While social media followers don’t necessarily mean a bad thing, being followed by someone while you’re out in the streets usually comes with a few complications, sometimes even leading to deadly outcomes.
The threat increases when you are traveling abroad in countries with a high abduction risk.
You may end up being ransomed for a hefty sum of money or even worse.
To tackle any unwanted pursuits, you must learn how to discern if you’re being followed and what to do in that case.
This write-up offers plenty of tips that may save your life.
Don’t follow patterns
If somebody is targeting you, they’ll require time to stay on your tail and learn your behavior.
Usually they’ll analyze you from a distance and see at what hours you’re leaving the hotel or apartment, if you’re constantly taking the elevator or the stairs, if you prefer the back or front entrance, and mostly anything that forms a pattern.
To complicate their game, you must always alternate your moves and do things differently as often as possible.
Pick various routes when traveling on foot, don’t return at the hotel or home at the same hours, use both the stairs and the elevator.
Let your moves be as spontaneous and unpredictable as possible.
How to know that you’re being followed
Sometimes paranoia may play tricks on you, and sometimes you’ll believe you’re mistaken. Truth is your gut instinct is always triggering an alarm when somethings is not right, even if you don’t realize at first.
So how can you confirm your suspicions?
- You’ve seen an individual or vehicle at least twice in the same day.
- Someone has left its meal unfinished and left the place where you have just eaten and departed.
- Someone in a restaurant is not eating and is eavesdropping on you.
- People using public transportation that board and exit at the same stops.
- If you’re jogging and see someone stretching near you for longer than necessary.
- Last but not least, your gut instinct. You may feel something is wrong just by making eyesight with a random person.
If any of these situations occur, it’s likely that you are being followed.
Now comes the tricky part. In order to confirm your suspicions, you must employ additional measures:
- Act like you feel something is wrong, but don’t unveil your distress. Stop and change course suddenly, follow a different route, change your pace. Now observe if your follower is minding its business or is still imitating your behavioral pattern.
- Make use of a mirror or window to spy on your tracker.
- Play as if you’ve lost your keys, do a brisk turn, and see if your follower reacts the same way or it’s continuing unhindered and unsurprised.
- Get in a cab and go for a short spin. See if your presumed follower is doing the same.
- If you’re in your car, do a full traffic circle and see if your follower is doing the same. You can ask a cab driver to do the same thing.
- Signal left, but then go straight. See if your follower does the same.
How to react if suspicions turn true?
You’ll have to report this asap. Don’t wait to return home to call the police. If your suspicions are true, head to the police station and write down your concerns.
Also, don’t attempt to confront your follower because it may lead to violence and who knows what else.
Note that if you are abroad, every US embassy has a Regional Security Office (RSO) who will aid you if your integrity is at stake.
If it comes to that, all details matter. Don’t focus on clothing, but rather on:
- Skin, hair, and eye color
- Body particularities like scars and tattoos
- Body mass
If for some reason you become nervous during stressful situation, you can always rely on your phone.
A good method of spying on your follower is by turning the camera recording on, placing the phone on your ear while you pretend to speak. Move the phone around towards the person and describe its traits while you’re at it.
What if things escalate?
If a kidnapping attempt is imminent, then your best bet is to take matters into your own hands.
Step on the gas if you’re driving a car. Aim for densely populated areas to have more witnesses, more surveillance cameras pointing at the scene, as well as discourage your followers to act due to the high exposure.
Hopefully it won’t come to that, but knowing how to protect yourself and to raise doubts of a possible attacker will benefit your mindset.
Don’t forget that preparedness is key to survival. They work hand in hand. Knowing how to behave in all life threatening situations will give you the upper hand from the very start.
Keep these tips in mind, you never know when you might need them.