Posted by Book Mavens on December 3rd, 2010
Title: How To Disappear. Erase your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish Without a Trace
Author: Frank M. Ahearn
Publisher: Lyons Press, Sep 2010
Summary: The author of this book used to be a “skip tracer”, which is a person who tracks people by uncovering private information. He or she will find jailbirds, subpoenaed witnesses, and anybody else, including movie stars, who are trying to hide. The reason why this former profession is so important is that Mr. Ahearn knows how to obtain information on just about anybody– and in this book he describes exactly where and how he can do it. You may ask yourself why you should care? Who would want to find out about me? It is important to know that your personal information is a valuable commodity, no matter who you are.
You will be surprised to learn some of the most fruitful sources of information are real live customer service representatives: the author says that with charm and pretext, he can get just about any information that he needs. Ahearn also names utility companies and cable TV companies as a valuable repository of customer information and easy to infiltrate. (In one instance, he pretended to be a repair person for a cable company and called in requesting a telephone number of a customer who needed service–the number was promptly provided. )
And as you may have guessed, social networks and viral media are privacy’s worst enemies.
The use of credit cards leaves a long trail information. According to the author, other rich sources of personal information are phone companies, cellular companies, Video rental stores, banks, magazine subscription services, and frequent flier accounts!
If you are curious about what sort of information is out there (other than googling) on you, take a look at Zabasearch, which is known as the skip tracers promised land. I did not want to pay the $10 to see what else they had about me, but someone might. While I personally do not need to or want to disappear, I have become uncomfortable about my personal security. This book is not a complete “how to” on how to protect yourself from identity theft, but it is an short and easy read that will have you thinking of being less casual with your personal information.
Recommended by: Susan Z., Reference Librarian