Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some Ideas In Response to "Track Me If You Can"

The ideas gleaned from "Track Me If You Can" were good. Here's some more ideas for flying below the radar:
  • Stop using your email, your cell phone, your debit and credit cards, and other trackable sources a month before you leave.
  • Before you leave, destroy the hard drive on your computer and basically chop up your computer and distribute amongst dumpsters throughout your city.
  • Burn all of your personal documents.
  • Consider leaving your home via city bus or better yet, a ride on CraigsList (found through an anonymous computer and anonymous email account).
  • Determine how you will leave (ie: abruptly leaving a wife who would A. think you are dead and collect on your life insurance which would be insurance fraud or B. call out every resource known to man to find you thus plastering your face all over the national news is sub-optimal).
  • As you are traveling, pick up a pre-paid cell phone with cash. You will only use this phone in the event of an emergency, not to call friends and relatives.
  • Change your appearance bit by bit as you go along.
  • Choose a new town, preferably a small city that isn't heavily invested in security (I've walked into courthouses in small cities in the middle of nowhere and haven't seen a metal detector at the entrance or cameras on the ceilings at all which is pretty surprising).
  • Legally change your name. Unless you have the contacts to get top quality documents with your new name and info (if you have to ask who these contacts might be then go the legal route).
  • Rent a room from someone instead of having your own place (obviously pay in cash, be cordial but not forthcoming with personal information, and don't get any of the house bills in your name).
  • Ride a bicycle instead of having a car.
  • Don't become a creature of habit.
  • If you have compelling reasons for totally disappearing, consider plastic surgery to alter your appearance and fingerprints (sorry, not much can be done to distort retinas and DNA).
  • Move often.
  • Work for cash only.
  • Pay cash only. For everything.
  • Choose an itinerant lifestyle (perpetual traveler, migrant worker, live in a third world country, etc).
  • Never use anything that can be used to track you: GPS, transit pass, loyalty cards, credit cards, frequent flyer miles, etc.
  • Don't do anything illegal (once you are in the justice system, your privacy is pretty much gone).
  • Live with the homeless for a while to get a sense of (and learn the skills of) their way of life. (Note that many homeless are fully connected to the system garnering everything from food stamps to welfare to medical services from the government so this part you may want to skip).
  • Live in the mountains (easier said than done).
  • Study and practice skills that are easily saleable (mechanics, plumbing, construction, etc). Do this after you have left your original home so the skills can't be used to track you.

Living a totally hidden life is actually not much of a life. It is lonely and worrisome and not a whole lot of fun so your circumstances need to be pretty dire to do this (think Witness Relocation type of dire).

On the other hand, you can take plenty of steps to significantly cut back on how you could be tracked and continue to live a fairly "normal" life. At this writing, my house in is the process of being sold and the spouse and I will be living in both a third world country and in the home of a relative when we are in the states. Our vehicle is being sold as well. I already have no credit cards and pay cash for everything. I don't use loyalty programs. I tend to walk or bike when at all possible, take public transportation, and generally avoid driving if I can. Our lifestyle is minimal and our needs are minimal so we don't buy lots of stuff. While I would previously find myself in newspapers and occasionally on TV, I have changed my business significantly enough to stay out of the public eye even on a local scale. You get the idea. So while I am technically not "hiding" from anyone and can enjoy the friends, family, and hobbies that I have always enjoyed, I am still making a concerted effort to scale back how visible I am to the powers that be.


  1. Okay, I have to ask: why are you going off the grid and choosing to live in a third world country? Obviously I don't expect you to give specifics, but a nice general idea of what you're trying to avoid would be enlightening.

  2. Good question. See today's post for the answer(s).