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How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life (Revised Edition) Hardcover – March 18, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
For example, I don't carry my drivers license around anymore. The entertainment factor of pulling a passport out is almost as beneficial as the privacy factor. Bank employees, concert security, bouncers, etc. usually look quite strangely at the passport, since most of them are used to reading everyone's drivers license all day. The cost of this small protection was minimal, and now I never have to give anyone my home address unless they deserve it, or I want to give it to them. Anyone who ever steals my wallet or gets ahold of it if I drop it won't find anything except a small amount of cash and useless items.
The book contains many other examples of protecting privacy, such as setting up ghost addresses, titling vehicles in LLCs, and not relying on borrowing money to live.
The small information on using credit is potentially the most important part of the book. In my work, I daily talk to people who have relied on credit to get them through life. When they come upon a hardship, they lean even heavier on credit to get through the hardship, while waiting for the future to get better. Unfortunately, hardships last longer than a few days or weeks, usually, and continuous leaning on credit will eventually cause the crutch to break.
In actuality, this could turn out to be a very long review, if I let it, because the ideas that are presented in the book are all a cause of conversation and reflection. However, for some readers, they will merely read the ideas and develop a thought pattern of saying "I can't do that, it's a lot of work." They will then deem the book impractical, outdated, or useless.
It's amazing to me, reading some of the low-star reviews, how misguided most of these reviewers are when reading this book. I assume they have read the book, or else they would presume to review it it, but their arguments sound like they read the concepts and assumed the practice would be too difficult, or they read the practical suggestions and did not have the creativity to use the examples as a starting point, not an ending point.
Apparently, one of the most visual and easily rememberable examples in the book is renting an empty broom closet for a ghost mail address. The argument that using an unoccupied broom closet as a mailbox is outdated is absurd. I honestly have not found a broom closet as a mailbox, but I'm sure one could be tracked down and rented. And renting a closet as a mailbox is an example of creativity in protecting your privacy, not a direct order from the author. Step One is not "Rent a broom closet and receive mail there," it's "Stop receiving mail at home." The broom closet and other examples are suggestions to get you thinking of uncommon ideas.
(If you don't like the broom closet idea, track down the guy using that as his address, and let him know you do not appreciate his creativity in protecting his privacy.)
In fact, that's the point most low-star reviewers seem to miss: the examples are examples of creativity in making a difficult activity (protecting your privacy) slightly easier. Of course it would be easier just to rent a box from a local UPS Store, but then you have to show ID, give them your actual address, and your name goes into the company database, to be sold or rented to anyone.
It would be even easier to continue using your own home address to receive mail. But again, the book was not written to tell you how to do what you are already doing.
And the argument that you can't see any way around giving out your SS#, etc., to employers or for a background check for a job is just as absurd. You may as well argue that you're no better than a cow being herded for slaughter, to be cut up, creatively packaged, and sold off piece by piece. Actually, I might prefer that to working some of my old jobs, which I only took because I felt I didn't have any other option than finding a good company to work for.
It's because I read this book that I decided to get out of being employed and opened my own business. Almost a year later, I haven't been forced to find even a part time job to supplement my self-employment income.
More than just becoming invisible, maybe the major theme of the book is Creativity, and the book is targeted to creative people who are willing to work to change their lives.
For the uncreative, who are stuck with no other options than working for an employer and lacking the skills and motivation to protect their privacy, maybe the government will pass a law allowing people to become "invisble" by filing a simple form at the post office. Just give them your SS#, home address, phone number, and two pieces of picture ID every few months, and they will put you in a database to keep you invisible. That'll be easy enough for everyone to do, right?
One last point about the "extreme" newspaper exceprts in the book: you can consider those quite dated because since those stories appeared, hundreds of stories just like them have been published with the same results. Search Google, Yahoo, your local library's stock of newspapers, or any other source and you'll see more "extreme" cases of stalkers, scam artists, criminals, and frivolous lawsuits.
In conclusion, this is a great book if you want to protect your privacy. Use it as a starting point and as a reference for future ideas. But if you're expecting the book itself to protect you, then you are making a dangerous assumption. Only you can protect yourself.
Hopefully this wasn't an overly long review, and if you enjoyed reading any part of it, then thanks! And if you disagree with any part, then I'd be happy to mail you a personal note asking for forgiveness. Just email me your name, home address, and social security number. :-) Just kidding.
If you buy this book and then spend the following 6 to 12 months implementing the methods outlined in it, NO ONE, not even our benevolent and noble government (ha!) will know where to find you. And I mean NO ONE. You will be able to own real estate, vehicles, and whatever else you want or need without concern that professional snoops like me or government thugs or ID stealing criminals or ex-lovers turned stalkers or anyone else will be able to find you.
I bought this book, read it cover to cover, then gave it to a friend to read 'cause he has a real need to make sure no one knows his "green" business. I made him promise to pass it along to others in the same business. People need privacy. YOU need privacy.
Speaking from first-hand experience, it REALLY sucks trying to explain to the IRS that the person in Hickburg, Missouri who has used your SSN to obtain fraudulent employment is not you. You think it would be as simple as saying, "Dear wonderful and benevolent IRS -- I live in Seattle, and can prove it with page upon page of documentation, and therefore could not have possibly been working as a stripper in the Midwest for eight months of 2003", and all would be right with the world. Right? Wrong. The IRS continues to send you demands for payment of $400 in back taxes while they take months upon months to straighten the whole mess out.
ID theft is a nightmare to sort out, because the IRS, or the bank that loaned the ID thief $25,000 based on YOUR identity info, or the credit card company who issued a $10,000 line of credit to an ID thief based on YOUR identity info, or the department store, or the casino, they quite simply DO NOT CARE about your problems. They want their money, and when faced with the choice between tracking down the real criminal or just prosecuting you, which is cheaper and easier? Suddenly you'll find that YOU are the one being treated like a criminal and YOU are the one who has to prove to these faceless corporations that YOU didn't borrow any money from them even though their records show that YOU in fact DID.
Proper implementation of the privacy methods in this book will ensure that nothing like this -- and believe me these ID theft scenarios can get a LOT worse -- will happen to you in the future. And there are other nasties out there besides just ID thieves -- see above.
This book shows you how to make sure that your identity information doesn't fall into the hands of the wrong people, and just as importantly, shows you how to make sure that no one can find your physical location based on your address. That means that you should NEVER but NEVER NEVER get your mail where you live. The address on your car registration, on your driver's license, in your Amazon profile, WHEREVER, should NEVER be the address where you physically reside. The author shows you how to set up ghost addresses which believe me is very valuable information because you NEVER KNOW who's gonna come looking for you.
This book is full of modern-day "street smart" wisdom for keeping your information out of the hands and minds of the wrong people, and keeping the wrong people from being able to harm you, sue you, borrow money in your name, snoop through your files, or anything else. My advice: buy three copies and give two to people you care about. Seriously.
This book teaches how to do everything from just having your mail sent to different address to almost creating a whole new identity. Most people would only need minimal privacy enhancement to help them sleep at night, and this book accommodates that person. Surprisingly, though, it also accommodates the person looking to being as close to invisible as possible!
Overall, this book is a fast read that is sectioned off well. You do not need to read every chapter in this book, but can simply skip to each chapter that pertains to you. Most of all, it has the simple step-by-step legal methods that almost anyone can employ and help keep their personal welfare a little more secure.