Cyber Stalking

Background

Ronke has been receiving some messages from someone claiming to know her daily movements, the person sends messages at odd hours of the day and is suggesting she will come

Ronke has been receiving some messages from someone claiming to know her daily movements, the person sends messages at odd hours of the day and is suggesting she will come to harm unless a pay-off is received. What is scary in this instance is that the person is usually correct about her locations and movements at every point in time.

Cyberstalking is a crime in which the attacker harasses a victim using electronic communication, such as e-mail or instant messaging (IM), or messages posted to a Web site or a discussion group. A cyberstalker relies upon the anonymity afforded by the Internet to allow them to stalk their victim without being detected. Cyberstalking messages differ from ordinary spam in that a cyberstalker targets a specific victim with often threatening messages, while the spammer targets a multitude of recipients with simply annoying messages.

In order to avoid or reduce the chances of being stalked online. Please observe these cyberstalking preventive  measures at all times.

  1. Keep personal documents in a safe. Consider keeping a personal safe for your home as well as a safety deposit box elsewhere. You can use your safe at home to protect items such as your social security card, birth certificate and passport.
  1. Protect your purse or wallet at all times. The best purses are those that can be zipped or closed shut. Try not to use bags that others can easily see or reach into, and keep bags close to your body with a tight grip at all times. Do not leave wallets or purses in the car, or if you must, do not leave them exposed or in an obvious place.
  1. Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Make copies of credit cards, ID cards, and all other personal documents you keep in your wallet. Also, keep records of phone numbers to contact in case you need to close accounts or order replacement items.
  1. Examine your bank account statements monthly to ensure that your accounts have no unauthorized charges. If they do, contact your banking institution immediately.
  1. Remove yourself from promotional lists such as junk mail and pre-approved credit card lists. This added clutter doesn’t do any good, and you are at risk of ID theft if a stranger gets their hands on your pre-approved cards.
  1. Cancel credit cards that you aren’t using. There’s no reason to have open credit for the taking. Besides, the less credit you have open, the less you’ll have to monitor.
  1. Select passwords that are difficult for others to uncover. An impersonal combination of letters and numbers is the best.
  1. Protect your computer with anti-spyware and antivirus software. Make sure you keep them up to date.
  1. Do not reveal personal information to unverified sources whether over the phone or the Internet. Do not feel pressured to answer personal questions if you do not trust the source. Feel free to request verifying information before giving anything up.
  1. Shred personal documents before throwing them away. Anyone who is out to get you can learn a lot about you through trash papers (bank papers, bills, meetings, shopping list, etc) from the bin. To avoid this, purchase a shredder for your home and make sure you destroy paperwork containing personal information before discarding. This includes mail, credit card statements and even receipts.

 

What to do when you notice a Cyber Stalking Activity

  1. Make it clear to the stalker that you do not want any further contact with him or her through one message and save that message. If you send it by email, use the Blind Copy (BC:) feature of your email program and send a copy to yourself for your records.
  2. Save everything: Do not delete any emails or text messages. If you can, print out any emails and save them. Do not alter them in anyway. Save the original emails online because they may contain important routing information that can help law enforcement determine the sender.
  3. Have your own personal safety network of friends, family, and resources. Always let someone know where you will be and when you are expected to return.
  4. Contact your local law-enforcement agency. Oftentimes, the laws regarding cybercrime and cyber stalking are murky. Only a professional police officer can advise you about the law. Follow the advice and direction you are given.
  5. Make certain that if the abuser/stalker is an “ex,” there is no chance he or she had the opportunity to download any programs that aid in monitoring your online activity. Be aware of spyware and how it can give a stalker the ability to monitor all of your computer use.

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