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How to Respond to Blackmail

There are several ways to deal with a blackmailer's demands. Here's how to decide which is best for you.


  • Step 1: Know what constitutes blackmail Know what blackmail is: when someone threatens to expose something embarrassing or incriminating unless you give them money or something else of value. Extortion is a more general term that means forcing someone to do something or pay money so they won't get hurt or killed.
  • Step 2: Take away their leverage Consider taking away their leverage -- the information that is going to embarrass you -- by revealing it yourself.
  • TIP: Disclosing the damning information yourself allows you to put your own spin on the story.
  • Step 3: Contact the authorities If you want the blackmailer prosecuted for threatening you, contact the police before you do anything else. They will work with you to catch the blackmailer in the act.
  • Step 4: Hire a lawyer If your privacy is worth more to you than your money, hire a lawyer. They can use the legal system to transform the transaction into a "settlement" rather than a payoff.
  • Step 5: Give in If you don't want to involve lawyers or the police, consider negotiating with the blackmailer privately. But bear in mind that this won't prevent the person from demanding future payments for continued silence.
  • FACT: Bill Cosby, Cameron Diaz, and Oprah Winfrey have all been the targets of blackmailers.

You Will Need

  • Honesty
  • Spin
  • The police
  • Lawyer
  • Payoff

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