8 Alarming Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You

Alarming Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You

I definitely prefer to remain anonymous on my social media. The reason for this is because I’ve had issues with an online stalker before. And my blog and my social media is my escape from my real life where I can be free to be myself or even vent about my real life situations without any consequences. This is the only outlet I have.

For example, if I need to vent about work or my family or my friends or my neighbors, then it wouldn’t work out for me very well if any of them found out about it. I’d end up with some extreme negative fallout to deal with and many broken relationships too.

On the other hand, I’d end up severely censoring myself if I felt that my words could be visible to people in my real life. And if I censored myself here, then it would completely lose its purpose for me.

So anonymity is of paramount importance to me and I posted here about how I came up with my alias: Pepper Valentine. How about you all? Do you care about it as much as I do?

But this isn’t my first attempt at an anonymous online presence. I ended up having to completely shut down my previous attempts and go dark on the internet for a few years to recover after I had an online stalker obsessed with me. It was horrible.

It was a person in my real life that used this information they found against me, and threatened to use it to destroy my job and my relationships. The violation of my privacy was so painful. This was information that I never would have told anyone in my real life. But he found it. And took it. It felt like a theft of my most prized possession – my sense of self worth.

But I learned several lessons from this experience. And now I’m ready to try anonymity online again. But here is a list of the 7 disturbing ways an online stalker can find you…

1) Name Search. So I never used my real name online, but this is the most obvious way to find someone. Once the stalker knows your anonymous name however, you’re basically discovered on all social media platforms.

2) Phone Number / Contacts. Most social media accounts have apps to download on your cell phone. And once you do that, you are exposed to all your contacts. Most social media accounts make it an option to activate this. But don’t trust it. This option may default ON, exposing you immediately. And phone system upgrades may also default this option to ON. So if your stalker ever had your phone number, this is a major risk.

I ended up buying cellular service for my iPad, which comes with its own phone number that I’ve shared with NOBODY. And I only download my Pepper Valentine apps to this iPad. So there is no phone number cross-contamination with contacts to worry about.

7 Disturbing Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You / Image Source: Pepper V.

3) “People You May Know” / “Suggested For You”. This is another option on social media accounts, but don’t trust it either. Because it defaults to ON and may also reset back to ON with any system upgrades. It can use your contacts as well as your Friends list to recommend. The scary thing about this, is that you don’t have to be online friends with your online stalker. BUT if you share any mutual friends online, then this option will expose you!

I’ve completely cut off any potential mutual friends online in order to reduce this risk.

7 Disturbing Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You / Image Source: Pepper V.

4) Close Online Friends. My stalker knew who my closest online friends were. In order to find me, he would stalk their accounts too. He scoured their followings and followers, monitored their likes and comments to find who *seemed* like it could be me, and even befriended them himself under a decoy account to gather intel.

5) Decoy Accounts. Beware the people that engage with you online. You never really know who they are. My stalker would create many decoy accounts to try to access private accounts as well as lure the unsuspecting into giving him information about who they are following. He would maintain online relationships for MONTHS under his decoys to build trust. This is definitely a level of creepy that is unacceptable.

6) Email Address. I finally discovered that my online stalker would use my email address to validate if an account was actually mine or not. He knew my email. So once he suspected an online account might be mine, he would attempt the Password Reset… and, the results of the password reset would give him enough data (the first 2 characters, number of characters, and then the email service) to determine if that account was me or not.

I’ve had to create a new email address specifically for setup only of any Pepper Valentine accounts, and I don’t use it anywhere else (not even for my contact forms or subscription forms) in order to prevent this validation check.

7 Disturbing Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You / Image Source: Pepper V.

7) Hashtags / Tags. If you hashtag something that your online stalker is aware that you are involved in, then he may search the hashtags online and find you that way. For example, if he knows you went to the beach for a week or that you work at Jumping Jack Coffee, then he may stalk those hashtags online and the MINUTE you tag/hashtag that place, then he’s got your post and your profile exposed.

8) TikTok Users Who Share Links are Identified

They found me via TikTok. I was very careful to NOT provide TikTok with my phone number or email address when I created an account so nobody in my real life could find me there. BUT…

…there is a Privacy Setting in TikTok called “Users who open or send shared links”. And of course it was defaulted to ON (see screenshot below).

Anonymity Breach
Online Stalker / Image Source: Pepper V.

This person sent me a TikTok link via text because they know me in real life so they know how to contact me via phone and email. And I wasn’t being careful enough and I CLICKED on it!

And bam! As soon as I clicked on it, this person received a TikTok message “Pepper Valentine just viewed your shared link!” and DAMMIT! Now they have my online alias to EVERYTHING!

So that’s how my anonymity breach happened and how my online alias was discovered in real life.

In conclusion, if anonymity online is important to you, please take action to reduce your risks. It’s never guaranteed that you’ll be 100% safe, but you can be safer than normal with some precautions. Don’t trust people in your real life to respect your boundaries or your privacy. And also, don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want to get out in your real life anyway.

So what do you all think about my list above? Do you have any other online stalker methods that I might’ve missed?

Join my clique

No spam. Just occasional news, giveaway announcements, and Subscriber Spotlights where you can win a promo. Don’t miss out.

My First Subscriber Spotlight – BosssyBabe

Hi everyone, meet Jen from the BosssyBabe blog!  She’s my very first Subscriber Spotlight so I’m really excited to do this big reveal. 

Jen is a full-time working mom just like me, but alot funnier – no wonder I like her so much. She is from Canada, as an extra bit of info about her. You might’ve already seen her in my comments section on many previous posts, as she’s very active in the blogging world and I love that we’ve connected online.

Jen posts regularly and her content is incredibly relatable, especially regarding parenting and relationships and self-discovery. So I do highly recommend BosssyBabe if you’re interested in entertaining and insightful reading material. You can check out her full blog here

But the purpose of the Subscriber Spotlight is that we focus on one specific thing that Jen would like to promote, which is her latest post about marriage – the good, the bad and the ugly. And we all enjoy some decent drama every now and then, so I know you’re as curious as I am about the “ugly” part. She gets very personal about her 5 year marriage in her latest post named “Adventure of a Lifetime” so if you wanted a crash-course in getting to know someone and their life, this would be the perfect place to start. 

Definitely check out her new post here and drop some love while you’re at it.

P.S. If you are unfamiliar with my Subscriber Spotlight, it is a quarterly drawing of my email subscribers where the lucky winner will get a promotional blast of whatever they want (within reason, of course)BosssyBabe was the lucky winner for Quarter 2.  The next drawing will occur at the beginning of October.  Don’t hesitate to subscribe below to be included in the next drawing!

Join my clique

No spam. Just occasional news, giveaway announcements, and Subscriber Spotlights where you can win a promo. Don’t miss out.

What We Believe In

Thank you so much to Bill at the blog “A Silly Place” for inviting me to contribute to his post on things we believe in.

I just finished reading the other 9 contributions and I feel so inspired now by their words – ranging from the power of laughter, and the value of not wasting any time, and so much more! Definitely check out the complete post here if you want to read for yourself, as I certainly recommend it. These writers are fabulous wordsmiths.

Just speaking for myself, I had a difficult time coming up with a specific thing I believed in that wasn’t political or controversial, as I’m not interested in angering people. Lol, I want folks to like me darn it!

So I ended-up focusing on the big Simone Biles news from last week instead. Basically, I felt that she got alot less support from the public than she deserved bc her issue was mental instead of physical. And now I wonder if people who need help with their mental health don’t pursue that help because of a perceived lack of support in general. What do you all think?

Anyway, definitely stop by Bill’s round-up post of the things we believe in here. And I wish you all a great Friday evening!

Deadwood South Dakota and the Haunted Bullock Hotel

Deadwood South Dakota

Sorry I’ve been awol this week everyone but I’ve been on vacay! Still am, actually. Nobody guessed correctly my destination but I’m ready to reveal it now. We’ve been on a Wild West road trip through 3 states: South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Our first stop was Deadwood South Dakota and we stayed at the #1 most haunted location in the entire state, the Bullock Hotel, according to this top 10 list here. We flew into the Rapid City South Dakota airport, and Deadwood was a comfortable 45min drive from there.

And Deadwood was great as far as preserving the history and the stories of the Wild West days. They have several tours and if you want to cover everything you easily can, it’s all jam-packed into about 3 blocks. I heard that they do a daily reenactment too but we missed it unfortunately.

Here are some photos of the small town of Deadwood South Dakota, you may recognize the names of some of it’s most famous residents, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane…

We also stayed the night at the famous Bullock Hotel which is said to be the most haunted location in South Dakota. Apparently, Deadwood had so much lawlessness during those Wild West days that murders and tragic endings were the norm, so there is more than enough material to fuel all the ghost stories.

My only “weird” experience at the Bullock Hotel was that I was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of my hotel keys jingling. They didn’t use card keys, but the older metal keys on a metal keychain instead. And that’s exactly what I heard jingling. It freaked me out, but I didn’t pick up my head to look bc I didn’t want to see anything. So I kept my head buried in the pillow until it stopped. And then it stopped. And that was it.

Lol, too bad I don’t have a better haunting story for you all! But here are photos I took of the hotel and room 320 we spent the night in….

There are actually a couple of ghost tours in Deadwood to choose from. We ended-up chosing to do the ghost tour for the hotel across the street instead, the Fairmont Hotel, because it was featured on an episode on one of my favorite shows “The Dead Files” and I wanted to see it in person. They said it was also on an episode of “Ghost Labs” too but I haven’t seen that one.

It doesn’t look like people can stay overnight at the Fairmont Hotel anymore; it seemed to be a casino and restaurant/bar only now. But they do host the ghost tours on the 2nd and 3rd floors where the guest rooms should be.

I’ll say, the ghost tour would be very valuable even for those of you that aren’t interested in ghosts at all, because 75% of the tour was historical information and characters and context for how the Wild West days used to be. So I learned alot and not much about ghosts actually.

But it was still creepy for those of you that like ghosts too. The only weird thing that happened to me during the ghost tour through the supposedly haunted rooms of the Fairmont Hotel, was that I kept hearing my daughter say something to me, but I could never catch what she was saying, so I would turn and ask her “What did you say?” and she’d look at me strange and answer “I didn’t say anything.” But I swear she said something to me, so I’m quite stumped as to what happened there.

So here are some pics from the ghost tour…

Anyhow, that sums up how my visit to Deadwood South Dakota went. And I enjoyed it very much. I hope you all enjoyed reading about it.

If you’re into the haunted experiences, I’ve also visited a haunted castle in Ireland and you can check it out here.

Until next time…

Join my clique

No spam. Just occasional news, giveaway announcements, and Subscriber Spotlights where you can win a promo. Don’t miss out.

Has Covid Changed How You Handle Finances?

If anything, covid has made me feel incredibly insecure. About my life, my relationships, my friendships, my home, my health, my career, and my finances. Insecure about everything, really.

I have a generalized fear now that any or all of the above can be taken away from me at any time. With no warning or sufficient time to prepare. I used to believe that I had some form of control over all that, but no longer.

I realize that I’m incredibly fortunate that neither me or my husband lost our jobs during covid. We didn’t lose our income and I feel like we shouldn’t squander or waste such a blessing.

So I’ve been saving as much as I can and it’s been accumulating quite fast since we aren’t travelling, socializing, eating out, or spending as much as we used to prior to covid.

And it’s accumulated to the point where we need to make a big decision soon. We have no debt except for our mortgage. And we’ve had our mortgage long enough (forever!) that we only have 8 years left on it.

Prior to covid, I would have easily decided to take such savings and invest it in order to create a new income stream.

However, my new covid fear is making me want to pay off the mortgage instead. Because I’m so worried that one or both of us might lose our job, and then not being able to afford the mortgage anymore would jeopardize having a safe and comfortable home.

But on the other hand, since I’m so worried about one or both of us losing our job, then having an extra income stream might alleviate some of that fear. And I only have to power-through my fear for 8 more years anyway, as the mortgage would be paid off by then.

And at the same time, this insecurity is also pressing me to not touch those savings at all. Because if we do lose our jobs, then we’ll need those savings to pay all our bills and survive until we find another job, which could be months or years!

*sigh*

So I don’t know what to do.

Do you all worry about this stuff too or am I being a weirdo? I’m just scared overall. And I’ll continue to be scared no matter what I do.

1 Year Blog Anniversary!

Yesterday was my 1 year blog anniversary! Holy smokes, the time has just flown by! Seriously. Yesterday was also my birthday, but that’s besides the point as I’m much more excited about my blog instead.

I’m quite impressed by how far this blog has come in a single year. I started off as a complete newbie. And learned mostly everything via trial-and-error. I’m kinda proud that I’ve pulled it off and that I’m still hanging in there.

I’m mostly happy that I’ve found several folks now that I would consider my friends. I was so lonely when I started this blog. I had been working from home, and had no reason to ever leave my house again except for errands. And I was sad that I had lost touch with all my real-life friends. And now I feel like I have friends again. I’m so thankful for each and every one of you for that.

My first blog post was July 6 2020 and the link to it is here. Lol, and absolutely nobody saw it or read it or commented on it. We all know how that goes, right?

When I started this blog, I had no idea if it would last this long, or how it would evolve. But, it’s still growing and evolving and I’m excited to see where it’ll go next! See you all next year! Same time, same place! 🙂

Join my clique

No spam. Just occasional news, giveaway announcements, and Subscriber Spotlights where you can win a promo. Don’t miss out.

I’m Excited to Launch My 1st Subscriber Spotlight

Subscriber Spotlight

So, I’ve never sent out a newsletter before but I just saved my very first draft of my very first one! And I just sent a test one to my email address and I GOT IT!!!! Holy smokes I can’t believe it worked!

Lol, I feel so accomplished that I managed those 2 little things. But we all have to start somewhere right? 🙂

I’ve been thinking that a quarterly newsletter might be the right schedule for me – since I don’t want to bombard everyone with email. And I’ve also been trying to come up with something that would make my newsletter valuable to my subscribers, otherwise, nobody will care and I definitely WANT people to care.

So perhaps my new Subscriber Spotlight would be valuable enough?

This is where I’ll randomly draw ONE of my subscribers immediately prior to sending out this quarterly newsletter. The winner will be announced IN the newsletter. Then this subscriber will have the next 3 months to redeem my promotion of their blog, social media, giveaway, product, etc. They’ll get a dedicated blog post titled the “Subscriber Spotlight” for that quarter, and a shout-out on my social media.

This promotion is subject to my discretion however, just in case it doesn’t align with what I’d like to present to my audience. For example, I would decline promoting something illegal or something that may cause controversy among my audience. I hope that’s agreeable to us all.

Anyhow, I hope all that made sense. I tried to keep it simple.

And I’ll share with you all how I do my drawings. I don’t use a widget or an app. I simply use Excel. If you’re interested in how to use Excel for drawings, I’ve shared the formula in this post here.

I’ll be sending out my newsletter for Quarter 2 of 2021 immediately after this holiday weekend.

Be sure to go ahead and subscribe now so you’re in the drawing for my very first Subscriber Spotlight, where you can promote something important to you! Good luck everyone!

Join my clique

No spam. Just occasional news, giveaway announcements, and Subscriber Spotlights where you can win a promo. Don’t miss out.