Monday, October 12, 2009

Hotels & Privacy - Can I get a room next to you?

Unfortunately all I need to know is which hotel you're staying at, claim I'm a friend and get a room near you, or even right next door.  The big news story was Erin Andrews of ESPN was filmed undressing in her hotel room. How easy is this to do? So easy it's sickening.

What can you do to protect yourself? First, don't check in under your own name.  Hold the room on a credit card, then go in and pay everything cash under a different name.  Don't leave ANY identifying items in your room, as low paid hotel workers are huge snoops.  They're the paparazzi's dream.  When you get to your room, check the walls, pictures, doors, especially if there's an adjoining door between rooms.  That peep-hole is NOT your friend. Carry black electrical tape and cover it! You can easily remove for viewing.  Good tip, do this at home as well with any peep holes. Carry travel alarms and portable security items with you at all times. If possible, keep the do not disturb sign on the door so that no workers access the room if you're concerned about privacy.  Celebrities have a lot more to worry about than most of us, but there are weirdos everywhere.  A client of mine was stalked by their own family member who was trying to get blackmail photos to post online in hopes of extorting money.  A total stranger will have no problem asking if a certain person has checked in, and if you act like you know the person and do a good acting job, you'll get plenty more personal info.   Hotel workers aren't really bright and honestly don't care about your safety.  They should ring your room and tell you someone's asked about you, but they never do.   The hotel assumes that if you have the person's first and last name, that you must know them.

Rock stars had the right idea when they checked in under crazy names to avoid being found.  REO Speedwagon singer Kevin Cronin often used Mr. Graham Crackers.  Hotels should allow you to use any name you wish, and if you have concerns about nosy people, tell the hotel that under no circumstances is your info to be given out.  I've traveled and paid hotels cash, never showing any form of ID.  If someone asks you for ID, be prepared and have another photo ID that you've "created" or had created such as a company badge with a photo, but a different name. Be sure someone in your close circle of friends or family has all your contact info, but don't give it out to anyone else.  Don't allow anyone to ring your room either.  Use your cell phone.  Faxes, use an online fax service especially if what you're transmitting isn't for prying eyes.

Many problems for celebs and the rest of us arise because we're too comfortable and put convenience and speed over common sense.  I always stress to people that they should become aware of who's obsessed with them by installing trackers on their social networking pages.  If you want to know how to do it, email us or we'll post links and how-to on our site.  Several of our clients who were not celebrities were shocked and sickened to see who was stalking them online, how many times pages were re-loaded and accessed.  One woman's page was re-loaded over 60 times in an hour.  The predator was reloading her page once per minute desperate to see what she posted.  Her friends also installed trackers and they found that the predator was stalking all her friends on Facebook as well.  He was later arrested for what else? Checking into a hotel she was staying at! How did he know her whereabouts? She shared too much with friends, mentioned her hotel and bingo, the stalker simply went to the desk posing as a friend.  He even had her flight info since she had posted a link to it for a co-worker online. The predator was an acquaintance of a family member who had become obsessed.

Murders and kidnappings happen, rapes, robberies  you name it.  You are NOT ever safe in a hotel, famous or not.  This goes for men too.  Don't talk about your plans on social networking sites, don't use real names. Be sure to have trackers on social pages so you know who's a little too interested in you & when possible pay cash for your hotel rooms. If you feel your privacy has been compromised, alert hotel managers immediately & demand a change of rooms. 

Click here to read the link about Erin Andrews and the stalker who not only peeped and took photos/video of her in her hotel room, but also had done this to other women. Erin Andrews Story

Miley Cyrus leaves Twitter - good idea for Privacy?

We love Miley Cyrus on Twitter, however even a young person like Miley is savvy enough to see that maybe Twitter and social networking sites aren't all that secure.  Sure you can be hacked, and none of your info is ever safe.  What if you want to use Twitter but want to retain your privacy?

First of all, unless you're a celeb and want to use your real name, opt for a fake one.  You can also just put your first name and maybe change the location.  Don't put your real age or birthdate! Never. Spies can easily use this to cross reference you on all the social networks. you really need your photo on there? I love seeing the real person behind the Twitter but you can take a far away photo, make it blurry and be sure you're not in the pic with another person.  Now regarding TwitPic and photos you post for advice? Don't post personal stuff.  Get your own private website, password protect it and share photos there if at all.  Yes it's fun to have photos up for people to access, however what control do you have when photos end up in the wrong hands? A harmless "sexy picture" of you can be misconstrued, posted on adult sex sites etc. For celebs, sometimes any press is good press, but for the younger girls, watch what you post as it will come back to haunt you.  Celebrities have to deal with people re-posting their photos on dirt blogs, and yes, the studios DO see photos of you, and if you're constantly seen partying, it can reflect negatively and hurt your career.  Also, what about your friends in the photo? Do they know you're posting pics of them? Do you have their permission? This is especially important when you have friends that are not of legal age.  Parents of even celebs might get a bit miffed if another celeb carelessly posts unflattering photos of their children.  As for sharing pictures, can't you just send photos to your buddies in private?  If you must post something and want to maintain privacy, again, blur out location details, license plates, landmarks etc.

What do you Twitter about? Fun stuff, business, news? Watch what you say & don't give too much info.  Keep us all guessing, it makes you mysterious! Don't name names of friends, or give them a fake name instead, "my friend Beth" is really my friend "Brenda" and so forth.

As for celebrities, we love to hear your tweets about upcoming shows, appearances, records, and your likes and dislikes.  No need to shun all the social networking opportunities, as you can get great exposure and many new fans in the process.  I'm not Miley Cyrus' age, but she's a great kid, I do enjoy her music and I think she's a major talent.  I got a kick out of reading a few of her tweets, and it was nice to see a young person with her level of fame, still being able to enjoy fun the other girls are having.

Her decision to delete her Twitter account is sad for fans, but the abuse level of Paparazzi and gossip sites is making it impossible for celebs to enjoy themselves and hang with the rest of us.  Paparazzi and gossip sites are alienating our favorite stars more and more.  Publishing someone's tweet through a screen capture of their page or a RT from someone else is cheesy and classless.  Sure some are funny to read, but now it seems that our own so-called "news" programs are getting carried away and copying what celeb dirt blogs are posting.  This is horrible journalism and it's disappointing that our world news has become inundated with celebrity foibles and flat-out lies.

So maybe we should all think a bit like Miley in this case. Whether you know it or not, even if you're not famous, I can tell you that you have followers, stalkers, neighbors, co-workers just looking for the next juicy tidbit you throw out there.  Unlike Miley, most of us don't have deep pockets to file defamation lawsuits if something gets out of hand.  Play it safe grown ups and kids, go ahead and Twitter away, but keep it lite and don't reveal too much.  Keep photos vague, and do NOT use the direct message feature for anything that you don't want slipping out.  One person had all their direct messages posted public by a Twitter glitch.  Real nice eh?  Have a separate email address where you can talk in private to your online buddies, put this on your Twitter account and when you sign up for the email address on Yahoo, AOL or wherever, do NOT use your real name, age or geographical location.  This way if Twitter is hacked, it's no big deal.  Also, don't use the same password for your Twitter account as the email you signed up with. Best to be as elusive as possible.

Celebs out there, we love you and want to get to know you! Ignore the haters, block the meanies, lock your Tweets if need be and think about how much info you want to divulge.  A few celebs I know have opted to put a fake photo and name up just to hang with us as normal people.  Do you know who they are? You'd be very surprised at just who might be a famous person in your circle of followers!  Lastly, celebs are people too. If you don't like the person, their music, movies etc., don't harass and insult the star directly. It's RUDE and shows you were raised by evil trolls.   Keep your opinions to yourself and like Mama told you: "If you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all".  Miley, if you do decide to come back to Twitter, just know that the friendly people greatly out number the jerks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

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