Technology tips for domestic violence and stalking victims
From The Federal Trade Commission
Article date: February 5, 2015
by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, Attorney, FTC
We love technology. So it’s disturbing when it’s used to threaten or harass people – especially domestic violence and stalking victims.
With computers and mobile phones, abusers have more tools for stalking. They can install spyware to hack into your email, use Bluetooth or GPS to track your every move, even secretly turn on your device’s camera or microphone to watch and listen to you.
Online safety is important for everyone but for domestic violence victims, these tips may be particularly useful:
- Use strong passwords and change them frequently. Make sure you have passwords on your phone, computer and all online accounts. Keep your passwords private.
- If you think someone may be monitoring you, then try to use a safer computer – one that the abuser does not have access to. It’s especially important to use a safer computer if you are researching an escape plan, new jobs or a place to live.
- Change usernames and passwords of your online accounts on the safer computer. Then, don’t log into those accounts on any computer that you think is monitored.
Abusers may not stop at your computer. If you’re using a mobile phone, here are a few more things to consider:
- Know where your phone is at all times. Malware, spyware and tracking apps can be installed in just a few minutes.
- Check your phone’s settings. Bluetooth and GPS can be used to track you. A victim advocate can help strategize a specific tech safety plan for your situation.
- If you think your phone is being monitored, get a new one. The safest thing is to get a new phone with an account that the abuser does not have access to. Remember to put a password on your new phone, then disable Bluetooth and GPS.
Additional information and resources on domestic violence are available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. If you think you may be in danger right now, call 911.