information you give out to anyone online. You never know where that information might end up. There are always ways to be vague about personal details; for example, you can say, “I live in the Tufts area,” instead of giving your exact location.
  • Google whomever you are talking to. Sometimes, it is just a simple Google search that can show that the person you are connecting with does not actually exist.
  • Verify Tufts identity. Ask questions about specific professors you’ve had in the past or other Tufts-specific information that only a Tufts student would know.
  • Set all of your online privacy settings to as private and secure as possible on each of your social media sites and dating apps.
  • Be aware and increase others’ awareness. Talk to your friends and acquaintances. Make sure they know that catfishing has been occurring on Tufts campus and that it is possible the person they are talking to online might not be who they say they are.
  • Understand the false sense of security and blind trust that social media can instill. Because social media sites often suggest friends or dating matches based on your friends’ friends, you might automatically assume someone is who they say they are, when this isn’t necessarily the case.
  • Treat your online relationship the same as you treat in-person ones. If you were approached in a store by a stranger, would you give them the same information you would give to a friend whom you know? Think of your online relationships as this stranger in the store.
  • Report any suspicious conversations or any catfishing incidents to the Tufts police immediately. You can do this at http://publicsafety.tufts.edu/police/report-a-crime/, or you can call (617) 627-3030. You can also file a report anonymously. Do not be afraid to report your experiences; chances are, if a perpetrator is targeting you, they are targeting another Tufts student, and you have a chance to play a role in danger prevention.
  • Trust your gut!

Confidential Services

If you want to talk to someone confidentially, please contact:

Alexandra Donovan, Sexual Misconduct Prevention Specialist
617-627-5140 | Alexandra.Donovan@tufts.edu

–or–

Nandi Bynoe, Sexual Misconduct Resource Specialist
617-627-0765 | Nandi.Bynoe@tufts.edu | Dowling 701F