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I want to start off by saying that disappearing is far harder now than it was a few decades ago. Before the internet was widely available, digital cameras and inexpensive smartphones tracking and tracing someone were nearly impossible unless you were very dedicated or had access to high-tech official gear.
How To Disappear (As Much As Possible) and Deal With the Consequences
Bank and credit cards
If you use any electronic means to pay for something, you can be assumed to be in a certain area. Some banks advise to let them know if you intend on traveling so they will know not to flag transactions. Even my small-town bank has a way to file a travel report online. I think it is very invasive to feel like you need to let your bank know if you go on a trip just so you can be assured they don’t block your transactions. It shows that they are watching every purchase you make.
Banking records make you easier to find so if you really want to disappear you will need to use cash or have money stashed in accounts
If you decide to “disappear” one of the first things the police will do when you
Cars and trucks have low jacks
Cars and trucks have GPS trackers in them.
Cars and trucks can even
Cell phones and computers listen and track
If you have a smartphone, then you should know that Google knows exactly where you are at any given time. I know that when I get back from town, my phone is asking me how all the locations were that I shopped at. This is openly admitting that they are tracking movements all the time. They make no apologies about asking you for a review of the place they tracked you to.
It is not a coincidence that if you have a conversation with someone else near your phone or computer, you will get targeted advertising of things you discussed. If we mention a piece of farm equipment, both Matt and I will get ads for them later on. It is very creepy and honestly is not the best used of advertising dollars. If you buy a sprayer in town, then you certainly don’t need a sprayer advertised on your phone or comp but since your banking and conversations are not as private as you would like, you get ads for things you have already bought and might not buy again for a long time.
Consider having accounts and property in a company name rather than your own.
Shell companies or companies owning property rather than individuals is one way to keep things private. I can go on any county tax record site and discover who lives where or at least where they own property. If the name on a deed is a company, it can be impossible to tell who owns it without really digging into it a lot.
While I will not say that someone
Avoid cameras whenever possible
Cameras are everywhere so this is a very difficult thing to do. At the same time you can attempt to avoid areas where you know a lot of cameras are in place. If you have to be in an area with lots of cameras, then wear hats and glasses that make it harder to identify you. This can only offer you so much concealment but it
Some cameras are not as good as you might expect. Cheap security cameras only offer a certain level of resolution. Other factors such as a dirty lens or a poor internet connection can
Wear clothing that doesn’t stand out
Basic colors and clothing styles are best if you want to blend in. This can depend on where you are living at the time or it may be something you have to vary a lot depending on the situations you face. If you are trying to blend into an area where a lot of the guys are wearing business suits for example, you would want
Consider your hairstyle or any features that may stand out like tattoos, piercings, or prominent birthmarks
If I was trying to blend in or disappear, I would take extra care to cover up my tattoos. Bright hair colors or unique styles are asking for people to notice which is the last thing you want if you are trying to disappear. If you have any facial or noticeable piercings, you can get clear retainers if you don’t want to give them up permanently.
Some heavy makeup like that made by Dermablend can cover up birthmarks, scars, and even very large tattoos if needed. Otherwise you can wear clothing that covers up identifying marks. That is not always realistic though so something made for major cover up may be worth purchasing.
Do not own a car or other form of transportation that requires a license, permit, or insurance.
Bicycles and public transportation are a few options for those trying to disappear. Motorized vehicles require a paper trail of permits and insurance that make it impossible to hide. Of course you could register a car as being owned by a company or LLC rather than you directly. Regardless, if you really want to disappear, a privately owned car is going to make it easier for others to figure out who you are and where you get your mail.
Disappearing is going to require a lot of walking, taking cabs, or riding subways and buses. Remember that public transit has a lot of cameras so try not to look towards any that you know are in place.
Bicycles may not be a
Plenty of people say that they are taking a break from social media from time to time. You may want to do this too but at some point you are going to have to get rid of your profile entirely. If people are really used to seeing updates and pictures from you then you may want to be more gradual with the process. Start out by posting only every so often. If someone says something you can just say that you have a lot going on with work or school or some other excuse that everyone uses.
If you have a decent size social media following, then you may want to announce why you are leaving. With so many people getting fed up with it, no one will be that surprised if you announce that it is a time sucker, there are too many weirdos, ect. Now is actually a great time to bow out because people are really getting sick of the censorship, trolling, and stalker types that frequent it.
Keeping a low profile is important and helps with privacy even if you don’t want to disappear for the most part.
I write a lot and so there are all kinds of people that know a bit about my husband and I but that is out in the world of the internet, not where we actually live. Out of our small county of roughly 56,000 people, hardly anyone knows us. Part of this is because neither of us went to high school here and we do not have kids in school, nor do we work in town. If you live in the small town you went to high school in then good luck keeping as low a profile as you might like.
While my Dad and his whole family are from the area, I was born somewhere else and then moved here at 16. When people
We don’t go out to restaurants or major events in town.
I have lived on this mountain continuously for nearly 12 years with my husband. Before that we spent two years in Alaska. When we moved here just a handful of people even knew we staying on our property.
All that “staying away” is not for everyone but for us it works out even if it is
We stay busy all the time and without disappearing somewhat we would never have had the time, energy, or money to do the things
Do not use cell phones unless it is a “burner phone”.
It is best to stay off the phone unless
I know that it is hard for some to imagine not using a cell phone but
Consider using pay phones when and where you can find them. I know they are rare but places like bus stations and near airports still have some pay phones. If you are trying to be super careful, be sure to not use the same one too frequently.
Withdraw all your money from your bank over a time
period. Doing so all at once may look suspicious.
Small amounts of money are not as noticeable. Withdrawing $5,000 or more at a time regularly may seem strange at some banks. Doing so once and then not for a while could work because plenty of people pay in cash for used cars or farm equipment so a larger withdrawal is not immediately a cause for concern.
You will need a safe place to store cash or multiple places. This is up to you. A lot of people just hide their money wherever they are living at the time. Having a lot of cash on you or in your house can be comforting and nerve wracking at the same time.
Some people are more social than others either by choice or accident. Those that are naturally less social will have an easier time disappearing and cutting ties with people they know.
Be prepared for someone to search for you.
If you have kids or other
Starting over is not easy but it can be done
Even if totally disappearing is not realistic or possible, it is totally possible to start your life over somewhere else and leave behind your old life. I know about this because from ages 12-16 I planned on leaving Washington State for North Carolina with my father. While I told a few friends good bye, I did not tell any family members that we were leaving. My brother knew, and that was it. We just got on the bus and left. I definitely had family members threaten to make me return when I finally called and told them I was in the Dakotas and had no intention of ever coming back to a place with no opportunity. When people want to control your life, you leaving can cause a lot of grief for them.
I had two bags, and that was it. I left everything in a house in Washington and
I got rid of a lot of photos and you should too if you want to start over.
There are photos of me from a long time ago but
If you really intend on disappearing, you need to get rid of as many pics as possible and avoid new ones or at least new ones where your features are very distinguishable.
So is there anyway to really totally disappear?
To truly disappear and not just go into hiding to avoid certain people, you only have two options and they are pretty extreme ones.
The bottom line is that you will probably need some significant help if you wish to disappear. This help can be bought or you may be able to get someone close to you to help you start over. It can be good to have someone that is involved in the real world to be a needed link when some things need to happen or goods need to be acquired.
Choice 1 Destitution and homelessness
Have no attachments to anything. Choosing to live this way means living a very rough lifestyle. You may be able to earn some money doing odd jobs but that could be difficult at times because people are fearful of trusting strangers, especially those that are just drifting through a town or look like they are seeing some very hard times.
To survive like this you would need to be comfortable eating out of trash cans or similar. There will be times when it is hard to find food so you will probably steal some at the point you get hungry enough.
Most of the people that have disappeared
Another case that made the national news where someone dropped out of society is that of “The North Pond Hermit“. Christopher Knight was just 19 years old when he took to the woods in 1986. He lived there by stealing food a lot
Save up $50K-$500K and get passports for you and your family that allow you to live abroad.
It has been a long time, but I have read of varying prices depending on the country you want to buy citizenship to. Of course this would mean leaving everything behind essentially. You may also want to consider that only some countries will let you take a dog or cat with you and the process may be quite difficult. One reason a lot of people are choosing to get a different passport is that it allows them to travel more easily to a lot of other countries and stay longer too.
Be careful when starting
Even if you are a frequent traveler, some of that traveling is probably going to require that you stay in the country that issued your VISA for 10 days per year or something like that or your VISA may be revoked. Hopefully you are picking a country where you might actually enjoy spending some time but the truth is some of the cheapest VISAs are from countries that are not the most popular places to visit.
Living abroad is a big life change and you will either need to be independently wealthy or able to get a job overseas legally. Employment can make it hard to be
You may not
be able to return so easily to your old life if you ever miss it.
People will not trust you to not leave again and you will disturb something in them because it is honestly not that common for someone to
Truly disappearing is almost impossible in today’s modern and super connected world. There are some things you can do to keep a lower profile but to really start over or disappear requires shedding all aspects of your old life and keeping things to yourself.
Disappearing is not something that most people have it in them to do. It is simply too hard and requires either enormous resources such as being independently wealthy or living like someone that is destitute and never having any major attachments.
It is far more realistic for the average person to just keep a low profile. If you really want to make a big life change than I recommend doing what I did at 16 years old and starting over thousands of miles away where it is impossible to
At 36, I feel that I have lived two different lives. My life on the West Coast seems so detached but I sometimes think about it because it helps to think how far you have come when you are feeling
Taking a lot of steps to be anonymous or disappear could
be seen as suspicious
I feel that
What do you do to protect your privacy? Have you ever completely started over? How did you distance yourself from people that were a part of your old life?