For a generation obsessed with online and instant communication, we are often a little too trusting when it comes to who we talk to online.

We were the kids that grew up hearing “don’t talk to strangers online”, and the teenagers that decided there was no better idea than to do just that. So, here are a few tips on how to avoid having to call up MTV to dig up a catfish. Or, should I saw, “reel” one in…

1. Dodgy profile pictures

You’re never going to marry the girl from Tinder who has her bust as her profiler, that’s a given, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In the age of Instagram, everyone can make their pictures look spectacular, but look out for the particularly model-esque shots. Chances are, it’s not her you’re talking to…unless, of course, you’re unbelievably lucky.

Funny anecdote; I recently joined a site like Tinder, just to see what the craze was. Deleted it days later. But, during my brief online career I came across a girl claiming to be 18 and from Cork, but her profile picture was her standing by an American highway, wearing a t-shirt that said “Seniors 04”. Caught out. Google has a way of searching pictures, so just pop her profile picture into the search bar and see where else on the web it pops up.

2. Only sends pictures in DMs

If whoever you’re talking to will only send you a photo of their face in private messaging or emails, they are more than likely going to be fake. They do this to avoid being caught by the person whose photo they might be using, or just a random stranger that got a bit too nosy. If their profiler is the default photo, or a graphic image, stay away.

3. Mr/Mrs Perfect

I read once that one key characteristic of catfishes is that they all seemed to be too perfect to believe. Of course, if a real guy is talking to you, if he wants any kind of relationship with you he can’t lie and say he’s a brain surgeon – his friends will make sure you know he’s not. A catfish will look at your profile and build their whole personality around your interests because they won’t have to physically pretend to be something they’re not.

4. Always cancelling plans

Obviously, sometimes things happen and we have to cancel a date or meeting with a friend; that’s life. If your dream online romance, however, consistently misses dates, they clearly have something to hide. Especially in the case of sites like Tinder, that shows you mostly locals, there shouldn’t be much of an excuse to miss consecutive meetings.

5. Don't like talking on the phone

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. If your dream, beautiful lady friend Sarah, is actually hairy Hal who lives at home with his parents at 40, he’s not going to want to put on a girls voice for an hour to listen to you declare your undying love.