Every January is National Stalking Month. Stalking continues to escalate as our modern tech devices allow someone with even basic technology skills to stalk and harass their victims. Airbags have been at the forefront of the news as the type of tech used to track people, but they aren't the only devices stalkers can use to track your location. Abusive partners can also zero in on your location using your fitness devices, smartphones, tablets, computers even social media accounts. If you are dealing with a stalker, follow these tips:
If you're in an abusive relationship before you take steps to cut off your abuser from access to your devices and accounts, keep in mind that in some cases it could be risky as an abuser could react with anger. If you need help, reach out to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. They have trained experts who can walk you through ways to protect yourself and build a safety plan, and give you referrals to local domestic violence counselors. You can also call the hotline at 800-799-7233. If you do call the hotline, do it from a phone your abuser doesn't have access to like you work number or a family member or a friend.
When trying to protect yourself from stalkers, start out with the basics, doing things like changing passwords and changing the privacy settings on your online accounts. Many times, abusers are getting information about you through social media check-ins, shared calendar apps, email, location sharing on navigation tools or other apps, or your friends who don’t know about the abuse. Also, the perpetrator could have physical access to your phone or be able to log in to your mobile phone account to look through call logs, text messages, and billing records.
Here are some other things you should be checking out for.
Find my device for Windows, Apple, and Android devices are good to keep track of your lost items, but it could lead a stalker to you. If someone is stalking you, turn off Find My Device to keep your location secret
If you have an abuser, make sure you always check for mobile tracking devices in your personal belongings. Take care in crowded public places like bars, sporting events, or even shopping. Do a personal check to make sure someone hasn't slipped a tracker in your pockets, purse, or backpack.
Apple and Android have software to detect mobile trackers. Use it often. If you locate a device near you, find it and remove the battery. Airbags have batteries just like a watch. Remove the battery.
How to scan for AirTags: If you use an iPhone, Apple will send a security alert to your phone if an unknown AirTag is following you, if it’s not near the AirTag owner’s device. However, this doesn’t happen immediately. If you receive a security alert, tap the alert and follow the instructions, and check the “Find My” app under “Items.” Even If you don’t receive a warning on your phone, you can still check to see if there are any AirTags associated with your account on your iPhone. You can also try the third-party app AirGuard.
How to scan for Tiles: To use Tile’s Scan and Secure feature, download the Tile app on your phone. (If you already have the app, make sure you have the latest version.) Then open the app, tap “Settings” at the top right corner of the screen, scroll down and select Scan and Secure, and tap “Continue.”
How do I scan for Samsung Smart Tags: Open the SmartThings app, and then press the button on the SmartTag. A popup will appear once the SmartTag is detected; select Add now. Note: If no popup appears, tap Devices, tap Add (the plus sign), and then tap Add device. Tap the By brand tab, and then choose Samsung.
If you have joint Apple or Google accounts, it's time to ditch the old one and create a new one. The same goes for social media. Abusers can locate you via your social media accounts.
Don’t Forget Connected Devices
If you use any apps that control connected gadgets, such as smart lights, door locks, thermostats, and even fitness trackers, make sure to change the sharing settings and set up MFA for those as well. These apps can give away information such as when you’re home or when you’re exercising or out and about.
Contact law enforcement. If you find an unknown device tracker, turn it over to law enforcement and they can use the serial number to locate the offender.
Hopefully, this has given you an explanation of the importance of National Stalker Awareness Month and how it impacts you. If you have an abusive partner or stalker, always make sure you follow the above advice to stay safe. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!
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