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How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace Hardcover

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How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace + How to Be Invisible: Protect Your Home, Your Children, Your Assets, and Your Life + Hiding from the Internet: Eliminating Personal Online Information
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; First edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599219778
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599219776
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“It may shock the hell out of you. It did me…. I couldn’t put this book down, finding out all of the ways anyone could get their hands on information about any of us.  You’re more vulnerable than you may think.” -  Tammy Chase, Chicago Sun-Times

“Ahearn's treatise contains some valuable tips you can use to reclaim some of the privacy you've relinquished, knowingly or not, by using Google, Facebook, Yahoo and most other popular Internet-enabled services.” – USA Today

From the Inside Flap

Frank M. Ahearn built his first career by finding people who didn’t want to be found—from philandering celebrities to a certain White House intern (Monica Lewinsky) before anybody had heard of her, as well as countless cheaters, frauds, and bad guys. Using the “skip tracer” techniques he developed in the process, Ahearn embarked on a second career counseling those who wanted not to be found. If you’ve ever fantasized about disappearing—literally dropping out of sight or just eliminating the traceable evidence of your existence—How to Disappear is your guide.

In a world-wise, straight-talking, wryly humorous narrative, Ahearn provides field-tested tips, tools, and techniques for maintaining privacy, as well as strategies for protecting personal information and preventing identity theft. You’ll learn key tactics such as misinformation (destroying all the data known about you), disinformation (creating fake trails), and reformation (getting where you want to be without leaving clues). Throughout, Ahearn shares real-life stories of his fascinating career—from
nabbing adulterous celebrities to helping abuse  victims find safety.

An indispensable resource not just for those determined to be anonymous, but for almost anyone in the brave new world of online information, How to Disappear sums up Ahearn’s dual philosophy: Don’t break the law, but know how to protect yourself.

More About the Author

Sometimes individuals find themselves in precarious situations and the only resolution to a problem is to disappear. My specialty is getting you from point A to point B without being located. In the past my tactics were erasing your digital foot prints which assisted in the disappear process. However, we have reached a point in society where all of our online and offline existence is tracked. What I do is teach you how to remove yourself from digital connections through the use of third party services. The goal is to become a Virtual Entity where you have no connections to anything physical. This is accomplished by using prepaid cell phones, prepaid debit cards, offshore bank accounts, money transfer services and a host of other cool tools.

Sometimes the unfortunate and unwanted arrives at your doorstep or computer screen. If you or your organization is faced with a dilemma you cannot seem to resolve my unique and sometimes unorthodox stratagem services can be of help.

To give you an example of my services i share the story of a Senior Vice President from a private equity firm. One afternoon it was discovered that a criminal who ran a Ponzi scheme used the name of the SVP in the crime. The criminal was never apprehended and when the SVP's name was typed into search engines, information about the Ponzi scheme, the SVP and his firm dominated the pages. This was not good for business.

The private equity firm hired a reputation company to do website suppression. The reputation company built positive information about the SVP in order to push down the negative Ponzi scheme information. This was a waste of time because when the website suppression ended the bad information floated back up to the first few pages of the search engines. In addition, if someone searched past page three on a search engine they would discover the Ponzi scheme information which looked as if the SVP was the criminal.

When I was called into to assist my suggestion was to create an online identity for the criminal which would differentiate him from the SVP. I gave the criminal a background from Berlin, schooled in London and divorced from a woman in Brussels. I also posted photos to give him a face and I built social media and web sites supporting all of this information about the criminal.

What this accomplished was, if some searched the SVP's name online they would see my client the upstanding private equity man and the criminal who shares my clients name. The searcher would recognize they are two different people. Being able to differentiate from the client and the criminal was the solution.

Frank M. Ahearn is author of How to Disappear, The Digital Hit Man and How to Disappear From BIG BROTHER!

Note How to Disappear From BIG BROTHER only available at

Customer Reviews

Repetitive and boring.
Even if you don't want to disappear completely this book contains many valuable tips and tricks for taking control of your identity.
A book about shady things by a shady guy with a shady story to tell.
- Garry -

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While I have my doubts that one can disappear completely without "special assistance" (as in government help or an extreme amount of money), there *are* some ways to make it a lot more difficult to be found by non-government officials. Frank Ahearn and Eileen Horan cover a lot of that information in their book How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace. This is not a large encyclopedic manual on how to eliminate your existence; rather it's more a handbook on how to make it more difficult to be traced (and a lot more expensive for those determined to do so).

I'm Frank. Nice To Meet You; Meet Your Enemy - The Skip Tracer; A Skip Tracer's Best Friends; Time To Disappear; Misinformation; Tracks And Clues In The Home; Disinformation; Your Reformation Arsenal; Reformation; How Not To Disappear; Disappear From Identity Thieves; Disappear In Social Media; Disappear From A Frog; Disappear From A Stalker; Disappear From The Country; Pseudocide 101; Final Thoughts; Acknowledgments; Index

Ahearn was a professional skip tracer, a person paid to track people down. Using both legal and illegal methods, he was usually able to find whoever he was going after as they nearly always left a trail of some sort. In Disappear, he takes the other side of the equation and talks about what someone would need to do to make it more difficult and expensive to find them. While some of them are obvious (stop using social media, don't use your credit cards), others are more tricky and require some time and effort (and money) to put into place. For instance, in one case he had a person open a small checking account and the ATM card was given to a friend who traveled extensively.
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237 of 263 people found the following review helpful By Ben Rothke on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A book such as How to Disappear : Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace, scores very high on the cool factor. Ultimately though, it's one of those books that details things you should not try at home.

Author Frank Ahearn is a professional skip tracer; which is a person who locates other people. The term comes from the word skip being used to describe the person being searched for, and comes from the idiomatic expression to skip town, meaning to depart, perhaps in a rush, and leaving minimal clues behind for someone to trace the skip to a new location. Often these people are wanted by the government, family, spouses, or other authorities.

The book is touted as the "authoritative and comprehensive guide for people who seek to protect their privacy, as well as for anyone who's ever entertained the fantasy of disappearing - whether actually dropping out of sight or by eliminating the traceable evidence of their existence". Those are a number of very different goals.

For those who seek to protect their daily privacy in the physical world, the book provides a lot of good, high-level insights.

Since the author admits he isn't a technology expert, the book doesn't offer significant input on how to ensure online privacy, short of saying that one shouldn't use social media. Readers wanting to protect their online privacy can use effective resources such as CDT's Guide to Online Privacy for such topics.

Most people want to protect their privacy, and while many do entertain a fantasy of simply disappearing, the reality is that true disappearance is extraordinarily difficult and fraught with risk.

At 197 small pages, the book is a quick read and covers all of the key points.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Clemans on May 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend "How to Disappear" as a follow up to "How to Be Invisible" by J.J. Luna. How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life (Revised Edition) teaches how to ensure your name is not linked to your home and vehicles using nominees and corporations. "How to Disappear" teaches how to waste the time and money of your pursers.

The lack of specific advice in "How to Disappear" for keeping your location absolutely secret gives a false sense of security. Frank recommends using corporations (pg. 88). However he doesn't give specific advice like J.J. Luna does. Frank does not mention New Mexico in "keywords for building your corporation." New Mexico is the only US state not requiring LLC members to be registered. I believe you're putting yourself at great risk if your name and location is tied together in any database.

This book gives unnecessarily restrictive advice about using computers. Frank says "never use [your new computer] to access the internet from your home." (pg. 90) I strongly disagree with "Not recommended: anonymizing software" (pg. 68) and the implied recommendation to use the WIFI at a café or bookstore. Frank doesn't recommend anonymizing software because he doesn't know if it's effective. Proxies and Virtual Private Servers (VPN) are generally effective at not immediately disclosing your IP Address and geographic location. Many providers claim to permanently protect your identity by not logging your IP Address, see "Torrent Freak: Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously?
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