Strangers can find you right now, here is how you can stay safe

November 23, 2016

creepyguy_stalking_girl

If someone really wanted to get in contact with you and didn’t even know your name, they can very easily get their hands on your phone number.  After receiving a random phone call at 3:30 am from a number I didn’t know,  I instinctively took to Facebook and searched on the number.  What I discovered next completely stunned me, the phone number belonged to the Facebook profile of the man living next door.  I knew it was him as we crossed paths twice that very day, exchanging pleasantries.

What scared me the most was how did he get his hands on my phone number? And what would posses someone to call a complete stranger at 3:30 am? My mind was racing, I discovered that I was tracked and trackable.  My exact location could be found if someone went looking for it.  

A step by step guide on how this random man may have found me is detailed below.

1. He found my profile on Tinder

Yes,  it was pretty easy to do and even though I hadn’t used the popular dating app for many months I was still discoverable in peoples search feeds i.e. if people knew my location and what I looked like.  I also use my real name on there and having such an unusual name kinda sticks out.    This man simply searched for anyone within 500 metres and bingo I was one of only a handful of people that was discoverable in that local vicinity.

2.  He found out my full name

After finding out my first name he simply searched for my name on Facebook, my profile has both my first name and last name.

3. He found out my personal mobile telephone number  

Powered with my first name and last name now all he had to do was conduct a google search for Meray Azar’s phone number and BAM! He just found out my phone number.

4. To be doubly sure

He may have wanted to make sure it was me next door, so he simply checked his bluetooth and found my devices were called Meray’s phone and Meray’s computer.  He would of also matched my Tinder photos to my Facebook profile images to make sure it was me.  Don’t forget; he already knew what I looked like as we shared an elevator and passed each other in the hallway earlier that day.   Powered with this information he just confirmed that I was the girl next door.

But the information about me doesn’t stop here,  a quick google search of my first name and surname reveal the following…

  1. Where I currently work
  2. A Blog article confirming who I am
  3. An old but current telephone number

I had a real WTF moment. I gathered my thoughts and went through the steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens to me again.   I want you to follow these steps too. 

Lesson learnt:

  • Turn off the location of all your apps when not in use

Turn off the location of your apps location and when you know you might be in a vulnerable situation, like staying alone in an unfamiliar house or city. To do this go to: settings>privacy>location services > toggle to off.  Alternatively, by simply selecting each app you can change the setting to “only reveal my location” when using the app (Do be doubly safe though, I tend to just turn off all locations in all the apps). 

  • Change profile names to just first name or a nickname (avoid sharing your surname)

Change your public profile names to a first name/ nickname. If you are like me and have a unique first name, I highly recommend just using a shortened nickname.

  • Don’t get too friendly with strangers

Smile, say hello and don’t reveal too much about yourself.  It is hard when you want to meet someone and open yourself up to the world of meeting like-minded people. Believe me I completely understand, but your safety comes first. 

It’s not all doom and gloom though

Do go out more and enjoy the adventure.  Get yourself out of the house, meet new people and share experiences that mean something to you.

Trust your gut

  • Do trust that at that given point you are going to be ok when you are in a public place
  • Do meet in public places
  • Do alert staff at the venue if you feel your safety has been compromised
  • Don’t meet at each others homes
  • Don’t go home with each other after a chance encounter or a first meeting
  • Don’t ride in each others cars. Either to or from the venue
  • Don’t share your home location be it via a device, verbally or letting them know where you live

FINALLY

Go with you heart, but take your head with you! 

****If you ever feel your security has been compromised or at any point you feel uncomfortable.  Please, please alert the venue staff and always share your exact location with loved ones or trusted friends.

If this or something like this has ever happened to you,  please share with us at hello@www.epicexperiences.co.

Lots of love,

Meray Azar

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