Think about your cell phone and all the personal data that it contains—from contacts to email, banking information, and photos, our entire lives are stored on these small devices. But despite that, when it comes to handing over our phones to someone to exchange cell phone numbers, we often don’t think twice about it.
This is what one woman on Reddit thought until she discovered after doing this, a stranger had been tracking her location the entire time.
User nomiliciousrex recently shared to Reddit her frightening experience with a stranger who wanted to exchange phone numbers and her subsequent invasion of privacy.
She began her story by explaining that she was job hunting and wandered into a restaurant where she began talking to an “overly chatty waiter.” After speaking to the manager about open positions at the restaurant, the waiter offered to exchange phone numbers in case she had any additional questions.
Be A “Nice Girl”
Growing up, women are taught to be nice, polite, and above all else, be a “good girl.” With this in mind, the woman agreed to exchange phone numbers with the waiter in order “to be nice.” Instead of typing the number herself, much to her dismay, he took her phone and called himself. But, she let it go.
“He texted me that it was nice to meet you and I replied thanks but ignored his subsequent attempts to start [a] conversation,” she says. “I decided to apply elsewhere because I thought he was too much…not necessarily creepy tho.”
An Invasion Of Privacy
Things soon took a turn for the worst a week after the encounter at the restaurant. The woman explained that she lived in the suburbs and was moving in the fall, so she traveled back to the city for the first time in several days. Coincidentally, this was when she received a text from the waiter asking to get drinks that night.
“My heart literally sank as I realized that this was more than perfect timing. I immediately checked his contact info to find that MY LOCATION WAS SHARED THIS ENTIRE WEEK!!!!!!!”
“I Am Disgusted”
Realizing that the waiter had been tracking her location for a week, she turned off the location setting on her phone and blocked his number. Still, she was unsettled by the realization that not only did he know where she lived, but that he checked her location enough to know when she was briefly in the city again.
“I am disgusted,” she said. “I will never feel that I owe men kindness again!”
Report The Incident Or Let It Go?
The woman debated about what to do and whether she should report it to the restaurant manager. She figured that it constituted stalking and wouldn’t want it to happen to another woman, but on the other hand, feared retaliation from the waiter, especially given the fact that he knew where she lived.
After consulting Reddit, she made her decision.
Filing A Report
The woman explained that she emailed the restaurant manager and told him that the waiter was stalking her and that he obtained her location without consent. She soon received a response from the manager.
“He is mutually disgusted and has promised to deal with this situation rather than sweeping it under the rug,” she said.
Whether a sexual assault, harassment, or stalking, women often debate whether or not to report these incidences to the proper authorities, such as law enforcement, due to the fear of not being believed.
It’s common for victims to feel shame or wonder if they did something to provoke the incident. The woman even explains that after reporting the incident to the manager, she was “somewhat worried I’ve made a mistake if you can believe it.” Regardless, she said that “it feels surreal that he believes me and that this is happening.”
Here’s What Reddit Thought
This woman’s story went viral on Reddit, and users were horrified by the invasion of privacy that she had to endure. Many users also urged her to report the incident to the police in order to prevent the waiter from stalking another woman.
“ALWAYS report them! Don’t let them think this behavior is acceptable. Help protect his next victim,” one user commented.
It’s Happened Before
Users sympathized with the woman’s story, and several said that similar incidences involving stalking or privacy invasions happened to them too, proving that it happens more often than people realize.
Stalking is a crime that can be notoriously difficult to charge and prosecute. But, by sharing her story, this woman emphasized the significance of these crimes, and how crucial it is that they be reported to authorities and that we keep an open dialogue on the subject so others know they’re not alone.
Cell Phone Safety
With the volume of personal information phones contain, they are a treasure trove to criminals. From location data to financial information, personal photos and contacts, if someone asks to use your phone or to add themselves as a contact, caution should always be exercised. For many users, handing their phone to a total stranger is out of the question.
“‘I’m sorry, I don’t hand my phone to anyone.’ Practice this phrase if you need to. These tools are dangerous enough just to have and use without allowing other people access to them, even for a minute.”