To mark National Stalking Awareness Week, taking place 24-28 April, we’re highlighting how people can exploit digital channels to stalk and control others and the signs to look out for.
What is cyberstalking?
Most of us will be aware of stalking and what it entails, but you may not have heard of cyberstalking. In this modern world, as more means of communication are created, it also creates more opportunities for harassment.
Cyberstalking involves the same harassment behaviours as conventional stalking but in an online setting, such as social media or email, and can occur at the same time as physical stalking.
Signs of cyberstalking
Some examples of cyberstalking are:
- Unwanted or threatening emails/messages/texts
- Tracking computer and internet usage
- Monitoring online activity
- Creating fake accounts using the victim’s image or information
- Spreading false information about the victim
In most cases, the stalker is known to the victim, but due to the online setting of cyberstalking, it could be anyone in the world.
Effects of stalking
Stalking can have psychological and physical impacts on the victims. A study from 2017 found that 31% of victims had to take sick leave from work, and 25% had to relocate .
The effects can easily snowball into serious physical and mental health conditions and debt problems.
What to do
The cyber helpline suggests using a 5-step approach when dealing with a cyberstalker:
- Alert those around you
- Think about your offline security
- Check your privacy settings
- Reduce your online footprint
- Turn off location tagging when you post
You can read more of their advice by clicking here.
We work closely with Refuge, a domestic abuse charity, to help customers who have experienced domestic abuse – including stalking.
Check out their page on tech abuse for more information on how to spot signs of cyberstalking and tech abuse by clicking here.
At PayPlan, each of our advisors has received dedicated training to spot the signs of and support mental health and wellbeing. We also have a specialist vulnerable client team who can provide additional support. If you need any support with your debts, call us for free on 0800 072 1206 – we’re open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 3pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, you can visit www.payplan.com/bfawu to chat with us via live chat or for more information