Cyber-stalking refers to the use of the technology to pursue, harass or contact someone in an unsolicited fashion. The Internet, e-mail, cell phones and other electronic devices can all be used by cyber-stalkers – usually anonymously – to keep tabs on their victims.
Spyware, also called surveillance equipment, can enable a stalker to track the victim’s every move on the computer, including the ability to read all e-mail messages sent and received. If a stalker has or had access to the victim’s cell phone, he can track down her exact location through the use of an Internet program.
The following information will increase your awareness of cyber-stalking and can help decrease your
risk of exposure to it:
Avoid chat rooms and create gender-neutral usernames for your e-mail address.
Only use your primary e-mail address for people you know and trust. Set your security levels high to avoid unsolicited e-mail from others (your Internet service provider can help you do this.)
Create a free email account for all your other online activity and junk mail.
Do not fill out profiles or surveys. When signing up for an email account or online registration, fill out as little information as possible about yourself.
Do not read or respond to e-mail messages from people you don’t know.
“Google” yourself: Enter your first and last name into a search engine, and see if there are any results. Major search engines include www.google.com or www.yahoo.com
On sites that provide personal information for a fee, (such as www.zabasearch.com), you may be able to request that your personal information be deleted.
Enter your area code and phone number into a search engine (www.google.com, www.yahoo.com) to see if it brings up your name and address. If it does appear, you should be given the option to delete this information.
Instruct children never to give out personal information online – such as name, address and phone numbers. Monitor your children’s computer use to make sure they are not giving out personal information.
Be very cautious about posting any pictures of yourself or your children online, or allowing anyone else (relatives, schools, dance/sports organizations) to publish any of your photos or personal information.
If you have reason to believe you may be a victim of cyber-stalking, it would be wise to change your contact information, such as changing e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Use public computers (at a library, school, etc.) for research/searches – this way the information can’t be tracked.
For more information on cyber-stalking, ask a Saving Grace advocate, your local police department, or contact the Stalking Resource Center at 1-800-394-2255 or www.ncvc.org/src, or the Safety Net Project.