Stalkers, like ice cream, come in many flavors and variations. Unlike ice cream, however, stalkers are unwanted and can be legitimately dangerous. The Bureau of Justice reports 25 percent of all stalking cases involve Internet communication.Whether a stalker is someone you’ve never met or an old flame, you should always take the appropriate precautions online to make it a little more difficult to locate you. Finding information on people in the Internet is so incredibly easy today, stalking is often just a matter of a cursory Web search and some light reading.
1. Look Yourself Up
You may be absolutely astounded to know what’s actually going on with your identity online. Your school play from 20 years ago may have been uploaded by someone with a full cast roster. Seem innocent? Well, this could list your middle name and home town, which could link to another site which has an old email address, which could link to your current blog.
If you want to protect yourself, you need to know what you’re dealing with. The Internet creates a web of connections that can be very difficult to break, and you’ll often need to sever the chain of information if you want to remain safe. Compounding this problem, information is often duplicated across the Internet and cached in random places around the web. Fighting off one site posting your personal information could only be the beginning.
2. Keep Your Private Information Private
There are a few things you never want posted online: your personal email address, your phone number and your mailing address. Under no circumstances should you allow these to become readily available. If they’re already available, identity protection services are available, such as LifeLock ID Theft, can add a measure of safety around your identity. Scammers and stalkers have used less information than that to find and steal from others.
3. Strangers Aren’t Friends
When you add someone as a friend on a social media site, you’re sharing an astounding amount of information with them. Your new friend will know where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with at practically any time of day. This can be extraordinarily dangerous if the person in question has bad intentions.
To avoid stalkers, only add people you know, and remember to remove anyone you’ve had a falling out with. Sometimes, you may even need to remove their close friends. Japan Times reported a case where a woman was barraged by hundreds of visitors simply because an ex-boyfriend was angry with her at the time. The ex-boyfriend was able to use knowledge of the woman to steal her social media account, and give out her address to individuals she didn’t know. This is also a fantastic reason to consistently change your login information.
4. Use Aliases
If you’re involved in something reasonably high-profile online, such as a popular blog, it’s often a good idea to adopt an alias. The strategic use of aliases can not only protect you from stalkers, but it can also help you manage your online reputation and keep areas of your life separate.
You may be surprised how much information can be acquired simply through the use of someone’s name. Computer Crime Research Center notes most people are particularly vulnerable to stalking when they are directly communicating with those online. If you happen to give out your real name in a chat room, you may not always know who will see it. The chat could even be logged and posted somewhere with neither your knowledge or consent.