If you are planning on leaving
Stalking behaviour often starts before a women leaves her home. All victims should assume that their computer is being monitored.
Do not use your computer or existing e-mail accounts to make plans or inform anyone that you are planning to leave. Use a safe computer (one that the perpetrator could not have installed software on or that they monitor) such as a friend’s or a library computer.
Create a new e-mail account. Use a safe computer to set-up a brand new e-mail account. Don’t access the new e-mail account on your old computer – remember the abuser may be monitoring it. Don’t use password or security answers the abuser could guess. Only use this e-mail account to contact those helping you to make plans.
Don’t use your smartphone. When you leave, disable your smartphone so you can’t be traced. If you have and Android phone turn it off your smartphone and remove the battery. If you have an Iphone then all you need to do is turn it off to stops transmission of your data. Buy a cheap mobile phone. You can get them for £10 at a supermarket.
Check your car. If you plan on leaving in your car, check for a GPS tracking device. Consider using a taxi/bus or meet a friend in the next road. If you continue to use your car the abuser may try to find the car and you.
Change passwords As soon as possible, use a safe computer to change the password on your existing e-mail account(s) and mobile accounts e.g. Google, iCloud. At the same time, change any secondary contact e-mail address to your new account(s). Remember to change your social network accounts, online banking, eBay, PayPal, online stores etc. Call your mobile phone company and change the security PIN/passwords.
At the same time set-up 2 Step Authentication - this is the best way to secure your account see more information here.
E-mail accounts It is better to use multiple e-mail accounts. It means if the perpetrator gets hold of one of them you have an indication of where there is a security issue. It also means if he gets hold of one e-mail account the others are still safe to use. If you use a service like Google mail you can manage them all easily. (see Appendix E: E-mail – creating new accounts, pg. 51)
Create separate e-mails accounts for:
- most trusted friends and family;
- social networking – other friends;
- online registrations;
- financial account.
Making your computer safe If you want to start using your own computer again, then you need to buy anti-spyware software and run a full scan. If you don’t have antivirus software on your PC then you should also install one of these products and run a full scan. Microsoft Essentials is available free of charge.
Securing mobile phones
Use secure login/passwords Change your login/password to your online account Chose a password that the perpetrator will not be able to guess.
Always use a PIN or some other form to lock your mobile when you aren't using it. Activate your phone security settings so that after a minute of non-use, you have to put in a PIN before you can use the phone. Choose your PIN carefully, don’t use your birthday, anniversary, child’s birthday, 0123 or 9876 – they should be random numbers.
Mobile security software Invest in mobile security software. It will prevent spam and virus software on your mobile. Most of them provide call blocking using whitelists. If you suspect that the perpetrator had access and could have put spyware on the mobile then you need to buy software to remove it.
Call blocking Use either the call blocking features in your mobile security software or buy an online app that offers call blocking using ‘whitelists’. Call blocking using whitelists means that you can only be contacted by someone in your address book and all other calls will be blocked. There are options of what you can do with the blocked number such as send it directly to voicemail or hang-up.
Make sure you delete all contact numbers you have for your abuser and any other of his friends and family numbers that he may to use to contact you.
Apps Delete all apps that tell you where you are: maps, photos, check in, find my phone etc. You can reinstall the apps you want again later. When installing apps pay close attention to what you are allowing them to do. If the app asks for administrator access, say no.
Understanding geolocation Learn how to turn on and off your wi-fi, GPS and geolocation services, and change the default so that geotags aren’t added to photos or online posts. You don't want to give away your location.
Block the perpetrator – even if they aren't on your friends list. Also block all their friends and family. Don't assume that just because you blocked them doesn't mean they can't see your profile or posts. Use Instant messaging, email and text vs posting on social media
Be careful of adding any new friends. Perpetrators will often create fake e-mails and profiles of friends and family so you will add them to your friends list. Before you add a friend or family member just call or e-mail them to check they really sent you a friend invite. If they do use a fake profile block it immediately and inform friends and family on your friends list, asking them to block it as well.
Reduce your friends list. The more friends you have on your social network the easier it is for your abuser to find out information about you.
Change your privacy settings AND your security settings – see Appendix H: How to set Facebook’s privacy settings to increase security, pg. 55.
Tell your family and friends. Stalkers not only stalk you, they will also contact and follow your friends and family via social networks. Let friends know that he may try to:
- contact them;
- send a friend request;
- create fake profiles to send friend requests;
- chat with them to try to find out more about you, or spread lies about you.
Ask friends to:
- block the abuser and their friends and family – if they won’t do this, then you will need to remove them from your friends list;
- make sure that they have their privacy settings on friends only;
- not to post any contact details for you or respond to anyone who asks for them;
- not to post pictures of you or tag you in any photos (if they do, then remove the tags);
- let you know if the abuser contacts them or if they are using a fake profile.