Did you know that one out of 12 women (8.2 million) and one out of every 45 men (2 million) are victims of stalking in the United States? With millions of children and adults that access the Internet every day, it’s not surprising that cyberstalking is a real issue within modern society. While technology is a great way to connect with others, it can also be dangerous when online users are not careful with their personal information. Continue reading to discover some useful tips to avoid becoming a cyberstalker victim.
What is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking refers to a person that is harassed or threatened by an anonymous online user. Virtual stalkers have a myriad of different options, including social media platforms, blogs, photo sharing sites, and even emails. Since these cyber stalkers can harass or threaten their victims from anywhere, it makes it hard to identify and prevent these crimes.
How Can I Prevent Becoming a Cyberstalking Victim?
On the brightside, there are some effective tips to help avoid becoming a cyberstalking victim.
1. Use Caution When Posting Personal Information On Social Media Platforms
In today’s social media driven age, most users do not think twice about posting their personal information for friends and family to see. This helps people stay connected that are physically apart, especially amidst a pandemic. However, it’s recommended that you use caution when posting your information on platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Many online users commonly post their phone numbers, personal email addresses, and even their home addresses for others to see online. If someone wants to cyber stalk you, you have made their job much easier. These cyber criminals use this information to harass, threaten, or even hack into your accounts. This could compromise your online reputation and put your financial accounts at risk.
To reduce your chances of becoming cyberstalked, you can limit the personal information that you post on social platforms. This includes your birthday, home address, and phone number. If your personal accounts are set to public, it’s a good idea to switch them to private, so your content isn’t accessible to the public. Another suggestion is to use a different email for each of your social media accounts. By having separate emails, stalkers can’t easily break into your accounts.
2. Regularly Conduct Online Searches of Your Name
Even if you aren’t posting content about yourself, you cannot prevent your loved ones from posting your personal information online. This includes your pictures and personal information. To ensure your name and identity is protected, you can search your name on major search engines. You will quickly find out if a cyberstalker is tarnishing your name and reputation on blogs, classified sites, forums, and social media platforms. If you locate false information about yourself, the best plan of action is to contact the owner of that specific website and request that the false content be removed immediately.
3. Create Strong, Unique Passwords
A strong, unique password is the first line of defense against stalkers trying to break into your online accounts. Unfortunately, many online users do not realize this and use easily guessed passwords, such as password or 12345.
Tips for Creating Strong Passwords:
- Use a random combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t use any personal information for your passwords that can be easily guessed online.
- Choose a meaningful password that you can remember.
- Avoid writing down your passwords on paper, as this can tempt people you know to tamper with your accounts.
- Never give out your password to strangers.
4. Be Cautious of Companies Requesting Your Personal Information
A popular method to reach new clients is for companies to send online surveys to people. This may be sent via email, text, or over the phone. The companies will have a standard script that they read, which usually requests some basic information about you. If the company seems suspicious, you should always trust your gut instincts and decline giving out your personal information. You are likely dealing with a scam company that aims to collect user information to sell it to third parties or to hack your online accounts.
If the company seems legit, you don’t necessarily have to give them your personal information. A safe alternative is to provide your work email, address, and phone number. Whether you believe the company is legit or not, never share your credit card or social security information with anyone that has contacted you.
5. Update Any Shared Accounts After Leaving a Relationship
Believe it or not, the majority of cyber stalkers are someone you know, such as a former partner. This is especially the case in abusive relationships. When you leave a relationship, the ex-partner may want to continue having control over your life. If you shared any account information with this person, it’s a wise idea to update these accounts, so they no longer have access to your personal information. For example, shared accounts may include social media, financial, and email accounts.
6. Seek Professional Help if You Have Been Cyberstalked
Perhaps you didn’t know about the above tips or you did, but they still didn’t help completely. Unfortunately, cyberstalking will continue to be a serious issue for millions of people across the globe, especially women, who are more likely to be victims of cyberstalking. If your cyber stalker continues to harass and threaten you, making you feel unsafe, it’s essential to contact your local law enforcement. Police officers will report the online harassments, which will keep a record of the stalking.
Keep a Record of:
- Every text, message, email, and phone call the stalker sends you.
- All false information they posted about you online (with links).
- All threats they send, including details of when and where.
Additionally, you can hire a licensed private investigator (PI) to assist you with your cyberstalking issues. This expert can help you identify and track down the anonymous stalker. By conducting surveillance and research, PIs will help you determine who your cyberstalker is and gather data needed for evidence. Don’t give stalkers the satisfaction of having more time, resources, and data to damage your life.
As you can see, there are some useful tips to avoid becoming a cyberstalking victim. The majority of these tips involve being cautious about posting and sharing personal information with others, which can backfire when accessed by possible stalkers. Contact PATRIOT Backgrounds and Investigations to learn how we can help you if you are a victim of cyberstalking.