Path of Strength

Trust your instincts. If the abuser knows too much regarding your whereabouts, it is possible that your phone, computer, emails, and other activities are being tracked. 

Computer

Use a safe computer. When you look for help, a new place to live, etc, it may be safest to use a computer at the public library, an internet café, or community center. 

Create a new email account with a new password from a safe computer. Use an anonymous name and password that the abuser will not be able to guess. Don’t open unknown attachments or attachments from the abuser.

Change passwords and PIN numbers. Some abusers access victims’ accounts fraudulently to track them, to impersonate them, and to cause harm. Thank about any password protected accounts you may have, including: online banking, medical records, voicemail, etc. If anyone abusive knows or could guess your passwords, change them quickly and frequently. 

Consider taking down your social networking pages such as Instagram, Facebook, etc. Information posted on these sites can compromise your safety through photos that reveal your location and through friends your abuser knows who link to your social site. Posts and online discussions  will probably be archived and could become available to the public through searches. If you remain active on social networking sites, be very cautious about listing any identifying personal information such as your address, phone numbers and e- mails. Be careful which photos you post and what information you make public so you avoid revealing where you and/or your children might be going, what events you will be attending, etc. Talk to your children, family members and friends about your need to maintain your safety and privacy on social networking sites and other online places so that they do not inadvertently place you at risk. 

Personal records 

Ask about your records and data. Many court systems and government records are published online. Ask agencies how your records can be protected, restricted, or sealed

• Get a private mailbox and do not give your real physical address. When asked by businesses, doctors and others for your address, have a private mailbox or PO box. Try to keep your residential address out of national databases. 

• Consider closing your chain store, auto repair, oil change, or other service discount cards. The information they track is put on searchable databases which a tech savvy abuser may be able to hack into. Often a clerk will allow you to use their card so you can still get the savings. 

Phone 

Use a donated or new cell phone. A family cell phone plan produces billing records and phone logs that might reveal your plans. Local domestic violence counselling services (Resolve Counselling Services Kingston and Interval House have information about new cell phones and prepaid phone cards. 

• Check your cell phone settings. If you are using a cell phone provided by the abuser, turn it off when not in use. Phones can be set to automatically answer without your knowing, in effect becoming a speaker. 

Most newer phones have GPS, which makes them capable of tracking you. Understand your cell phone options: you may want to turn off your optional “location setting.” 

To block your number press #31# before dialing the number. 

Delete conversations stored in TTY devices 

Minimize use of cordless phones and baby monitors. These act like speakers and can be monitored. A traditional corded phone is more secure. 

Search for your name and your phone number online. Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and switchboard.com have links to your contact information including satellite photos of your address. Search your name in quotation marks: “Full Name.” Do the same with your telephone number. Also, check phone directory pages because unlisted numbers may have been published if the number has been given to anyone. 

Phone Information 

There are some important things to know about privacy and safety when you use the telephone. Check with Bell Canada or your phone service provider for up-to-date information regarding the following services. 

USE CALL BLOCKING 

The person you call can find out your name and phone number even if you did not give this information. They can find out this information through phone services such as call display and call return. Even if you have an unlisted phone number and you call out without blocking your call, your number will appear on someone else’s call display. 

Call blocking keeps the person you call from getting your name and number. This is free. 

Occasional call blocking

Press *67 on your touch tone phone or dial 1167 on your rotary phone. When you hear three beeps, you will know that your name and number have been blocked and you can dial the number you want to call. You have to do this procedure before each call you want to block. 

Permanent call blocking: 

If you are a victim or potential victim of violence, call Bell or your service provider to permanently block your name and number. Then every call you make from that number will be blocked without you having to press *67 or dial 1167. 

LAST CALL RETURN 

A person can find out the telephone number of the last caller (even if the person was unable to take the call) by pressing *69. This service will not work if you have your phone number blocked, call from certain pay phones, or call from certain cellular phones. If you are living with your partner and do not wish them to know the last number called to your home, hang up after completing your call. Pick up the phone again, press a few numbers then hang up again.  Request that family members, coworkers, friends, etc. keep your contact information private. 

HARASSING TELEPHONE CALLS 

If you are receiving threatening or persistent phone calls, you may wish to use call trace. This service will trace the caller’s telephone number even if the call is blocked. However, Bell Canada or your service provider will only release the traced number to the police, if the police present them proper legal authorization. They will not release this information to you. To use call trace, hang up after answering the call. Pick up the receiver again and listen for the dial tone. Press *57 or dial 1157 (on rotary phones). A voice message will indicate whether the call has been traced successfully. There is a charge for this service.