What can you do to protect yourself from stalking?
- Use a private post office box address for all of your correspondence. Print it on your checks instead of your residential address.
- File a change-of-address card with the U.S. Postal Service giving the private mailbox address.
- Make sure you have an unpublished and unlisted phone number.
- Use Line Blocking to prevent the display of your telephone number and name on Caller ID display devices.
- Avoid calling 800 and 900 number services.
- Have your number removed from any Reverse directories.
The entries in these directories are in numerical order by phone number or by address. These books allow anyone who has just one piece of information, such as a phone number, to find where you live. Reverse Directories are published by phone companies and direct marketers.
- Let people know that information about you should be held in confidence.
- Do not use your home address when you subscribe to magazines.
In general, don’t use your residential address for anything that is mailed or shipped to you.
- Avoid using your middle initial.
- When conducting business with a government agency, only fill in the required pieces of information.
Certain government agency records are public records. Anyone can access the information you disclose to the agency within that record. Public records such as county assessor, county recorder, DMV and business licenses are especially valuable finding tools. Ask the agency if it allows address information to be confidential in certain situations. If possible, use a post office box and do not provide your middle initial, phone number or your Social Security Number. If you own property or a car, you may want to consider alternative forms of ownership, such as a trust. This would shield your personal address from public record.
- Put your post office box on your driver’s license.
Don’t show your license to just anyone. Your license has a lot of valuable information to a stalker.
- Don’t put your name on the list of tenants in your apartment complex.
If you must put a name for people to call to get into the gate, etc., use a variation of your name that you can give out to only your most trusted friends and family.
- Be very protective of your Social Security Number.
It is the key to much of your personal information. Don’t pre-print your social security number on anything, like your checks, for example. Only give it out if required to do so. Explain your situation and verify that it is absolutely necessary on forms. The Social Security Administration will now grant new social security numbers to victims of domestic violence. Contact your Social Security office for details.
- Alert the three credit bureaus, TRW, Equifax, and Trans Union, of your situation.
Ask them to flag your record to avoid fraudulent access.
- Use an answering machine to screen your calls.
- If you use email or other online computer services, change your email address if necessary.
Do not enter any personal information into online directories.
- Keep a log of every stalking incident, plus names, dates, and times of your contacts with law enforcement and others.
Save phone messages and items/documents sent in the mail.
- Consider getting professional counseling and/or seeking help from a victims support group.
They can help you deal with fear, anxiety and depression associated with being stalked.
- Make a police report.
Consider getting a restraining order if you feel that you are in danger. A restraining order legally compels the harasser to stay away from you or s/he can be arrested. Be aware that papers filed for a restraining order or police report may become public record. Put only necessary information in the papers and only provide a post office box address. (Note: Some abusers may react to a restraining order by escalating the violence. It is important to consider what the safest option is for you before obtaining a restraining order.