Location data that can be hidden in digital photographs can be dangerous in the wrong hands, a North Texas women's shelter is warning.
Cellphones and digital cameras with GPS technology can load the pictures with "geotags" -- GPS data that tells where the photo was taken.
Stalkers can then use the data to track where someone has been.
Even sending photos to someone who is trustworthy can backfire on someone.
"I could send that photo to my mom, and I've got that notification setting on my phone, and my mom can find where I am at -- or my Mom could forward that to someone else, so you never really know whose hands that photo could get into," said Mary Beth Kopsovich, site director of SafeHaven Arlington.
Every cellphone and camera is different, but most have a "settings" function that allow you to disable the GPS function. Some cellphones, including iPhones, allow you to turn off geotagging in photos while not disabling other GPS functions.
Kopsovich said the use of GPS data by abusers to track women is prevalent.
"Technology is ever-changing, and so abusive partners are finding ways to exert power and control over their victims by using technology," she said.
When women show up at SafeHaven, their cell phones are the first thing they're asked for.
"We ask them if they have GPS enabled on their phone so we can help them disable that," Kopsovich said.
A woman who was relentlessly stalked for many years said her stalker used her cellphone to find her.
"In case something does happen, you have [the phone] right there with you, but it can turn around and bite you as well, especially if you have someone who knows exactly what to do and how to do it," said Lillie, whose last name is being withheld because she fears for the safety of her children.
Her cellphone is now stripped of all functions except making calls.