The technological advances have brought many benefits to society today. Consequently, it has also opened doors for other people to further their dangerous agendas. The digital age has brought harassment to a whole new level in the form of online stalking.
Cyberstalking is simply defined as harassing or threatening an individual online while remaining anonymous. This can be done through various social media apps, blogs, photo sharing sites, or email. According to a recent survey, nearly 6.6 million people in the United States are stalked each year. It also states that women are more likely to be victims of cyberstalking than men. Due to the anonymity the Internet provides and the absence of a unifying law against cybercrimes, more and more perpetrators are encouraged to engage in these acts. Fortunately there are a number of ways to protect yourself.
We list down 6 ways to avoid becoming a victim of cyberstalking.
1. Avoid Posting Personal Data on Your Social Media Accounts
Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have made sharing information easy but more dangerous. Most people wouldn’t think twice about posting their personal email address, mobile number, or even their real home address. This makes it easier for stalkers to get a hold of your information and use it to harass, or worse, hack into your other accounts. Your personal information can sometimes be used to get past your credit card security and other financial accounts. To avoid being the target of a stalker, consider using a separate email account every time you register for social media apps. As much as possible, never post your home phone number, birthday or real home address, especially if you have public accounts.
2. Conduct an Internet Search of Your Name Regularly
You may not be posting things about yourself, but you can’t prevent all your friends from posting your photos and other information about you. Keep your name and identity protected by doing a regular search on the Internet. By doing this, you can prevent a cyberstalker from spreading false things about you through a blog, Craigslist account, or webpage. Once you find false information about yourself online, you can contact the website or the server administrator to request that the content be immediately removed.
3. Be Mindful of Your Passwords
Never underestimate the power of a unique password. Stalkers have a number of methods of trying to hack into their victims’ account, and passwords are your first line of defense. This is why they have to be unique and strong. Don’t use personal information such as your birthday, your anniversary or the place where you were born. Experts also recommend changing all your passwords every year. Answers to your secret questions should also be hard to guess, in order to give hackers and cyberstalkers an even harder time breaking into your accounts. More importantly, do not write your passwords on paper or share them to strangers.
4. Be Wary of Emails, Texts, Phone Calls that Asks for your Personal Information
A popular means of online marketing today is doing a survey. A representative of the company can call, email, or text a survey form to you. These survey forms usually ask you to verify your identification and provide personal information. If you feel suspicious about the activity, you can always opt to decline whatever it is they’re offering. If you want to know more about the product, try giving away secondary information like a work address or phone number and an alternate email address. Under any circumstance, never reveal your credit card identity pin and your social security number.
5. Change all Account Security If You Are Leaving a Relationship
In most incidents, the victims’ former partners are usually the ones who are behind cyberstalking, says Darrin Giglio, a Manhattan private investigator. Especially in cases where there has been abuse, the dominant partner will still want to control his ex-partner even after the relationship has ended. Cyberstalking is the perfect tool for them to exert their power. If you are leaving a relationship, especially an abusive one, consider changing all your passwords or creating new accounts online. You also need to remind your bank that you are no longer in a relationship with this person and that he can no longer access your account – this is especially true for those who have a joint bank account.
6. Seek Professional Help If You Are Being Cyberstalked
If the harassment and stalking escalate and make you feel unsafe or threatened, it is important that you enlist the help of trained professionals. Aside from reporting the incident to law enforcement, you can also seek the help of private investigators, especially if the stalker’s identity is still unknown. Reliable PIs conduct thorough surveillance and research to help find your online abuser and collect data against him. The faster you take action, the less chances the stalker can inflict permanent damage in your life.
Online stalkers get off on the rush of being able to render their victims helpless. They find ways to permeate important aspects of their victim’s life and, in turn, control them with just a click of a button. Thankfully, you can avoid becoming the target of online harassment by being cautious about your online information, protecting your passwords, and asking for professional help. Only by staying vigilant about your online information can you ward off unnecessary attention from possible stalkers.