Chatting and Texting with SHARPP
Your safety is incredibly important to SHARPP. Our web chat and text helplines are available to provide confidential one-on-one crisis support Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm. (Beginning June 1, 2022 the SHARPP WebChat will not be staffed for the summer. You can find alternative ways to contact us here.) Through these features, you can speak with a trained staff member who can provide you with emotional support, validation, information and referrals, as well as a safe place to talk about what you have experienced. To ensure your safety, SHARPP has taken many steps to partner with nationally recognized resources. By providing the following information we do not wish to suggest that chatting or texting is not a safe way to engage with SHARPP. Rather, we want to provide you with information to assist you in making an informed decision regarding the best way to connect with us.
Web Chat Helpline
The web chat helpline is a secure instant-messaging format that allows you to speak confidentially with a trained advocate. It can be accessed via the web browser on your computer or mobile device.
What are we doing to make our web chat as secure as possible?
- Your IP address is never captured, meaning that we cannot trace sessions to specific users.
- We do not save transcripts of our chats. While e-mails, text messages and other instant message platforms keep a record of the conversations that can be accessed later, our web chat does not store this data. Because of this, there is no way for anyone to access the content of the conversations between chat users and SHARPP staff.
- We are using a platform that provides end-to-end encryption, meaning that only the user and specific staff member involved in the conversation can see the messages being sent. Other SHARPP staff and others cannot see what is being shared.
- All users are anonymous. When accessing our chat, users are assigned a random, anonymous identification number that is not connected to your IP address. You will not be asked to give any identifying information such as your name or location in order to access our web chat. The advocate you are chatting with may ask for your name to ensure continuity of services, however you are not obligated to share this if you are not comfortable.
Is safety guaranteed when using web chat?
While SHARPP has done everything we can to ensure that web chat users can access support safely and anonymously, we can never entirely eliminate risk. We believe that we've greatly reduced the risk to users and will continue to implement additional security measures as they become available. When accessing support using any technology it can be helpful to remember that our devices typically store data from the pages we visit and that other individuals can install spyware and other programs on our devices that can compromise the safety of these devices. SHARPP recommends that if you are concerned about the security of your device that you access our services through our 24/7 support line by calling (603) 862-7233 instead.
How can I make web chat safer?
When using the web chat to connect with a SHARPP advocate there are several things that you can do to further ensure your safety. You do not have to share any identifying information, such as your name, age or location with the advocate if you don't feel comfortable. We recommend that you don't record or store any chats to protect your own privacy. Once you've ended the chat it is recommended that you clear your computer's cache and browser history then erase cookies stored on your computer or mobile device. By taking these actions you are taking steps to prevent someone else from going on your device and monitoring your internet activity.
Text Helpline (603) 606-9393
Given the growing accessibility of technology, SHARPP recognizes that it may be easiest to reach out to us using your cell phone. We now provide the opportunity for UNH community members to have a conversation with SHARPP staff via text messages.
Is it safe to text with SHARPP?
While SHARPP has assured that messages received via text message are encrypted by the software we are using, text messages cannot be encrypted in the same way that our web chat can, and therefore text messages have additional safety concerns.
Text messages cannot be end-to-end encrypted like our web chat messages, meaning that cell phone providers can, and often do, keep a copy of the messages sent on their servers. Each company stores this data for varying lengths of time and it is important to be aware that this information could be shared with others in events such as under a court order. Additionally, all cell phone providers maintain a log of numbers that their users are texting, meaning that the SHARPP text helpline number can appear on billing statements and other account information. If you are on a shared phone plan or using a shared phone, please be aware that it could be easy to identify that you were texting with a SHARPP advocate.
Much like the web chat feature, cell phones can also be compromised by spyware, leading to more information being tracked and stored. SHARPP encourages users to be sure you are using a device that you do not believe is being monitored or is compromised. If you have concerns, we recommend you contact us through our 24/7 helpline at (603) 862-7233 instead. If you do choose to text with SHARP, you will also be offered the link to our web chat, which you can access using your mobile browsers, to provide you with a more secure way to receive support.
What can I do to make texting safer?
If you wish to text with a SHARPP advocate, we recommend that you if you choose to safe the text helpline number that you do not save it in your contacts in a way that identifies that it is associated with SHARPP, and suggest deleting all conversation history from your device.