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Robert Lee
How To Maintain Your Privacy And Safety When Meeting People Online

5 Rules To Maintain Your Privacy And Safety Meeting People Online

Protecting yourself online goes beyond falling victim to sales spam or phishing attacks that try to trick you to reveal your personal information.

You need to know how to protect yourself from the "cyber stalkers" that can terrorize online buddies, email friends and dating service love interests.

Follow the 5 Rules For Online Safety and you will not easily fall victim to harassment online and "cyber stalkers".

Rule #1:

Use a website based email address to sign up for anything online! E-mail services such as available at Hotmail, Yahoo and others allow you to send and receive email without revealing any personal information. The email address that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gave you, surprising enough, will send along with the email message headers plenty of personal information describing your location, your ISP, sometimes even your real name.

You can protect yourself by using free web based email service addresses for any program, club, dating service, newsletter, discussion list, forum or anything else that requires an email address from you. Of course, the beginnings of protecting yourself starts with signing up for an anonymous email service using your ISP given email address to begin with. Look for a service that provides forwarding of email messages to your ISP email address. This way, should you change ISP's you can change your forwarding address only, and not have to email everyone you know about your change of address! offers this service. Check them out!

Rule #2:

Never add an unknown person to your Instant Messenger service. Did you know that some versions of IM's will expose your Internet Protocol (IP) Address? Read the privacy information available on any IM service you are using and understand how to protect your IP address, your private email address and any other information that may be displayed to someone sending you a message. Never send or reply to a message from someone you don't know!

Rule #3:

For every service you join that asks you to create a username and password be sure to choose unique names, never use the same nickname twice. Most services will ask for you a user name, nickname, account name or some other such identifier that you use to log in with along with your password that is revealed to other users. It is very important that with each and every service you sign up for you have a unique user name (identifier). If someone decides to give you too much attention online, or starts "cyber stalking" you, you should "move on" to the next service (after reporting them and closing your account, of course). But, if you use the same user or account name somewhere else, eventually they'll find you again! And again! And again!

Rule #4:

Know the service you are using. Almost every online service that asks for any type of personal information from you will have a posted privacy policy. Take the required time to read it. Make a copy of the email address you need to report someone that harasses you through that service. Save it with your user name and password information, wherever you write that down. If at any time you are uncomfortable about revealing private information about yourself, leave the form blank. If it is required information, contact the company and explain why you do not want to provide such information to them. Either you will learn more about their privacy policy directly from them or not receive a response at all. If you don't receive a response, consider it a blessing in disguise!

Rule #5:

What to do if you become the victim of a "cyber stalker".

Don't panic. Send an email to the service and report the person that is giving you unwarranted attention. Include details such as copies of emails and messages you have received, their user name and other information you know or have received. If the harassment has only been through electronic communication (online), close your account with the service where the harassment took place. Get a new account name and email address from your main ISP, or change ISP's. Cancel or close any web based email services and IM services that you have used to contact this person or that they have contacted you through.

If the harassment has been offline as well as online, contact your local police or authorities and make a formal complaint and statement against that person. Contact your local phone company and change your phone number.

Remember, the odds are in your favor that the people you meet are "normal" and will not harass you. But you can never be too safe and that is what we are trying to help you be, safe. Not paranoid, just safe.

These are the guidelines to follow to protect your privacy and a a beginning to keeping you safe online.

Robert Lee

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