We’re not talking about dyeing your hair, getting a fake passport and bus ticket to Mexico. We’re talking about concealing your personal information from public view. And we aren’t suggesting that you hide from creditors. This information is for people who have been attacked, threatened, or fear for their safety. After years of finding people for a living, we know which techniques work, and which do not. There are no guarantees here as a good investigator may still find you, but here’s some sound advice:
First of all, move and start fresh. Move to a new home or apartment. If you can pay cash to stay in a spare room at the home of a friend or relative, you’ll be even more “off the grid” but only if you go for a non-obvious choice. Someone who knows your background may stop by or call your parents or your siblings. So don’t be at those places, and make sure those relatives have your back and won’t disclose your real location. Another advantage to renting a room from someone else is that the utility bills are not in your name. The reason you don’t want utilities in your name is that the utility companies and be tricked into giving up your address.
If you buy a new home, do it via another entity, such as a trust. Celebrities use this technique frequently as it hides their identity from view in public records. Otherwise, your deed will be viewable for free at the county clerk recorder’s office, and anyone can match your name and address there. Make sure that the trust doesn’t have your name in it. If your name is Willy Loman, the “Willy Loman Family Trust” isn’t going to help.
If you plan to rent from a proper landlord, that’s fine too. Just be sure to create a separate mailing address. In fact, whether you rent, buy, or couch-surf at a new place, create a separate mailing address at either a post office or private mailbox company. Inform all of your creditors to forward mail to the new mailbox address, so all of your bills and incoming mail will go there. Professional detectives, process servers, and skip tracers can still track your real address through a Post Office Box (POB) or Private Mail Box (PMB), because by law, those entities that rent the boxes must supply the physical address of the box holder when asked by a professional in the legal field. But there’s a way around that. When you rent the mailbox, list a different nearby address than your real one. Put down your brother’s office address or your parents’ home address. Make sure those dots will not connect directly to you.
If you have a POB or PMB, forward your mail to the box and don’t update the registration. Anyone who tries to get the forwarding information from your old address will find the Box address. Then if they try to find the registered address of your Box, all they’ll find is your old address. This effectively creates a frustrating “loop.”
Use that new mailbox address anytime you are required to fill out a form. Don’t give out your new physical address. Use the Box address if you apply for a new credit card, join a gym, update your professional license online (if you have one), or if you file a UCC form for a business loan. Information from these sources can be found online and through credit header reports (which eventually are resold as people finder data). You don’t want to spoil all of your work by subscribing to a newspaper and having your new street address then be resold to a people finder site. Newspaper delivery staff can be tricked into giving up your address, so if you love morning newspapers as we do, mosey down to the corner store.
If you set up a landline at your new place, make sure it is non-published, and have them mail the bill to your Box. This will stop 95% of the people from finding it. Detectives can still hire special phone hacker types to turn over your non-published number, but it will cost them. If you go for the mobile phone only approach, make sure your carrier makes that number non-published, and that they do not resell their customer databases. Again, use your PMB or POB as your address.
Contact people-search companies and opt-out of their databases. Usually this requires an email to their opt-out department. Do this BEFORE you move and you should be able to keep them from showing your new address.
If you must participate in social media, be sure your profiles do not give out information such as your address, neighborhood, or city. Plant misdirects if you wish. Blog about your new (fictional) home in Buenos Aires.
Online records can also include traffic tickets, court records, criminal records, judgments, marriage & divorce records, property records, etc. You cannot scrub address data from these databases, so to be sure your new address does not get recorded on one of these documents, try not to be involved in any civil or criminal cases. Good advice to anyone, really.
And don’t list your home address or email address online. Period.