If you’ve ever questioned whether the person you’re chatting with online is really who they say they are, you’re definitely not alone.

The practice is called catfishing, and it involves using a false identity online. It can be used out of revenge, boredom or insecurity, but it’s always dishonest and just plain something you should never do.

Thankfully, there are ways to know if it’s happening to you. Here are 10 telltale signs you’re being catfished.

They Limit Your Means of Communication

A catfisher will often try to keep your method of communication strictly to whichever platform you “met” them on. If you mostly DM on social media, they’ll be very wary of giving you their phone number, regardless of how often you communicate or how close the two of you seem.

If they do give you their phone number, they might limit your conversations to only texting. They don’t want you to call them, and if you try to do so, they never answer. This might be because they don’t want to be overheard lying about their identity—or they might not be able to convincingly pull off the voice of the type of person they claim to be.


(Sierra Burgess Is a Loser via Netflix)


Your Relationship Moves Extremely Fast

If a stranger suddenly slides into your DMs and within a few messages acts like you’re their soulmate, take that as a big red flag. While it’s definitely possible to establish an affinity with someone online, you should probably be suspicious of someone who develops extremely deep feelings for you in a very short time period. It could be a sign that they’re being dishonest and are interested in something other than your friendship.


They Seem Like They Were Made for You

Dealing with a catfisher can be tough because they make you want to believe so badly that they’re the real thing. Often, they’ll respond to you as if you’re exactly their type. They take interest in all of your hobbies the average person might find strange or boring, and act as if everything you say is extremely clever and funny. They might even want to get you to reveal secrets about yourself and tell you they accept you as you are, when they actually plan to use that information against you later.

What’s hard about these types of relationships is that they might treat you as if you’re perfect, which can feel great, but is dangerous if they have an ulterior motive. They act like there’s no one else in the world they would rather talk to than you—but you need to ask yourself if that’s realistic. This is especially true if the person is movie-star-gorgeous and would probably never chat you up in real life. Nobody is absolutely perfect, so be wary of people who present themselves as such.


They’re Absurdly Bad With Technology

Someone your age should definitely know how to use FaceTime, right? If there’s always something going wrong when you ask to chat face-to-face, you have a right to get suspicious. Whether it’s that their webcam isn’t working, the app store won’t connect or that they don’t know how to work their phone, if they were really who they said they are and wanted to chat with you, they’d figure it out. Same goes for if they continually postpone your calls. And if they always have gorgeous, high-quality photos of themselves, but can’t seem to operate their phones when they need to communicate with you, be on red alert.


They’re Inquisitive, Yet Secretive

Beware of people who want to know every little detail about your life but refuse to get specific about their own. It may sound like they want to get to know the real you, when really they plan to use that information for their own gain. And if they rarely talk about themselves, or dodge questions when you ask about them, it could be a sign that their persona is totally made up and they simply don’t have enough answers to provide you.


The Facts Aren’t Consistent

When they are willing to divulge a little bit about themselves, pay attention to what they say, and be on the lookout for any contradictory information. They may pretend to lead an extravagant life and claim to be constantly unavailable because they’re globetrotting—though if you listen carefully, you may catch them in a series of lies. If the details aren’t consistent and things just aren’t adding up, chances are they’re not who they claim to be.


(Sierra Burgess Is a Loser via Netflix)


Their Social Media Numbers Are Suspiciously Low

Sometimes, you can tell at a glance when a social media account is fake. How could someone this cute and kind have only a handful of followers? If the account is relatively new, ask yourself why this person would only now be getting a Facebook or Instagram page. They may only seem to talk to a few people in a way that’s not reflective of how a real person acts on social. It’s also suspicious if they’re only on one platform. If you want, you can do some detective work and reach out to these people. They might be getting catfished, too.


Their Pics Are Stolen

When someone lies about their identity, they’ll often steal someone else’s photos as an avatar for their made-up persona. It may seem obvious to avoid these people, but many people fall for catfishers whose photos can be traced back to the real people, whether they’re from someone else’s social media accounts or are just stock photos. To avoid getting duped yourself, try searching their images through Google. Click the little photo icon to expand the tool, or use Google Chrome to simply right-click an image and select “Search Google for Image.” It’ll show the real source of those pics and let you know if they’re not who they claim.


They Can’t Prove Who They Are

It’s not too much to ask someone to prove they’re the person in their photos. Whether that’s FaceTiming them, or just asking them to send a photo or video that convincingly ties the account with the face, they shouldn’t refuse if they’re getting the same thing from you in return. If they get excessively upset that you feel distrustful of them, it’s another sign they’re being deceptive. After all, they have no reason to be defensive if they have nothing to hide.


(Sierra Burgess Is a Loser via Netflix)


You Have a Bad Feeling About Them

If something feels fishy about something you’re chatting with, despite the fact you really like them, you should go with your gut. Don’t ignore the instinct that tells you to run from the situation, and if you really have to know, make them proof that your suspicions are unfounded.


Sierra Burgess Is a Loser got the whole thing wrong. HERE’s why catfishing isn’t romantic.