5 Ways to Tell If Someone Is Cyber Stalking You

July 1st 2016

We've all been guilty of internet creeping at some point in life.

Some people scour the social media feeds of former paramours, enemies, and professional rivals when they want to feel better about themselves. In some cases, they might also be genuinely curious about how these individuals are doing without having to ask. It qualifies as creepy, because the other person likely has no clue they're being watched online.

For many people, this kind of behavior is harmless. But for others, internet creeping can become something more sinister, such as stalking.

With the rise in technology and the internet, stalkers have a greater opportunity to prey on their victims, often without the victim ever knowing it. About 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States, the Stalking Resource Center reported. And about one in four stalking victims report experiencing some form of cyberstalking, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

StalkSalTheColourGeek/Flickr -

ATTN: spoke with Mike Proctor, a retired California police detective and author of "How to Stop a Stalker" and "Antidote for a Stalker," and cyberstalking expert Jennifer Perry about when internet behavior becomes stalking. Here are some signs that you're dealing with an online stalker and not simply a run-of-the-mill internet creep.

1. The person looks at your social media accounts obsessively.

Domestic stalking is the most common form of stalking, according to Ronald M. Holmes, an emeritus professor of sex crimes, serial murder, and criminal profiling at the University of Louisville.

Perry told ATTN: via email that obsessive checking up is typical among people who don't want to move on from a breakup.

"We all check up on ex-partners or people we meet," Perry said. "Just to see what they are doing: Have they moved on? Are they dating? However, if you are checking on someone multiple times a week, then that is obsessive. The most common time people become obsessive is when they break up."

Perry recommended deleting social media posts that could potentially provoke an actual cyberstalker and trying more private forms of social media:

"Review and remove material online that you think will feed their obsession. Think twice what you put on, it can be a trigger. There have been people murdered because they changed their online relationship status or put up a photo of a new boyfriend. Switch to more private social media platforms such as Whatsapp."

2. The person is always trying to find new ways to get you to engage back, even if you repeatedly ignore their efforts.

"Stalking is a substitute for a relationship," Perry told ATTN:. "You are trying to communicate with them, keep up with how they are feeling, what they are doing even though they don’t want you to. Victims describe it as mental rape, because you [are] forcing a person to engage with you against their will. The victim is having to respond to their stalker."

In some cases, stalkers may spread rumors about their victims to escalate the situation and get a response, she said:

"[The victim] may have to take action to secure an account, address malicious rumors, [and] avoid certain places."

Proctor suggested tracking all of this information so you have a paper trail of the person's behavior:

"We always tell everybody to document, document, document. Keep everything: all the emails you've gotten, anything suspicious."

3. The person also bothers your loved ones.

"Stalkers are fixated, obsessive," Perry said. "They will look at your social media several times a day. They also review material they have, looking at photos over and over again. They will also look at [a] friend’s social media to try to get more insight and information. They contact friends and family. They will pretend they are worried about you or the opposite and send [your loved ones] pictures or information to humiliate [you]."

Perry advised stalking victims to keep their loved ones in the loop about being stalked:

"Tell your friends and family you have a stalker, [and] make sure they aren’t disclosing information about what you're doing, where you are going to be, etc."

4. The person gets access to your personal information online.

"Stalkers spend hours thinking about their victim, trying to hack your online accounts, fantasizing. They will try to access every part of your life," Perry said. "It’s disrupting [and takes] a lot of energy and resources to counter the stalker. It’s exhausting, frightening, and it often leaves victims [suffering] significant psychological trauma."

To prevent this from happening, Perry recommended making a new email account, updating your passwords, and setting up a "two step authentication on all your key online accounts, starting with your email and smartphone." She recommended doing this with social media, e-commerce, and bank accounts.

"Use a good antivirus that also offers anti-spyware protection on your computer and your [phone]," Perry said. "Spyware is a piece of software that is sent to you in a message. When you open the message it installs on your device. This software gives the stalker access to whatever is on the device. It’s more common than you think."

Proctor made similar remarks in a phone interview with ATTN:

"When these guys send you an email, and you download something off of it, you have a key logger on there, and this guy can find out whatever you're doing all the time and who you're sending your information to."

5. The person seems to always know where you are.

StalkGlen Young/Flickr -

"We'll get victims who say, 'The guy knows exactly where I am all the time. I don't understand. I'll be at Broadway and Seventh, and he'll be able to tell me that I've been there at this time,'" Proctor told ATTN:. "That's when we tell law enforcement to go out and search your car. You can buy GPS trackers off the internet, and they're like little tabs. They stick them on the vehicle, then they go on the internet, pay $40 or so, and they are tracking the car. The internet doesn't know you're a stalker; the internet just knows you paid $40 to track a car. There are a lot of people who track their cars for business, so they sell the programs and the GPS generators. The internet is a tremendous thing, but then it's also a bad thing."

If you are the victim of stalking or know someone who is the victim of stalking, you can go to the Stalking Resource Center's website for help. You can also call the Victim Connect Helpline at 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846).

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