We recently received a question in our forum regarding an ex-husband who was harrassing his ex-wife online, threatening to hack into her social media, email and bank accounts, and was suddenly showing up at her residence, un-invited. What can she do?
First Things First - Obtain A Restraining Order
Although it may seem like a daunting task, you can actually obtain a restraining order relatively easy. We have a page here on our website which can walk you through the steps you need to take to get that order, which you can view here.
If you live in Azusa, you can obtain the order at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Pomona at 400 Civic Center Plaza.
Once you have obtained a restraining order, make plenty of copies to keep with you, and to deliver to the law enforcement agencies where you both live and work. In the event your ex violates any provision of the order, you need to immediately call the law enforcement agency where the violation occurred, to complete a report. Depending on the type of order you have obtained, this could be a violation of California Penal Code Section 166.4 or Section 273.6.
If the person begins stalking you, meaning they continually follow or harrass you, they may be in violtion of the stalking law, which is under California Penal Code Section 646.9. In the event there is a restraining order in effect during a violation of this crime, the punishment may be more severe for the violator.
Second - Your Online Security
If your ex-husband or wife, or anyone who was close to you for an extended period of time, has threatened to hack into your online accounts, it's very important you take some preventative measures to keep your accounts and information safe.
First off, make sure you use a "clean" computer. What you don't want to do is try to create new passwords, usernames or email addresses on a computer your ex has had access to in the past, or has recently sent you any files, pictures, or attachments. When dealing with seriously vindictive people, there is no telling to what extreme they will go to ruin your life. If you have to, back-up your files and re-format your computer. If you can't do that, use a different one your ex doesn't know exists.
Next, you should create an email account using one of the various free email providers, like Yahoo! or Google. Make sure you do not use any type of authentication verification which you frequently use. For example, if they want you to list a security question like "Where was your high school?", either don't select that question or make up an answer. Make sure you write your answers down somewhere safe.
Once your new email account is established, you can now go through your various social media accounts and begin changing the registered email addresses, usernames and passwords. Remember, do not use anything your ex will be able to figure out from "just knowing you."
What About Setting Up A Fake Social Media Account?
Thankfully, the legislatures realized the severity of someone setting up a fake account in an innocent person's name, in order to harm that person. California Penal Code Section 528.5 makes this act a crime.
Do not "give in" or be persuaded by the occassional nice attitude by the person causing you problems. You need to be firm and strong, and committed to putting an end to this conduct. You will never be able to move on if you don't take some form of action and responsibility.
Should you need further assistance, please come to the Azusa Police Department at 725 N. Alameda Avenue to speak with a police officer.