Claire E. Miller, a 44-year-old publishing executive in Manhattan, recently stripped her nameplate from the tenant directory at the entrance to her Kips Bay apartment building, where she has lived for more than 11 years. She has also asked the landlord to disconnect the buzzer and is in the process of changing her phone number.
Drastic measures, all, for an otherwise cheerful and outgoing person. But Ms. Miller has been unnerved by a sudden and, since last September, steady onslaught of unsolicited and lusty phone calls, e-mail messages and even late-night visits from strange men — typically seeking delivery on dark promises made to them online by someone, somewhere, using her name.
[…] It is the online equivalent of scrawling “for a good time, call Jane Doe” on a bathroom wall, but the reach of the Internet has made such pranks — if they are only that — far more sinister. And the problem is only likely to grow, fueled by the availability of personal data online and the huge growth in social networking and dating sites, which are attracting investment from big companies.