This is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse. This post was contributed by Eleanor, a Hotline advocate
As technology continues to make our lives more accessible and seamless, it’s always important to be aware of how it can also be used for potential abuse. In our previous Behind the Screens posts, we’ve discussed ways that computers, mobile devices and spyware can be used to manipulate, control and/or stalk a victim. Now, there are apps – such as the KeyMe App – that could allow an abusive partner to enter your home without your consent.
According to the Stalking Resource Center, “stalkers often use technology to assist them in stalking their victims.” At The Hotline, we know that abusive partners use a variety of tactics, including the use of technology, to intimidate or control their partners. Though the intended purpose of key copier apps is to ease the frustration of losing one’s keys or getting locked out of one’s home, it’s important to be aware of their existence and how they could be used by an abusive partner. For example, with the KeyMe app, anyone with an account can photograph your keys using the app and store photographic copies of them in their digital cloud to print keys as desired, thus allowing access to your personal spaces.
How can you tell if copies of your keys have been made?
If you suspect that someone has entered your home, vehicle or personal spaces, it is possible that you are correct. A spokesperson for the KeyMe app says that the amount of data they collect from account users can help identify anyone using their platform maliciously. However, if you suspect that your keys have been copied, it may be best to contact local law enforcement first.
You might also consider the following tips for increasing your security:
- Keep your keys in a secure place at all times
- Change locks and keys to your personal spaces, including your home, vehicle, office, etc.
- Have personal and confidential mail routed to a USPS P.O. Box
- Install a deadbolt, keypad lock, home security alarm and/or cameras in your home
- Take photos of your personal spaces before you leave your home to compare upon your return
- If you feel safe doing so, share photos of your abusive partner and/or stalker with your neighbors. Ask them to report to authorities if they notice any suspicious activity around your property and/or home when you are away
- Turn off location services/GPS on your cell phones, tablets and all social media pages. Do not check in on social media apps with your whereabouts or let people know on social media platforms that you will be leaving town on vacation, etc.
If you believe you are being monitored, or even if you’re not sure, try to find a safe phone or computer and call us at 1-800-799-7233 or chat online every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time (chat en español de 12 p.m. a 6 p.m. Hora Central). We can help you make a safety plan and direct you to local resources.