Categorized as: stalking

Four Steps to Protecting Personal Information Online

Having your personal information, like home address and phone number easily found online can leave you vulnerable to identity theft or in danger to a stalker. If you care to make the effort, there are steps to conceal information available about you in many public record databases. Most can be done quickly and inexpensively, other methods can be more costly and time consuming.

Keep in mind, it is virtually impossible to completely remove information available about yourself from public record. Some public information can be controlled, while others can not. For instance, property transactions and most court records will always be accessible to the public domain.

These efforts below are very effective, but not guaranteed. Please follow these preliminary steps listed to do the best you can to protect you and your family.

Here are four effective, but simple steps to controlling information about yourself listed on the web:

1) Open a P.O. Box for both personal mail and bills. Submit a change of address to your new post office box. This is the most effective and inexpensive thing you can do to swiftly remove your current address from a majority of “search sites” and public record databases.

2) Having an unlisted telephone number does not make your telephone number invisible to the public. This is one of the largest the misconceptions people have about having an unlisted number. Un-listing your telephone number simply keeps it out of directory assistance and white pages. The best thing you can do to control the distribution of your telephone number is to start with a new unlisted number and block caller ID information from being displayed when you place phone calls. Telephone numbers that at one time were listed, and are later unlisted, are most likely already widely distributed in the public record domain.

3) DO NOT put your name, number or personal information on any form or application without checking to reviewing their privacy policy. You will be surprised to find out how many credit card companies, banks, financial institutions and government agencies share or sell your information unless you specifically request that they do not distribute it.

4) Mail a written request to all major search sites and information suppliers requesting your information be removed. Some will comply, others will not. Most reputable companies have such a policy in place and soon will offer assistance in helping you contact information companies willing to remove your information.

Safe Apps

Ten years ago, it was difficult to communicate to let family and friends know that you were safe. It was even more difficult to let them know you were in a unsafe situation. Now, we all have cell phones with GPS locators. This recent technology provides a safety net for cell phone users. The are multiple apps that provide ways to communicate with authorities, family and friends in emergencies or sketchy situations. Below are a few apps that are great additions to your current apps.

Watch Over Me

Watch Over Me greets you with a screen that presents two statements, ‘Watch Over Me While I…’ and ‘For…’, followed by two buttons. For each statement you fill in an action (‘walk home’, ‘walk to my car’, ‘take a cab’, ‘meet someone’, or add a new event), and a time frame . Once you’ve selected these specifics and tapped the ‘Watch Over Me’ button, the app takes you to a countdown screen with a round button to tap to confirm your safety, and a square button below it to tap to extend the watch session. If you don’t confirm your safety by the time the counter hits zero, the app contacts your previously designated friends (via SMS, email, or even Facebook) with your GPS location. Two other buttons remain constant throughout the app: the Instant Emergency Alert button, and a banner at the top that you can tap to unlock all the app’s features.

bSafe

bSafe has some of the same features as Watch Over Me—for instance, it allows you to add contacts (it calls them Guardians) who can follow you when you’re on your way home. Like the other apps, it has an SOS button that will set off an alert to your Guardians, with your GPS location. Once you’ve registered with bSafe, the app asks you to select Guardians from your contacts list. You’ll need to have at least one contact that can be reached via telephone; other Guardians can be accessible via text message or a combination of the two.  If you’re in danger, hit the red SOS button, and the app sounds an alarm, sets off a bright light on your phone, texts your location to your contacts, and calls a Guardian.

Circle of 6

The design is simple. It takes two touches to get help, so no fumbling or digging around for the right number. The design ensures safety, speed and privacy. GPS is integrated (using Google maps), and is only activated by you, and sent to your own Circle of 6. It uses icons to represent actions, so that no one can tell what you’re up to if they see your phone.

1. Car icon: Come and get me. SMS message reads, “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. My GPS coordinates are…”

2. Phone icon: Call me. SMS message reads, “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”

3. Chat icon: I need some advice. SMS message reads, “I’m looking for information, just letting you know.” This will link the user with risk-assessment tools and information about healthy vs. abusive relationships developed by content partners.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Like many of our Divas and especially our Atlanta Divas; who attended our Kicks & Flicks for this movie, I could not stop hearing about ‘No Good Deed’ and its plot.
As I sat with my mom in the theatre the question – Can this really happen? Popped up scene after scene.
We’ve all done it: answered the door, when we know we are not expecting anyone. Thank goodness for most of us, it is usually your friend, neighbor or postman. But what if they are not
In the first 10 minutes I saw a billion steps the main character played by Taraji P. Henson did absolutely wrong:

Here is a brief list just incase you missed the signs:
Open door for someone she wasn’t expecting.
Continue conversation with stranger then informed stranger that she was home alone
Left door unattended.
Invited stranger into the home.
Alarm pad not in use!!

The Divas In Defense team has put together a few hints so we can all avoid being caught on the wrong side of home invasions.

Know Thy Neighbor
The reason behind this is three-fold. Firstly, if you know the people who live around you, then you can tell much more easily if someone there is out of place. Also, in the event of an emergency, it’s a good idea to have at least one of your neighbor’s phone numbers (if not more) to reach out for help.

Stay Secure
There are many levels of prevention. There are the simpler measures (get a dog, which make for great deterrents; make sure doors have peep holes, and use them; make sure all locks are functional and that any outside fences are in good condition) to the larger ones (get an alarm that actually alerts a security service; install security cameras–even ones that are visible to any possible perps) to the really big guns (panic room, anyone?). Which of these you should employ ultimately depends on your personal circumstances, but all (or nearly all) of them are worth investigating.

When Precautions Fail

There are further measures you can take in the event someone does breach your home.

Have a pre-meditated escape plan: Know how you will quickly and safely evacuate you and your family from the house. Make a Meet Up Place!

Learn self-defense: This is not only from a physical stand point from the self confidence you gain from becoming Empowered over your own body. Attackers play on a victim’s vulnerability.

Let them take your stuff: They’re only there for your girl’s jewelry and expensive electronics…let them have at it! All of that stuff—ALL of it—is replaceable. You and your loved ones are not.

Don’t let them take you: As bleak as it sounds, whatever may happen to you wherever they take you will be far worse than what happens in the house. Be it by negotiation or by force, do not let home invaders take you or your loved ones.

Was this movie extreme, ehhhh I say yes but it was done correctly. It gained attention of everyone. The roles played by all characters can easily be reverse. Man home alone with his kids then a stranger knocks…

Three Safety Tips to Defend a Home Invasion

There’s no place like home!

Time and time again we chant, “Lord, let me make it home safely.” What if the same dwelling you find solace in is compromised? What would you do? Yesterday, an intruder armed with a machine gun entered the home of Oscar-winning actress, Sandra Bullock. After spending over an hour in her home, she managed to stay safe. See more of the story from CNN here.

Here are a few preliminary steps you can take to ease the stress of an intrusion:

  • 1. Have an evacuation plan in place. Knowing what you are going to do before you have to actually do it, makes life simpler. If you and your family (housemates) practice what to do in case of an invasion, fire or natural disaster, it can minimize the stress of finding everyone should there be an emergency. Have a place INSIDE the home to meet or escape to if someone breaks in. In addition, a place OUTSIDE the home in case of fire or following a natural disaster assists with an adequate head count. Put in place and practice often.
  • 2. Put that OLD CELLPHONE to use! If you, like most of us, change out your cellphone every couple of years; it’s likely you have an “extra” around the house. If a cellphone has had service at least one day, it is permanently registered with 911 and is able to make calls to emergency operators. It is recommended for you to keep an old phone in the “panic room” for access. Having to worry about finding your phone may not be as easy if you are in fear.
  • 3. Arm yourself with a “household” weapon if you don’t own a gun, stun gun or pepper spray. You can order some non-lethal weapons such as stun guns, pepper sprays or door stoppers and alarms from Divas In Defense. Something as simple as a stick or aerosol spray can act as your last line of defense if need be. Keep a weapon in your panic room and be prepared to use it. Instruct your family or housemates on the location and proper use of the weapon as well.
  • As self-defense teaches, preparation and awareness is a majority of the battle. Visit Divas In Defense to register for self-defense training.

    How To Date an Online Mate: Five Simple Steps to First Date Safety

    Grown tired of running into Mr. Wrong and are contemplating online dating; Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared!

    Here are a few safety tips to safeguard yourself for the “first date” with an individual you met online:

    1. 1. Keep a record of any pertinent information you have on the individual. Screenshot the profile of the person you are meeting, carbon copy friend or family member on any text or email confirming the meeting location.
    2. 2. Choose a well lit, public place for the first date. Restaurants, coffee shops, pottery painting places and lounges provide security and ample volumes for intimate conversation in a controlled environment. We recommend driving your personal vehicle to ensure yourself the option of leaving when ready.
    3. 3. Take a pictures and forward to a friend. Quick snaps of the license plate and/or a “selfie” with the individual, can easily be forwarded to a confidant. Should anything go awry, these simple photos can serve as a matter of life or death.
    4. 4. Keep friends informed of next steps and update your location constantly and consistently. Giving up-to-date information and progress can lessen a potential problem should the need for help arise. This is imperative to any potential future investigations.
    5. 5. Is your residence easy to camouflage? If you live in an apartment or community, meet the person in a community area like the mailboxes or close to street. Never let a first date pick you up at your door. If giving an address for GPS purposes, give a neighbors or crossroads.

    Feel free to download a “Free Guide to Online Dating” from WeLoveDates.com

    How To: 6 Diva Tips for Stopping Stalkers

    Did You Know One in Six Women Will Be A VICTIM of stalking?

    Let me guess, you thought only celebrities had stalkers? Think again!

    This growing epidemic which often leads to violence or murder, finally received its National recognition. On December 31, 2013, President Obama declared January as Stalking Awareness Month.

    Here are 8 tips for you to protect yourself from being a victim of stalking:

    1. Put a lock on your life!

    Technology, although helpful, is a gateway to multiple types of crimes. We are often overly concerned with remembering our passwords, that we create less secure ones for our own comfort.
    Create passwords that have high levels of security. Microsoft suggests having passwords with at least eight characters which DO NOT contain complete words.

    2. They’re Free Anyway.

    “Nothing in life is free.” Well, email can be! Using a simple “free email addresses” search on the web, we were able to find the “Top 11 Free Email Services” as of last month. Use multiple seperate email accounts for various purposes: personal bills and finances; a “sign up” account (for things you “sign up” for on the web); correspondence with family and friends; business

    3. There Are No Reservations, You Do Not Have To Check In!

    It’s understood how exciting it can be to stay social, using “selfies” and streaming video to connect with friends on the web. We strongly encourage not using the “check-in” feature on various apps to give your location until you are ready to depart. Apps like these keep an accurate account of your most visited areas making it easy to track and locate you.

    4. Shredding Is Not Only For Cheese.

    As hard as we try to be an eco-friendly Nation with electronic versions of everything; truth is, we still use paper. It would be understandably simple to mistake an overdue bill as junk mail when struggle is present. This is one of those good news, bad news scenarios. Good news: This too shall pass. Bad news: Personal Information and/or Identity Theft Invest in protecting your personal information, your local office supply store has inexpensive shredders (preferably one that shreds expired credit cards also)… Go get one!

    5. Okay, You Are Cute! Now Put Your Badge Away!

    If you are no longer at work, please take off your darn work badge. Do you realize having your name and workplace as a personal billboard is potentially life threatening? Someone can pose as a utility provider, mail man or jogger and have only those two things for you to feel comfortable enough to let down your guard if only for a few seconds. By calling your name and identifying where you work as a way to “me too” with you; those few seconds you are attempting to sort through your mental Contacts can allow an attacker to force his way into your home or you into his car.

    6. Safeguard Your Smartphone

    It’s funny how dumb our smartphones make us. Cell phones have evolved from a novelty to a necessity to many of us. Both parents and teens developed a dependency on them divulging every aspect of our lives willfully. It possesses our most personal photos; communication with family and friends and even our daily finances. If you could print all the information from your phone and put it in front of you, you would buy a vault to protect it. Add a simple pass code on your phone PIN, swipe or password to make your life line less accessible.

    Find out how to “Prevent Your Ex From Cyber-Stalking

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