Every Day Connected: Socialize
Dealing With Virtual Stalking
By Tara Swords for Every Day Connected
It’s scary enough to be the target of a stalker offline, but it’s even more unsettling to be the target of a tech-savvy stalker. Technology gives stalkers new and very effective tools for monitoring someone’s physical location and online and offline activities. If you’re the target of a virtual stalker, follow these steps to put an end to the harassment before it puts you in physical danger.
No. 1: Enlist a professional as your advocate.
Some forms of virtual stalking are obvious: harassing emails, threatening texts, false information posted online. Others are harder to detect, and some victims are unaware that their lives are being tracked. That’s why you should enlist the help of someone whose job is to help people fight off virtual stalkers.
“Victims can contact advocates and professionals who are aware of and knowledgeable about the use of technologies to stalk, and can talk through safety planning options with them,” says Rebecca Dreke of the Stalking Resource Center at The National Center for Victims of Crime.
No. 2: Document everything.
Don’t delete emails or texts, no matter how much they upset you. Print everything and keep it in a safe place so you have evidence of your claims if you need to pursue legal action.
“If the stalker is falsifying information about the victim online, the victim can consider contacting the site and asking that the false material be taken down,” says Dreke. But before you do that, she advises, take screen shots of the harassing material.
No. 3: Tighten your privacy settings.
Go to every site where you share personal information and adjust who can view it. Hit all of the major sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Classmates and LinkedIn, but don’t forget to tighten you privacy settings on sites like Flickr, Yelp, foursquare and Google Latitude too.
No. 4: Be alert for spyware.
If the stalker has ever had access to your computer or mobile phone, consider having them checked for spyware. “If spyware is on someone's computer, it can be very difficult to be taken off,” says Dreke, adding that cell phone spyware is another concern. “Oftentimes, the victim isn't aware that the spyware is even on the computer.”
No. 5: Trust your gut.
If you feel that you or someone you love may be in danger, don’t take chances. Call law enforcement immediately.
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