Online stalking or harassment could involve stalking through social media, harassment by text message or humiliation by posting pictures or videos.
It can happen to anyone but it most often happens alongside other types of stalking and harassment.
There are steps you can take to keep yourself safe, but you should only do what’s safe for you.
Check social media account settings
Check the privacy settings on all your social media accounts.
The National Cyber Security Centre has advice on how to check your settings on all the major social media platforms (Facebook, X.com, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and TikTok).
Protect your devices
Protect your phone, tablet and computers by using a strong password or PIN, or use a combination of both.
Make sure you have antivirus and a firewall installed on your devices and that they’re up-to-date. This detects spyware that may have been installed on your devices and any files that are unsafe to open. Find out more from Get Safe Online.
Turn off location services on your devices and apps
You can easily be tracked if your location is activated on your phone or other devices. Some apps turn location services on automatically, but you can turn them off by going into your settings:
These trackers are used to help people find lost items, but if they're dropped into a bag or pocket, or they're hidden in a car, they can be used to stalk people.
If you find a tracker that isn’t yours, photograph it where you found it (if it’s safe to do so), and if you think it's part of a pattern of stalking or harassment, either report it to us or tell the officer who's dealing with your case, if it's an on-going case.
Internet of things and smart devices
These are internet-connected devices that include everything from doorbells to washing machines.
Some of these devices can be used by stalkers or harassers to eavesdrop, or carry out harassment.
If you have any smart devices in your home that have been set up by a stalker who no longer lives in your house, consider doing these things:
apply a factory reset to the device, then set it up from scratch with your own account
if it’s not essential that the device is online, think about disconnecting it
Change your Wi-Fi password
Change the password that you were given to begin with to a stronger password.
Avoid using social media or online banking when using public Wi-Fi as it’s often insecure and your details could be stolen. To stay safe while using public Wi-Fi connect to a virtual private network (VPN).
If you’re worried about being locked out of your bank accounts or someone limiting access to your money, speak to your bank. Some banks can flag an account that might be at risk.