Confirming a Skip Trace

Lately, I have been focusing on the skip tracing business because on a day to day basis it is far more exciting than the privacy business. The privacy work is cool and can be real exciting but there is something to picking up the phone and hunting someone down.

I think I have always had a love/hate relationship with skip tracing. Back in the early days it was like the wild west, no laws really stopped a skip tracer from pulling phone records or bank records. It was much of an underground world. I think the love/hate stemmed from being involved and successful at something that would eventually have to end. Not that all skip tracing had to end but the illegal aspect of pretexting phone companies and financial companies did.

The key to skip tracing today is knowing how to piece together information. Such information being database information, online information and offline information. Database and online information should be used with caution because it is not always up-to-date or accurate. Offline information, like closed service accounts are always useful and sometimes provide specks of information not available elsewhere. I believe a good skip tracer knows how decipher the useful information and string it together to figure out the direction of a skip.

However, how one goes about skip tracing is somewhat immaterial to how they confirm the results. Just because a database shows a subject living at Plaka, Elounda or even having current utilities on Riverdale Avenue in the Bronx, does not mean the subject is actually at that location. One of the terms never allowed in my office is, that’s what they said. Just because that is what they said, does not mean it is up-to-date, correct or even true.

I believe that a skip should be confirmed with information and verbal. Therefore, if I locate an address of a skip I then go for the verbal confirmation. What I do is, I pretext the skip with a water damaged box delivery and I misspell their last name and street name. If they correct me, it usually means I got them.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Little Black Book Of Skip Tracing: Creating Pretext, Mastering Social Engineering And Finding Anyone Anywhere

Disappearing from Disappearing

For years I have been obsessed with the idea of being number one in the disappearing world. I wanted to be the go to guy, the one who knew it all about disappearing. Maybe I do and maybe I do not. Either way I am feeling more like a creation, like a how to disappear reputation management.

Recently I have become involved in a relationship and have found myself being accountable for things I have stated online. Not that I fault my partner but the strangeness of my world generates a lot of curiosity. I found myself explaining that the person she reads about is a creation and not the person sitting across the table from her. I think she found this quite odd.

This conversation opened up some serious personal thought. What are we doing online when it comes to reputation management? Are we creating false images of ourselves, of what we want others to believe? It’s not truth but marketing and nothing more. It is strange writing about this considering I have done so much online disinformation.

Lately, I have been asking myself, what have I become. Will I be forever known as the disappear guy? I sure hope not but it is looking that way. I will end up like one of those child stars who can’t be recognized for anything else but.

I was in a class recently when a person asked if I have ever disappeared. I laughed it off like I wish. However, I think I am at the point where I want to disappear from the disappearing world. I have had my fill and it is time to become something else.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

How to Disappear Now!

If you had to disappear right here, right now what would you do? Would you hit the airport, bus station or drive off in your car? What wouldn’t you do? Go home, go to the bank or call family? Imagine that the need to disappear is urgent, your life and your freedom depends on this moment now.

Perhaps you planned well and stashed a walk-away bag (money, ID). What if that has been compromised? What if all disappear plans have been exposed? How do you react, how do you take action? Reacting is dangerous and your reactions can be anticipated by a predator. Create your actions not as a reaction based upon the scenario you were forced into but change the dynamics of your whole disappear strategy.  Perhaps you walk or hitch a ride out of town, you do something unexpected.

Your stalker will know certain anticipations about your reaction. You need to identify these ideas and not walk into them. The stalker may know of your friend across town, or the small private office you rented to plan the great escape. Think of the predator as being a mind reader who knows all. Nothing is safe, nowhere is safe – you must simply go with the clothes on your back and fall off the radar.

Going off the radar means you use nothing that can connect your identity. You do not rent a motel room or check into a hostel. You do not make any calls to anyone in your past. You couch surf or you sleep in a public space. You do not take public transportation but stick to the feet or hitching rides. You do not use anything that has an on or off button. You do not use anything that makes a connection, even a prepaid credit card. You must anticipate that all is compromised and nothing behind you is safe. The only course of action is to move forward and find a safe place to lay low. A safe place where you can re-plan your disappearance.

There here and now disappear puts you in the hunt. Your goal is to get out from the cross-hairs as quick as possible.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

Co-Existing With Digital Footprints

I have been thinking that privacy is no longer about being so extreme and trying to avoid digital footprints. Perhaps it is about co-existing with digital footprints and a certain amount of intrusion in order to create a lifestyle which actually leads to freedom. The reality is, technology is not going anywhere and the walls of how we access and communicate are only going to become thinner. Good thing, bad thing, who really knows but no matter what most of us will indulge.

The question is how does one co-exist with digital footprints? Do we just walk blindly into the night? Do we throw up our hands and say come take our information? No, definitely not. Like other situations in life we choose our battles. Choosing such battles takes personal responsibility and a conscientious act of deciding which technologies are a positive. One needs to determine if the sacrifice of personal information is worth the service being provided.

Think about the value of information from this point of view. You go to the corner store to purchase milk. The counter person offers the milk free in exchange for access to your mobile phone and email contacts. How many times have you been asked this when downloading an app? To some the milk exchange is absurd but to others, it is fair. It comes down to how you place a value on information, both your and others. Meaning, let’s say you turn down the milk offer but an hour later a friend of yours goes to the same store to buy a package of Ring Dings. The counter person makes the friend the same offer unlike you, the friend agrees to the exchange.

Begin to think about the value of your information and think about those you are connected with and how they are protecting your information. You could be fighting a battle of information that has already been surrendered by a friend, family or business associate. Perhaps co-existing is realizing that surrendering select information is inevitable and at times out of your control. This acceptance allows you to move forward and focus on real issues.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

Using Technology for Freedom

Yesterday I mentioned Digital Nomads, who are people who find freedom in travel. They do this by embracing technology which affords them a lifestyle on the road. In addition, there others who are not nomadic but choose freedom based upon where they live. These individuals embrace technology too. This is not to say they surrender their privacy. No, they use the technology that is needed in order to obtain the freedom they desire. Again, using the technology needed to obtain freedom.

The reality of using technology is we must give up information about ourselves if we want to utilize. This goes for free and pay for services. To a degree, it is a form of bartering, not always equally agreed.  The important part to keep in mind is to not place too much trust in the services you utilize. Meaning, just because a company states XY&Z in a privacy policy does not mean they will always stand behind the promise. What is the statement, the road to hell is paved with good intentions?

I believe that responsible privacy begins with the self. It must be you who decides what technology to use and what information to give away. That begins by reading which information is collected and how it is utilized. Then you must decide if the sacrifice of privacy is worth service. If so, I say indulge responsibly.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

Free Kindle Download: The Art of Disappearing, According to Sun Tzu’s, Art of War

On September, 21, free download of: The Art of Disappearing, According to Sun Tzu’s, Art of War on Amazon.

Those who pre–plan their disappearance will have a greater chance at succeeding than those who do not. The essential message here is to walk away with the understanding that, the act of pre-disappearing is equally as important as the art of disappearing. Therefore, view the contents of this book from the perspective of pre-disappearing.

The Art of Disappearing will be explained through, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, using Section I: Laying Plans. (Translated from the Chinese by Lionel Giles, M.A.) This is the first of thirteen books that will use the ancient treatise and apply it to how to disappear.

The Art of Disappearing focuses on thinking like a strategist, and applying your thoughts, decisions and actions during the three phases of disappearing. The know before you go, the day you disappear and post disappearing. Anyone can read a book about disappearing but not everyone knows how to think like a disappear strategist.

Frank . Ahearn




Privacy – Digital Nomad – Couch Surfer

Is there such a place where real privacy truly exists or is privacy something which needs to be created? We are sewn to our national identity numbers like never ending stories, be it the SSN, DNI, SIN, CURP or HKID we need one to exist. When you think about it, they are as much a part of us as we are of them. So the question is, in the quest for privacy, are we trying to escape a government, an attachment to an identity number or the boundaries of land?

Harry D. Schultz suggested the idea known as the Three Flag Theory. Which is owning a second passport, living in a tax haven and keeping your assets in another country. This is simplistic and is not really an ideal of privacy because it is just tools not a way of life. Nor does these acts protect one against government intrusion. Governments today have long arms and are shaking hands with one another.

Privacy could be as simple as being an expat in Lichtenstein or Padua. Or that of a couch surfer traveling one living room at a time. Privacy is not solely about disappearing or hiding your information but about redefining your world in a digital age.

In addition, privacy is not always about not creating digital footprints. There are those who are Digital Nomads and choose where they live and how they work. They embrace technology recognizing that giving up a little privacy leads to real personal freedom. Sometimes one must give something up to gain independence.

As time goes on I am beginning to wonder what all the fear is about when it comes to surrendering information. Perhaps I am becoming a dinosaur in the digital age, perhaps I need to give up a little more to find more of my own freedom. Maybe digital foot prints are not always a bad thing, maybe it is a question of who you give the footprints to. When you think about privacy, do not think of it as an absolute, think of it more as a give and take.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips