How to Avoid a StalkerNovember 5, 2012 by Melanie Swick | Be the first to comment »
Being stalked isn’t directly dangerous, however, the type of people who engage in stalking tend to be, let’s say, off-balance. And by off-balance, I don’t mean a little odd like that uncle who drinks more than he should and then makes inappropriate passes at your friends. No, I mean bat-shit crazy, boil your pet rabbit alive, “it puts the lotion in the basket,” off-balance. A stalker’s mental instability usually leads to very bad endings.
There are plenty of techniques for evading a stalker, but you’ll be far safer if you avoid them to begin with.
The first and most important step is to limit the personal information you share online. Facebook alone has over 1 billion users and I’m willing to bet that you are one of them. In most cases, that presents an enormous amount of publicly available personal information to any stalker willing to spend a few minutes in front of a computer. Information such as:
- Your full name
- The city in which you live
- Where you work
- Names of your friends
- Your interests and hobbies
- Where you like to eat
- Your political views
Those are just a few examples. Did you know that depending on your privacy settings, posting to certain social media websites may even disclose your exact location and the time you arrived for the world to see? Sure, it’s fun to share your life with friends and family, and the Internet makes that a lot easier; especially when they’re scattered around the country, but you need to be aware of the risks you’re taking. If possible, either limit your social media contacts to people you already know very well in real life and ensure that your profile can only be accessed by them, or do not post any personal information.
Guarding your personal information is just as important offline, too. It’s easy to disclose enough information for a stalker to track you down without even realizing it. Think about all the cars you’ve seen with a bumper sticker proudly announcing where the owner went to college, where their children go to high school, or even what neighborhood they live in. That friendly stranger who chats with you every morning in line at Starbucks may not be so innocent, and the vagrant rummaging through your garbage might be looking for more than his next meal. One seemingly trivial detail can lead to another, followed by another, and another, until eventually, they know everything they want to about your life. For an idea of just how easily someone with a manipulative personality can learn about you from one piece of information, read Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking; you’ll be shocked!
Conduct a background check whenever you hire someone. This does not apply only to business owners—we all hire people from time to time; for example, perhaps you’ve hired a landscaper, babysitter, or a contractor. Any one of these people, if unstable, could become obsessed with you and your life after just a single interaction. While a background check isn’t guaranteed to weed-out all wackos, it’s likely that a stalker has been in trouble before, so you may see a warning sign before allowing them into your life.
Avoid patterns, such as your route to and from work, what time you leave and arrive, or where you shop. The less predictable you can become, the more difficult it will be for a stalker to become interested in you to begin with, not to mention, find you.
If you want to make it damn near impossible for stalkers to find you, I highly recommend How to Be Invisible, by J.J. Luna. I recently read his most recent (3rd) edition of this book because I am what you might call “outspoken” when it comes to politics and society, so I have received more than my share of threats. I’m not about to compromise on my principals or values, but at the same time, I must keep my family safe, and making it harder for the crazies to find us is essential to that goal. The advice found in this book makes that possible.