Cyberstalking can be defined as “a crime that involves the harassing – and even threatening – of someone by using electronic means and/or the Internet.” The most common means of harassment is done by e-mail (electronic mail), IM (instant messaging), and by posting messages on Internet web sites. It can even involve identity theft. You may think you’ll never become a victim of a Cyberstalker. Tell that to the 1,006,970 women and 370,990 men who become victims every year. In fact, one in every twelve women and one in every forty-five men are stalked electronically. Here are 5 steps you should take to avoid becoming a victim of Cyberstalking:
1. Use Two E-Mail Addresses to Help Protect Your Identity
You should have two e-mail addresses: one main address you use for business and private communications. And one free account that’s used for all other communications. That way, if you visit chat rooms, post in forums, blog, sign up for newsletters, product samples and other freebies, et cetera, you can use the second e-mail address and keep the first one private.
2. Use Sound Judgment When Sharing Your Main Address
To help yourself from becoming a victim of Cyberstalking, use sound judgment when you give out your main e-mail address. Only give it to family members and friends you know well and can trust. And then, tell them you do not want your e-mail address given out to any third parties.
3. Choose Safe User ID’s For All of Your Electronic Accounts
You should choose a user ID that protects your identity, as well as your sex. Women are more likely to become victims of Cyberstalkers than men are. Avoid cutesy names too. A screen name like “Moonraker” is more appropriate than “LuckyLady”, for example.
4. Keep Your Personal Information Private
Never post any personal information that a Cyberstalker can get ahold of on Internet blogs, posts, forums, et cetera. Examples of this includes your real name, address, date of birth, age, phone number, cell phone number, and social security number. Even if you mention your hometown or certain landmarks where you live, a Cyberstalker can still locate you if he/she really wants to.
5. Limit Your Postings to Only “Safe” Websites
Don’t post on Internet websites that anyone can post to without signing in first. Also, the best websites make their members sign-up by using the e-mail addresses they have with their Internet service providers.
Only visit reputable websites that have established an anti-harrassment policy they enforce.
If you find yourself being Cyberstalked, tell him/her that you want the harrassment/threatening to stop. Keep copies of any correspondence that can prove you are a victim of Cyberstalking. Report the incident to the website if the crime was a result of you posting on that certain site. Also, report the incident immediately to your Internet Service Provider. If need be, you can request that your user ID be changed, as well as your password.
And finally, contact The National Center for Victims of Crime. This organization has a Stalking Resource Center you can use to learn more about Cyberstalking, the laws against it, and get even more help and assistance.