In a divorce, it is important to protect yourself — not only physically, legally, and financially, but also when it comes to your online privacy and identity. In this article, we offer our advice for protecting your online privacy during your divorce.
The Importance of Protecting Your Online Privacy
There are many reasons you should protect your online privacy during your divorce. First, protecting your privacy may prevent serious, unwanted intrusions from your spouse. This is true whether those intrusions are in the form of misusing your accounts, posting damaging information on your behalf, or learning information that you would like to keep confidential. Do not allow your spouse access to your health information, financial transactions, location and whereabouts, or details about your private life.
Second, your spouse may use your online presence against you during your divorce proceeding if he or she collects potentially damaging information about you. Whether in the form of text messages, emails, account transactions, or social media posts, allowing your spouse access to your online presence could give him/her ammunition in your divorce matter. Avoid any issues with online evidence against you later by protecting your privacy now.
Third, identity theft by your spouse may present a concern. Let’s face it: no one gets married thinking that her/his spouse will one day steal her/his identity. However, identity theft by an ex-spouse does happen. This may present an issue, particularly during an acrimonious and highly contested divorce, as people may act irrationally. So, it is important to be vigilant, look out for yourself, and protect your identity.
Consider the following steps to protect your online privacy during your divorce.
Steps to Protect Your Online Privacy
Set up new accounts whenever possible.
You should set up a new email address, to which your spouse will not have access. You might also decide to set up a new phone number or phone account if you are currently sharing an account with your spouse. Having a new phone and data plan might provide you with added security. This could ensure that your spouse does not have access to your call history and text messages. Protect your devices with access PINs. Take inventory of all of the apps you are logged into on all of your devices, and double-check that your spouse does not have access.
Change your passwords to all existing accounts and set up two-factor authentication.
Reset all of your passwords for all accounts, including email, social media, online banking and financial, and medical accounts. Also, set up two-factor authentication whenever possible. This will prompt you to verify an attempted login to your accounts through a second layer of security. Often, that is done through a text message or email. Be sure you change the security questions and respective answers on all of your accounts as well.
Disable any automatic logins that you may have set up for your accounts.
When you use your accounts, be sure you log out of them after you are finished. Also, pay attention to and consider deleting your browser history. In some cases, your account logins may be cached and an unauthorized user may capitalize on your browser history to access them.
Change the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
Increase the strength level of your preferences. Along this vein, go through your network and contacts to ensure you do not inadvertently leak information to your spouse through anyone on your list. Remove and block contacts who might give your spouse access or visibility to your accounts. Do not post anything on your social media accounts that might reflect unfavorably in your divorce case. Remember, social media evidence may be admissible in court.
Pay special consideration to any accounts and providers that deal with your finances, health, or other sensitive information.
The risk of manipulation of sensitive information in these types of accounts is high and may have some serious consequences. If possible, separate your financial and health accounts from your spouse’s; at least, create your own username, password, and login information.
Consider any shared accounts you may have with your spouse.
Whether it be streaming services, shared calendars, cloud-based services, or other accounts, consider turning off account sharing if feasible. Set up your own accounts or your own usernames and passwords. This may prevent your spouse from hijacking your account or making unauthorized changes.
Also, back up and clean up your storage. Pay special attention to any storage space that you might share with your spouse and, if feasible, create your own private storage space.
You should consider any location services you may have in place as well. Are there any services or features on your devices that may be sharing your location with your spouse? If so, turn off those features.
Lastly, consult with a technology specialist if possible. They may be able to check your devices for spyware, explain additional information, answer your questions, and ensure you have not missed any steps towards protecting your online privacy.
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