Month: July 2014

10 Reasons Why You Must Keep Your Personal Information Private

  1. Identity Thieves. Criminals are omnipresent these days – on your computer, at your mailbox, watching you come and go. All it takes to have your identity stolen is to have your mail stolen out of your mailbox or drop your wallet somewhere. Undoing and overcoming the damage an identity thief can do brings to mind the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Secure your information/data/mail.image facebook
  2. Bill Collectors. They will call you at home, call you at work, email you and even on occasion, show up at your doorstep. But how do they know where to call, email or show up? If you don’t share your contact information, then they’ll have a difficult time finding you.
  3. Angry Ex’s/Former Employees/Stalkers. Everyone likes to think that they are well liked and have no enemies. Unfortunately, we can’t control what others think of us. If a relationship ends badly, a coworker is terminated or unwanted attention is attracted to an individual, loose information that is available must be secured. Again, prevention is powerful and if those that mean you harm can’t find your phone number or address, you’ve hit a privacy “home run” and saved yourself some heartache.
  4. Honest Mistakes (Name Mixups). Do you have a common name? If so, there’s likely someone out there looking for you. For example, the name John Smith is a very common American name. Although I’m sure most of the Mr. Smiths out there are law-abiding citizens, there’s probably at least one John Smith who’s wanted by bill collectors or has an arrest warrant pending. If your name is the same as a wanted criminal, do you think that they’ll ask to confirm your social security number (the one thing that differentiates you from other John Smiths) when you’re arrested? The answer is no. You’ll be taken to jail first, innocent or not. If it happens at somewhere like an airport, you’ll be detained in a backroom somewhere and interrogated by Federal Authorities. If you have the same name as someone on a terror list, then it could get much worse. The USA Patriot Act allows authorities to do just about whatever they want to you (in the name of “Homeland Security”) – and you can kiss justice and due process of law good bye. Every heard of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? It’s not where you want to be vacationing.guantanamo
  5. Nigerian Scam Artists. Everyone knows about the Nigerian scams that come by phone phone and email: some prince in a foreign country has millions of dollars and he needs you to help hold it in your bank account, just send him a money order and they’ll send you the money. Yeah right!
  6. Ruthless Advertisers. Every time they ask for your phone number and address when you get your oil changed or you buy a pack of gum at the corner drug store you don’t have to give it to them. Your information is stored in multiple databases and sold to advertisers and also used for tracking purposes. Just say no, or make up an address and phone number.
  7. Government Profiles. I recently blogged about the report from PBS Frontline documenting how the NSA has been spying on Americans for years and compiling a database (and potentially a dossier) on you. Do your best to not share information with government agencies. Use a PO Box when possible and don’t give out your real phone number. In my opinion, government agencies are the scariest and most powerful adversary to privacy. And with the resources of the government, if they want to find you, they will. But you can still maintain some level of privacy by not sharing information and being careful about what you share online.
  8. Media Reports. We’ve all had incidents in our lives where either a family member, friend or ourselves have been named in a media report, article or video. It makes you feel like the whole world is watching you for that moment. And the more information that the media report includes about you, the more alienated and isolated you feel. Don’t let your personal information get out into the public arena to be tossed about by reporters and slanderers.
  9. Enemies At Large. Occasionally those who are in business, politics (imagine a high profile job) or public servants (like judges or police) find themselves being targeted. Not many people appreciate privacy more than those who serve the public in a law enforcement role. They make lots of enemies just doing their job. And they must secure their information for the safety and security of their family and themselves.
  10. Rogue Law Enforcement. Despite being blessed with thousands of dedicated, law-abiding police in the United States, there is always the possibility of finding yourself on the wrong side of the law. Law enforcement officers wield great power and have enormous resources and pools of fellow LEOs to draw from. When possible, you want to avoid making an enemy of a LEO.

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Robot, Driverless Cars: Safe or Just Another Loss of Freedom?

Recently, a driverless car was in Washington DC showing off. Creators from Carnegie Mellon University brought the car into town to allow members of the house of representatives to get a ride in this new invention. Unfortunately for the creators of this machine, the car broke down and rides had to be postponed, but several things should be noted here.

First of all, for those who have doubted the existence of driverless cars, you can now check all media outlets. They are real and today’s malfunction right in front of the
US congress is a perfect example of why I don’t want any part of them. However, at this time I will go out on a limb and predict a day will come when these Washington bureaucrats will be voting to only allow driverless cars on the road in the name of safety.

If you look at it from the high horse of a “law maker” it is overall a better idea to allow computers to control traffic. Of course there will be errors that may cause traffic jams, accidents and even deaths but the computer issues will still be safer than the public driving without controls on them. I want to say right now that I have no intention of riding in one of these vehicles – ever. If I wreck its my fault but at least I will be in control.

Which brings to mind the next problem with these things. There will be a master controller in charge of these things and that master controller can cut you off at any time. Perhaps you are late on your car payment, or you are going to vote on election day but the controller is sympathetic to the opponent of your guy so he just shuts you and a few thousand people down for routing maintenance. Don’t say they wouldn’t do that in a world where voter machines are rigged and Tea Party voters get audited. Forget it all!! I’m just not into these driverless cars. They are scary but be prepared. I’m predicting they will be very popular and at some point those of us trying to maintain our sanity by driving ourselves will be thought of as insane!!

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Did You Drop Your Wallet in The Washing Machine?

As privacy seekers some times we engage in practices that do not involve asking the bank, or the government or our mommy for approval. It’s not criminal activity, but it pisses a lot of entities off because they like to monitor our every move. When we do something that slips past the street cameras, the data mine fields and the automatic license plate readers on police cars and mounted at parks and recreation areas it tends to frustrate them. You may not have violated the law but it is sort of “Game On” for these entities and in their eyes it is up to them to make their move to bring you down to submission.

That opening statement is a blanket that could cover a lot of topics but today I am focused on the crime called “Money Laundering” or as Tony Montana called it “Washing Money”. When we hear the words we automatically think of guys like Tony or some white collar thug who is hiding his evil deeds through creative ways of cleaning up his money but it is important to understand that in the land of innocent until proven guilty (yea right!!) you could be swept up into this world if you can’t account for where your money comes from.
the machine
It doesn’t matter if you have worked construction and slept in a travel trailer for the past year to save your cash. You had better have some serious evidence to account for where that large amount of cash came from if you are investigated.
Allow me to give you a few tips. And NO, I will not assist any real money launderers to commit their evil.

Many times money laundering is associated with illegal drugs and business. Stay away from the drugs (don’t even use them) if you are working to amass large amounts of cash. If you get busted smoking a joint and then you are searched and found to have a large sum of cash then you will most likely get a laundering charge.

Money laundering is also associated with terrorism. If you are a terrorist fuck you. My concern is for the reader who may be business partners with someone abroad. Be very skeptical of your abroad partners. This is not just from the middle east. There are lots of potential terror organizations the privacy seeker would be better off not talking to.

In fact if you take on a business partner from anywhere you should look very deeply into where he or she is getting investment capitol. If your business partner is charged with something you will be as well. The biggest issue is not the amount of money but the source of it. Where did the money come from? Is that documented? I don’t like it any more than you, but if you go beyond those parameters consider yourself in the valley of the shadow of trouble.

I know I just said the origin is more important than the amount but the amount is very important. Any time ten thousand crosses the path of any authority (mostly banks) on it’s way to your hands or within your grasp an investigation is automatically triggered. That is what you will get from just about every publication and news source if you check around, but I have discovered over time that the number is more like eight thousand. You better be able to account for where that money came from.
Many creative individuals may think that perhaps dividing the amount and making two smaller transactions would be ok, and I would say it helps, but if you are investigated, the combined amount from a single source will be counted as one large amount and if you have 50 different sources which give you a small amount they could all be lumped in as one source if you can’t prove where all that came from. The media especially likes to report the largest number possible and your captors love to employ the media to sway public opinion.

This is not everything you need to know but it is a quick reminder that while seeking privacy you need to watch your steps. You will be increasingly looked down upon by entities who need your information to make money and those powercrats who just drink blood as their source of sustenance and in my opinion, Privacy Seeker, your blood is the purest!!

Being Commonly Recognized in Public – It’s a Blessing and a Curse.

Today when I visited the corner convenience store in my neighborhood a man approached me, asking who I was and inquiring as to whether he knew me. I can tell you with certainty that I have never seen this man in my life. To most people this would be no big deal perhaps, but for those of us who value our personal privacy and anonymity, it’s a little unnerving. In fact, this week I was asked no less than 3 times by 3 different people if we had met previously. They all were sure they’d met me before, they went to school with me or I worked somewhere they knew me from. I’ve never been known for having a great memory, but I’m very good at recognizing and remembering faces. To me, this was annoying, but also a compliment, because blending in is what I have worked hard to do.
guy with beard homeless
The lessons that I draw from this experience and what I think is worth passing on about privacy are twofold. The first lesson is that when it comes to privacy, it’s good to blend in. If you really care about privacy then you won’t be dressed in the most flashy clothing and jewelry you can find, driving a yellow SUV and blasting your car stereo as you ride through town. Potential thieves may see you and assume you have money and paint you as a potential target for home invasion.

Solution: Look around you at what is the median, that is, what is most common in your area. For example, if you’re looking for a new car (or used), but want to blend in, find out what car is common where you live. Is everyone driving a Honda Civic or a Chevy Tahoe? Yes, privacy is sometimes boring, but thinking in this manner could save your life!

The second lesson, and this one may be harder to adopt, is to be prepared to play your role. Many of us grew up in friendly neighborhoods, rural communities and towns here in the United States and assumed that our futures would be much like it was then. People were trustworthy and friendly in general, people knew your name and you knew theirs. There was a social contract that right was right, and wrong was wrong. Yes there were exceptions and crime is as old as humanity, but it was limited. At the risk of sounding extremely pessimistic, I am here to tell you that “we aren’t in Kansas anymore!” The social contract was broken long ago and those values our grandparents fought so hard for are quickly being eroded by so much modern poison – but that’s a subject for another blog.

Bottom line, you may have to be prepared to tell a little white lie or two. When a stranger asks your name, you don’t have to tell them your real name! This is something I really struggled with at first. I was always taught to be honest and respect others, and you can still do this – except when privacy is at stake or you’re dealing with strangers who may well mean you harm. So start thinking about a common name or two you like. Get out your local phone book (or look online) and flip through it. What surnames (last names) are common? Those are good candidates. And if you are doing something like getting your oil changed or getting a haircut, please don’t provide the business with your real address (they just use the information for tracking and targeted advertisement anyway). I think you get the idea from here. What we’re promoting here is ultimately your privacy, so don’t go trying to commit crimes – didn’t you know that crime doesn’t pay?!