Chioma Owolabi

How to Deal With Online Blackmail

Online blackmail

Have you ever received a call threatening to release vital information about you to the public or online? There’s nothing more frightening than being in such a situation, especially when you don’t know how to deal with online blackmail. It gets more frustrating when they give you a deadline to pay a certain fee or get something done.

If you are met with such a scenario you can either block their numbers, report to the police, or refuse to meet their demands, without incurring any damage to your public personality or value. Then you have successfully overpowered these online predators.

In this article, we’ll discuss the ways online blackmailers use to get their prey and how to tackle them step by step. Follow the step-by-step guide to learn how to deal with online blackmail,  how to protect yourself against online blackmail, and avert online extortion in the future.

What Is Online Blackmail?

Online blackmail is the extortion of money by threats of public accusation, exposure, or censure online. It also entails threatening to release details of one’s private life or secrets online in exchange for a fee or ransom.

This information can either be obtained by hacking into their victim’s personal files or hidden folders on their PC or smartphone. It could be someone’s nude pictures or images showing someone in a questionable place that can damage one’s reputation.

Online blackmail is a crime and in many countries, is punishable by law. However, many still engage in it, sometimes we see hackers being hired to break through the firewalls of their victims’ PCs or personal accounts.

There are different forms of online blackmail, like; personal injuries, property damage, criminal allegations, sextortion, or defamation. But all these are also avoidable when you know how to deal with online blackmail.

9 Steps To Handle Online Blackmail

Online blackmail, unlike other forms of blackmail, is more dangerous and delicate. Because of the vastness of the internet space, online blackmail should be given much attention and an immediate response. Let’s delve into the 7 ways to deal with online blackmail.

1. Avoid Engaging Blackmailers Online

Communication is key in their pursuit to get a victim into their net, so their first step is to initiate a conversation with you. They will contact you online and will try to get your attention. Avoid any form of further communication after you have seen their first message, they will want to build a table for negotiation and bring you to bargain with them.

You need to know that opening negotiations with these persons will make them see you as easy prey and may furthermore lead to increased demand in their bargain with you. Avoid any form of bargaining or responding to demands.

If possible, close up your device and don’t use it again until the right authorities get involved or you have contacted the right person. Block all communication from that very source and any other suspected source to either your mailbox or phone contacts.

2. Document Everything

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If you have been blackmailed online previously, it is important to keep a good record of every single piece of information you received from the blackmailer. Don’t overlook any of these processes because they will be vital when the right authorities start their investigations. Get the information, and save it on a device or USB flash drive.

The information you have will serve as evidence against the blackmailer. You can keep screenshots of every chat and all the details you can derive about the blackmailer. Try to get the username, contact link, phone number, voice recording of the blackmailer, or any emails to aid investigations.

3. Report To The Relevant Agencies

Because this is a crime and there are laws set in place against any form of breach of personal details, taking the matter to the right agencies is the perfect thing to do. Don’t plan to self-handle the matter or try to engage the blackmailer in a discussion with you.

It will be more advantageous to have any form of detail or information about the blackmailer so that when you report it to the right agencies, it can come in handy and possibly start their investigations or arrest.

In Nigeria, the ICPC is one strong entity that can get involved in this criminal act. In countries like the USA, reporting to the FBI is the first step.

After reporting to a national body like the ICPC, also take the matter to the local police in your locality with shreds of evidence or information about the infiltrator. They will file a case and a subsequent lawsuit when the criminal is caught.

However, try to provide them with all the necessary evidence. You are likely to receive information about your rights as well as recommendations on what to do next.

4. Be Careful And Safeguard Your Details Online

Where reality dawns is when you are not careful about how much of your information is online. When vital information about yourself that seems delicate is free for everyone to access, you become the target of these blackmailers because you are more vulnerable to them.

The best way to manage this situation is through prevention, this is how to deal with online blackmail especially if you tend to save a lot of delicate details on your social media spaces. Avoid saving vital details about yourself online for the public to see. However, if you already have some of your details online, it is proper that you immediately remove them.

5. Make Use Of Passwords And Lock Patterns

Cases of hacking and online theft have become more frequent nowadays, hence, using strong passwords and lock patterns is very important. Build a strong online security network with very strong password protection for your online accounts and space. This is the first line of defense to help you keep your vital and sensible information and details protected from spies and infiltrators.

If possible, hire an ethical hacker to serve as an online security expert, which is what ethical hackers do. He’ll help checkmate your account and alert you on when to change your passwords for all your social media accounts.

When creating a password, think about using complex and mixed words with numbers and symbols as your security syntax. This should be close to or more than 12 characters long, at the very least.

If remembering these passwords seems tough for you, seek the help of a password manager or you can stick solely to the hacker to keep your details safe. This is a unique way to deal with online blackmail.

6. Get Familiar With Tricks Used By Online Blackmailers

You can be easy prey once you are ignorant of the patterns and styles they use to manipulate their victims. More frequently, these fraudsters, in many incidents of blackmail, use almost the same set of patterns to try their lies. You can fall prey to these silly and easy blackmail scam formats if you don’t get acquainted with them.

You become impenetrable once you learn the common and more frequent patterns they use to do their dirty job. Most times, these online blackmailers are imposed as personnel of a site, as agents of the federal authorities, or as officials involved in any possible site you might have visited. They can make you believe they have all your details and claim you have committed a crime.

They are bluffers and may claim you have committed a crime or owe money somewhere and try to convince you of the penalty of the crime. They may demand a fee so your charges will be dropped, or demand a reduced payment of the owed money. Take note.

In some other scenarios, the blackmailer may claim to have planted a tracker device into your PC or computer and has kept track of your movements, and they will ask for payment or else expose your pictures with a harlot or in some detrimental places. Some claim to have traces of you visiting dark or adult sites and perhaps have a recording of you.  Therefore, knowing these few formats helps you either trace your words or call them immediately.

7. Block Out All Data-Broker Sites

Most times, your data (details) is likely on someone’s servers (database) and that’s without your notice or permission, which is most likely going to be sold for money to data buyers.

Surprisingly, a lot of people are unaware of the fact that their details can be easily gotten from the internet for free without their knowledge. While some are not bothered by this, you should be careful about what details you leave online.

If you’re wondering how these hackers stole your data online, I’ll tell you. They are a group of brilliant people who gather details and cluster them little by little from the public information available. They sometimes buy some from other sources, like your credit card, social media sites, or even some mobile apps on your PC or Gadgets.

There are ways to remove or limit this access to your online details. First, you will have to get familiar with online privacy policies, laws, and regulations. Get to know which of the data protection laws is related to you, then send a request to the data controllers to check if your details are with them. Once confirmed, ask them to cease selling or buying your details. However, you can submit a complaint to the data protection authorities.

8. Stick To Who You Know

Stop contacting or clicking on any untrusted sources or online connectors you don’t know. Once you are not sure of the source, don’t try to give it a chance to link the source to your device. Some friends online are just merged forms of blackmailers, so don’t communicate your details with a friend you just met online.

9. Seek Professional Help

The situation can escalate beyond your control and the best solution to this is to seek help from a cybersecurity professional who has handled such cases previously and is well grounded  in the tactics of those online blackmailers. You can also consult a digital forensics expert to handle such issues. However, such professionals must be professionals and knowledgeable in order to successfully eradicate those online blackmailers.

Final Words

Falling into the hands of an online blackmailer or online extortionist can be a terrifying experience. But luckily, there are actions you can take immediately if you find yourself a victim. After reading through, you will learn how to deal with online blackmail.

Online Blackmail can be awful, but we have already seen the possibility of these menaces being handled properly, so consider all the steps to protect yourself from future attacks.

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