Have you heard of digital blackmail? If not, you’re not alone. A lot of people don’t know about this type of cybercrime until it happens to them. Unfortunately, that’s often too late. Digital blackmail is a type of online extortion where someone threatens to release embarrassing or damaging information about you unless you give them money or some other form of payment. This can devastate a person’s life and cause long-term damage.
The Devastation Left Behind from Digital Blackmail
When your life is impacted by digital blackmail, it can leave you feeling scared, alone and helpless. You may feel like you have no one to turn to and that your life is over. This type of cybercrime can affect your emotional, financial and physical wellbeing.
Emotionally, you may feel shame, stress, humiliation and anxiety. You might start to withdraw from friends and activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to sleep problems, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you or someone you know is experiencing suicide thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Financially, you may be left with debt from paying the blackmailer. It is also possible that you might lose your job or have a hard time finding employment because of the embarrassing information that was released. This can have a harsh impact on your finances, including your credit score.
Physical effects can include weight loss or gain, headaches and gastrointestinal problems. It may also cause a weakened immune system and health problems from stress.
Recovering from Digital Blackmail
Sometimes blackmailers are bluffing or they will move on if you block them or refuse to pay. Others do intend to do some type of harm. It can be hard to tell if someone is faking it or not, but no matter what it is important to take action. Follow these immediate action steps:
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 immediately. DON’T WAIT!
Step 1: It’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are people who care about you and want to help. Reach out to your family and friends for support. They can be a great source of strength during this difficult time.
Step 2: Keep all documentation related to the scam and file a report with your local law enforcement agency. Cybercrime is a serious offense and many agencies have departments dedicated to cybercrime. They will also be able to refer you to other agencies who can provide assistance.
Step 3: Stop all contact with and block the blackmailer immediately. Paying is unlikely to stop them from harassing you.
Step 4: If you believe they gained access to your personal, financial or login information, take action to mitigate the damage. Call your bank or financial institution, change your passwords and monitor your credit for any fraudulent activity.
Step 5: Consider talking to a therapist or counselor. They can help you deal with the emotional fallout from something like this.
Step 6: Keep an eye out for things posted about you online. Run an internet search for your name. If you find anything, report it to the website or social media platform where it was posted.
There is help available if you or someone you know has been a victim of digital blackmail. You are not alone. By leaning on others for support and following these steps you will be able to begin recovery and rebuild your life.