We should be protecting privacy offline anywhere we go whether be it a bank, hospital, store or a restaurant. With privacy laws we should be protected from unnecessary force. But that is not always the case.
Are you concerned that your physical and offline privacy may have been compromised?
What about your Internet privacy? Are social networking websites doing enough to keep our physical addresses private? There have been a lot of concerns of stalking, sexual predators and identity theft in regards to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Online bullying has become a major problem.
Even if you take advantage of privacy settings the sad truth is that you still need to watch out for potential pretexting or phishing scams.
[pullquote]But others are after your body and not for flattering reasons.[/pullquote]WHAT IS PRETEXTING
When you consider physical privacy you cannot forget about your actual identity. Some people will go after your social security number, credit card numbers, bank account information, cell phone records, etc. But others are after your body and not for flattering reasons. They will do this through a process called “pretexting”.
What they do is pretend to be someone else or at least try to gain access to your private information under false pretenses. Sometimes they will even try to call banks to pretend they are somebody else, or even you!, in order to gain the victim’s bank account numbers, utility account numbers or addresses or a wide variety of information.
Some of the information they gather about you might be a matter of public record such as if you’ve ever filed bankruptcy or whether you pay real estate taxes. Somebody you know could try even be inadvertently dragged into pretexting after being lied to and thinking they are being helpful. It’s almost frightening how much anyone could find out about you with just a little information, such as cell phone number, birthdate or address.
In addition to being cautious, there are a couple of things you can do to be better at protecting privacy offline.
If you want to “be invisible”, you can try getting a ghost address. There are a few options. For instance, you could pay a small business to accept your mail or you could use a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA). You would have to promise not to use the address for anything illegal, of course. Another option is to get yourself a virtual address or office. The easiest way to do this is to get a mail forwarding service.
These types of service can really come in handy, especially if you want your packages to signed for while you are away or traveling or be scanned and forwarded to you via email, and allow your mail to be delivered somewhere other than your usual post office or home address.
GOING OFF GRID
You have probably heard this term used before to describe self-sustainability. It means to produce a significant amount of your home’s energy needs using renewable sources such as hydro, solar or wind. If you have no utility or electric bills, you will be even more difficult to find. This is such an effective method we even dedicated an entire article to this: Living Off The Grid: Privacy Through Resource Independence
Keep in mind that doing this is a lot easier for small homes and you can still reduce your dependence on electricity by investing in solar panels or wind turbines. With significant tax advantages offered by many governments this could even become a good monetary investment in addition to the privacy aspects. You would be surprised at how easily the average home can go “off-grid” without being disrupting to one's lifestyle.
The bottom line is that by not having to consume utilities means not having to disclose your location to a utility provider and thereby compromise your offline privacy.
PREPAID PHONE CARDS
One of the easiest ways to increase your cell phone security and privacy is to use for pay as you go cell phones. Drop that contract with your provider and stick with a prepaid service like H2O Wireless. Sure, you will still need to provide some information, such as your name and an address, but you will not have to worry about them digging into your credit report and making you sign a contract because most are either pay as you go or month to month.
A super ninja trick would be to pay for the service using BitCoins and finding a trustworthy intermediary, like Spend Bitcoins which offers bitcoin conversions to many popular merchants, to get the SIM card or setup the account information. Then you would be several layers removed from the company providing the communication service.
If you are concerned with your physical privacy then you will find it helpful to reduce your virtual foot trail. That will make it more difficult to find the physical you. Being aware of and resistant to pretexting, using a ghost address, taking your home off grid and using prepaid communication services are a few small steps you can take to make yourself less noticeable and vanish.
Hopefully, you now have an idea of protecting privacy offline in order to prevent identity theft. Keep these tips in mind and remember: ALWAYS go that extra mile to protect your personal information by implementing stealth tactics from How To Vanish The Book or The Mini-Guide To Personal Privacy.