How Tinder’s new ‘catfish’ ID may help daters, according to experts

A person is holding a mobile phone with the Tinder dating app logo on its screen, in Athens, Greece, on 31 January 2024. (Photo by Nikos Pekiaridis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Tinder has introduced new enhanced ID checks for users in the UK and US. (Getty Images)

As if the dating world isn’t hard enough to navigate on a regular basis, users of dating apps have to be extra vigilant of fraudsters and catfishers.

But now, Tinder is throwing an extra safety net for UK users with the introduction of new enhanced identity checks. This involves checking a passport or driving license against a video selfie.

While the scheme is voluntary, anyone who verifies their identity this way will receive an icon on their profile that verifies their age and likeness, reassuring other users that they are authentic.

It is hoped that the new checks will prevent catfishing, which occurs when unscrupulous users use a stranger’s name and photos to present themselves as a different person to lure potential partners on the apps.

Romance scams can also take place when such users use different identities to trap and convince others to do things like send them money.

According to data by ExpressVPN, while nearly half (49%) of UK respondents said they have an increased awareness of catfishing, more than a fifth (22%) have experienced catfishing firsthand. A further 40% said they know someone who has been catfished.

Close-up of a female using a dating app on smart phone. Woman looking at man on an online dating app on her mobile phone.
Catfishing and scammers are a major problem on dating apps, putting authentic users in danger. (Getty Images)

Further figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reveal that, over the last financial year, there have been more than 8,000 reports of romance fraud and almost £100m in total losses.

But will Tinder’s new verification checks be able to stop fraud on the popular dating app? While security experts say it’s a welcome and crucial step from Tinder, they urge users to continue staying vigilant while swiping left or right.

‘Digital wild west’

Alex Laurie, senior vice president at digital identity specialist Ping Identity, tells Yahoo UK that Tinder’s new enhanced ID verification is “long overdue in the realm of online dating”.

“Since the inception of the internet, anonymity has been prevalent, with individuals often assuming false identities or using others’ photos, fostering an environment akin to a digital ‘wild west’,” he says.

“By facilitating a secure means for individuals to verify their identity without compromising personal information to dubious platforms, Tinder sets a precedent for addressing fraud and identity theft.

“This move not only safeguards users but also establishes a standard that other online platforms should emulate,” Laurie continues. “It’s a crucial stride towards mitigating risks associated with misrepresented identities and fostering a safer digital environment for all.”

Romance scams becoming more sophisticated

While being catfished can be a devastating experience for many daters, being tricked into a romance scam can result in serious financial loss and hugely impact confidence.

Bala Kumar, chief product officer at age and identity verification solution provider Jumio, warns that the widespread availability of artificial intelligence (AI) apps now fuels the scams even more, as fraudsters are able to create fake profiles and artificial personas with even more ease.

The rise of deepfakes are even more worrying, he says. “Deepfakes are the new wingman to romance scammers — helping fraudsters generate artificial videos or images that closely resemble real people, using faces generated by AI or real human faces.

“With AI voice cloning, fraudsters can generate convincing voice calls that correlate with the fake dating profiles they’ve created, making it even easier to fool their victims.”

Kumar adds: “It seems the rise of online dating may have driven a rise in romance scams. Today, we’re used to starting romantic relationships online first, before meeting in person, and this way of meeting people is here to stay.

“But it comes with drawbacks — online personas are much easier to fake than real, in-person meetings, and this simple fact puts users of online dating apps at risk of romance scams.”

Stay vigilant while swiping

Black woman, phone and bed with happy for texting, communication or chat app in house. Girl, relax and bedroom with smartphone, reading or social media for online dating, flirt and search for love
While the new ID checks by Tinder will help users, security experts urge users to continue staying vigilant while on dating apps. (Getty Images)

Tinder’s new ID checks can provide an extra layer of security for users, but you should still stay vigilant about who you’re talking to online.

Chelsea Hopkins, social media manager at domain provider Fasthosts, advises daters not to “accept everything at face value if you have suspicions”.

“Fraudsters will always be looking for new and inventive ways to bypass these systems, especially with how capable AI is becoming, so you should still check for other signs if you suspect a fake profile,” she says.

“There’s also nothing stopping a dedicated fraudster from obtaining a convincing fake ID that could be used to trick the new verification process, then disappearing once their con is complete.

If you are unsure about someone you’ve matched with online, it might require “a little bit of detective work” to suss them out, Hopkins says. Her tips include:

Reverse image search

This is a popular way of checking to see if photos have been stolen, especially if they look old or out of date.

Check Instagram accounts

If the person you’re chatting to has linked an Instagram account to their profile, take a look at it. If they’re lacking pictures with friends, or the quality of pictures isn’t consistent, it could mean they aren’t authentic.

Suggest a video call

Suggest a video call with your potential date before you start giving out any kind of personal information. This can help you see for yourself if the person you’re talking to is who they say they are, without the danger of meeting in person.

Watch: "We matched on Tinder then moved in together two weeks after meeting - now we're married"

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