Safety tips if you think you are being cyberstalked

Suggestions on how to keep yourself safe if you are being stalked or harassed online

Safety tips if you think you are being cyberstalked:

  • Choose a gender-neutral username and mail address when communicating online. Do not use passwords that are easy to guess. Never use identifying information such as your name, address, birthdates in your password. Do not use pet names. Use a combination of letters, symbols and numbers to make it impossible to guess your password. Never share your password with anyone including people who claim to be from your Internet service provider, bank customer service, or other online service.
  • Use a free e-mail account such as Hotmail (www.hotmail.com), YAHOO! (www.yahoo.com), or Gmail (www.google.ca), for newsgroups, social network sites, mailing lists, chat rooms, IMs, e-mails from strangers, message boards, filling out forms and other online activities.
  • Do not give your primary e-mail address to anyone you do not directly know or trust. Tell anyone who does have your address not to include it in group e-mails.
  • Limit or avoid the use of social networking sites such as Facebook or Instagram. If you do use them, do not put identifying information in your profile. Use the security features to allow only known friends and associates access to your profile.
  • Tell your friends that you do not want them posting any pictures or information about you on their social networking sites.
  • Only use computers that you trust are secure and make sure that all operating system and application security updates have been applied. Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software running and that it’s current.
  • Trust your instincts. If you suspect an abusive person knows too much, it is possible that your phone, computer or e-mail have been tampered with and your activity may be monitored.
  • Disable the GPS functionality on your camera or Smartphone.
  • Plan for safety. Stalking can be very dangerous, even if it is over the Internet and the stalker is not trying to contact you directly. Talk to someone who can help you create a plan to protect yourself.
  • Save and document everything. Even if you are unsure about calling the police, it is a good idea to keep a log (write down information) about all incidents. Write down the time, date and place of each contact. If you get harassing messages by e-mail, do not delete them. Save them and print off a copy of each message for your records as well. If you make a report to police or if you decide to apply for an emergency Protection Order, the printed messages can be used as evidence.
  • Save all threatening or harassing text messages or voice messages received on your cellphone.
  • Conversations on cordless phones can sometimes be picked up by radio scanners that allow eavesdropping. Whenever possible, avoid using cordless phones for sensitive conversations. It is illegal in Canada to intercept your phone calls without your permission. If you know this is happening, report it to the police.
  • If you think the person stalking you may have access to your e-mail, start another private account that includes no personally identifiable information in your user name. Make sure you use a secure password. Do not use this address for any social network contacts such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
  • Find out how accessible you are on the Internet by searching for your name on a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. It is helpful to know what information about you is available on the Internet. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo may have links to your contact information.
  • Report computer harassment to your Internet service provider as well as the Internet service provider of the person harassing you.
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