Cyberstalking is difficult to combat because the stalker could be in another state or sitting three cubicles away from the victim. In the anonymous world of the Internet, it is difficult to verify a stalker's identity, collect the necessary evidence for an arrest and then trace the cyberstalker to a physical location. In recent years, the attention the press has given to this new-age problem has helped to improve the situation.
All fifty states have stalking laws but only roughly one-third of the states have incorporated language relating to stalking through electronic means into their statutes. A handful of states such as North Carolina have enacted separate cyberstalking laws. A number of other states have created a variety of other specific offenses, such as harassing communications, unlawful computerized communications, harassment through electronic communications, misuse of electronic mail, and obscene electronic communications. To view the laws in your state, please visit the National Conference of State Legislatures site.
- Become familiar with the risks of technology and how it can be used to track and monitor activities.
- Stay safe online by being cautious of sharing personal information on social networking sites, using computers at other locations away from home and work, to avoid computers that may be compromised.
- Scan computers for malicious software.
- Ensure all computer security software is up to date and firewalls are turned on.
- Ensure that home wireless networks are secure with strong passwords.
- Regularly change passwords for online accounts and make them complex and not easily guessable.
- Gather as much physical evidence as possible and document each contact.
- Seek help from law enforcement and victim advocates.
- Contact the help line at the National Center for Victims of Crime (1-800-FYI-CALL) in order to connect with local services.
- Seek the support of trusted friends or family members – don't go it alone.
For more information about stalking, cyberstalking and more safety tips, please visit the following sites: