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How to deal with stalkers
The Story of Peeping Tom
The term 'peeping Tom' is reported to originate in 11th century England. When the noble woman Lady Godiva rode through the streets in the nude, a request was made for none to look upon her. Instead of looking away, one man, named Tom supposedly looked upon her and was struck blind.
Lady Godiva was a real personage, although there is some debate about whether or not an actual person named Tom looked upon her. Some claim that William Camden, who wrote of the incident in the 1600's embellished the account by adding the Peeping Tom character.
Stalking is now everybody's problem
Stalking and stalkers are now an issue that everyone has to deal with. Whether it is an obsessed fan, determined investigators, nosy government bureaucrats or identity thieves, stalking is a new reality. Whether it is called homeland security or trawling, the following of your location and monitoring of your activities is stalking. Despite the fancy sounding names used to describe the tracking of your behavior, what is being done to you is stalking.
In previous generations, when someone was minding others business, it was referred to as being a busybody. Busybodies were viewed in a negative light and often scorned. They had a reputation for making your business and everybody's actions their business. The busy body was viewed as having no life of their own, preferring to live it through their meddling and spying on others. A close cousin of the busybody was the 'peeping Tom'.
The increased availability of technology and cameras has turned many elements of society into voyeurs. In the past, private investigators or police surveillance used cameras to take pictures of their targets. With the old technology, the stalkers were limited on the number of persons they could be stalking. With modern cameras and automation, stalkers are only limited by their imaginations. The increased incidents reported of cameras being found in bathrooms and changing rooms is one evidence of the misapplication of these modern technological advances. In past decades, the bathroom was often a place to get away from scrutiny, now it is one of the places where people are under scrutiny.
You are under surveillance in banks, public buildings, city streets, airports and other locations. Being under constant surveillance increases the temptation for the observers to track or stalk you in the event that attract their attention. It is no longer a matter of whether you did anything wrong. If they like the way you look or carry yourself, they follow you on their monitors.
The extent of the problem
Today's modern stalkers come in many shapes and sizes. They are no longer just 'dirty old men' or voyeuristic sexual perverts. The new stalkers can be just about anyone. The government stalkers often use their official positions to monitor what you do. In some cases, the monitoring is part of their job. With government programs like 'know your customer', many clerks monitor you and your behavior as part of their complying with government stalker programs. These clerks track your banking activities, spending activities and account balances. When your actions do not fit the pattern defined by the government policy, you are put under additional stalking.
There are also the law enforcement stalking programs. With the law enforcement, your behaviors are observed and compared to the 'established' profiles. In other words you are compared with other law breakers and if your pattern fits their pattern, you are given a label and the level of stalking is increased. The law enforcement stalking includes material you read from the library, pages you surf on the internet, items you purchase, places you visit and who you call.
Government stalking also includes schools. In the schools, there have been incidents where home computer cameras were turned on to monitor what happens in the home. There have also been many incidents of the school monitoring what students post to social media sites. When a student posts material deemed 'unacceptable', the stalkers quickly take action. Since stalking is so widespread in schools for a multitude of purposes, it is vulnerable to misuse.
If that is not enough stalking, then there are the private investigators and skip traces that are often hired to find people. Besides finding people, they monitor what you do, where you go, who you talk to, etc. In the past, they were hired by finance companies, banks or angry spouses who suspected something wonky was going on. These days, such services are hired by anyone who is nosy. With the internet some of the resources previously limited to investigators are now available for public consumption. For a small fee, anyone can perform extensive background checks on you. Whether it is a new employer, landlord, or neighborhood snoop, these services are open for business. Even angry family members can use these services to track you. They can find out where you live, your phone number, what your home looks like, the value of your home and how to drive to reach where you are at. When you have someone who seriously has it in for you, modern technology becomes a trap with limited escape options.
What you can do
With all the stalking that goes on, there are steps that you can take to reduce it. This is by no means an exhaustive list, although it will give you some ideas and places to get started.
1. Use cash for financial transactions.
2. Use hats and sunglasses when in public
3. Monitor what information about you is available on the internet
4. Be careful about sharing your home address with others
5. Change your travel patterns, including the way you drive home or to other locations.
6. Consider using secret buyer services for purchase of sensitive items
7. Don't just turn your cell phone off, consider removing the battery as well.
8. Don't give out your social security number.
9. Unlist your phone number.
10. have UPS/FedEx deliver packages to your business rather than your home.
11. Learn how to use anonymizers for internet use
12. Learn how to identify when keyloggers have been added to your computer
13. Learn how to identify when GPS trackers have been added to your car or cellphones.
14. Be careful about what you share in small talk with people at the store, school, and bank.
15. Be okay with not having complete profiles with phone numbers, addresses, etc. on social media sites or forms sent home from school.
Stalkers rely on knowing your address and the patterns of your behavior. When you can change those patterns or keep the location of where you live from prying eyes, you have taken the first steps to reduce stalking behaviors.