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Privacy 101

Written by Darrell Anderson.

Many people express concerns about protecting their privacy. What many fail to understand is that in any human relationship other parties possess standing to know with whom they are dealing. Identity is important. In past days, identity was not a huge issue because most people only did business within a confined geographical area and validating an individual’s identity was a straightforward process. As people continued to migrate, move, and mix with other people, identification became more challenging. Thus, the persistent effort to validate an individual’s identity. Therefore, people must remember that outside of local communities, there always will be efforts to authenticate an individual’s identity. There is no cure of the process as long as humans are creatures of limited knowledge.

The solution is to be more selective about providing such information. Additionally, individual’s must exert positive efforts to ask those people who receive that information to not use the information in undesirable ways. Overwhelmingly, sharing information is viewed as an automatic “opt-in” process. In other words, any information you share likely will be used by other people as they see fit, not as you see fit. You are the only individual who can quash those efforts. Often that means disclosing to other people that they cannot use the information you provide except as explicitly agreed. In extreme cases that means refusing to contract with some people when they refuse to honor your request.

However, even with all of that said, protecting your privacy is straightforward. With a few straightforward actions, anybody can dramatically reduce abuses of privacy — including those of political bureaucrats. The sad part is despite the following list of actions, few people change; and the moaning and groaning will continue.

Here are some simple tips to protect your privacy.

  1. Write to the people at Telephone Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735–9014. Tell them to mark the phone number you use as unavailable for any direct marketing purpose. You have to send a letter snail mail.
  2. Write to the people at Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735–9008. Tell them the same thing regarding snail mail addresses.
  3. Call the people at your telephone service provider and request an unlisted phone number. Typical cost is $1 to $3 per month. An unlisted number prevents listing in the phone book, but people can still obtain a number calling directory assistance. Usually an unlisted number is sufficient to dramatically halt telephone abuse and telemarketing, but if you want to prevent all access then request an unpublished number.
  4. Write or call the people at every subscription office for every magazine, newspaper, and periodical you receive and inform them that they cannot use any of your personal information for marketing purposes. You always have to opt-out with these people. This is a one-time effort but worth the time.
  5. Carefully monitor all snail mail you receive for the next six months to a year. As you did with subscriptions, do likewise with catalog companies, junk mail, etc. Cancel all catalogs, etc., that you never use or have no interest. This effort can become tiring but the bulk of the work is done within six months. If you have access to a computer then create a template letter for this job so all you need do is change the date, names, and addresses.
  6. Learn to be belligerent about revealing personal information, such as snail mail addresses, phone numbers, damnable SSNs, etc. Just flat out refuse to cooperate. Yes, that sometimes means sacrifice or shopping harder to find less obtuse people.
  7. Never return or mail a warranty or registration card. If you insist upon doing such acts, then attach a letter telling the people at that company they cannot use personal information for marketing purposes. Generally, those cards are not for providing warranties, but for collecting personal information. A simple ruse.
  8. Don’t do stupid things like receiving drunk driving traffic citations, requesting a statist-approved marriage license, or getting a statist-approved divorce. Your name ends up in the newspaper and in public records.
  9. Seriously consider not publishing wedding announcements, obituaries, etc. in the local newspapers.
  10. When you receive a solicitation telephone call, do not immediately hang up. Upon your first opening do not answer any questions but instead politely ask, “Who is calling, please?” Write this information on a piece of paper and the time and date. Then tell the caller the following, “Ah, Joe Shmoe of XYZ Corporation, thank you for the information. Pursuant to the federal [and state if applicable] telephone consumer protection act I want you to place this phone number on your ‘do not call’ list.” If anybody from that company calls again tell them the date and time they last called. Then repeat the previous message. Then say the following, “This is your second good faith notice. I remind you that if your company chooses to ignore this lawful request that under the federal [state] telephone consumer protection act, you can be sued for harassment. Do you understand what I just said?” When the caller responds, then politely say good bye and hang up.
  11. Don’t use vanity license plates. People more easily identify and remember you.
  12. Don’t place bumper stickers on your car. People more easily identify and remember you.
  13. Don’t place your name on your house mailbox. Or your house.
  14. For those people who do not subscribe to Caller ID services, activate Caller ID by pressing *67 before dialing a phone number.
  15. Don’t call toll-free phone numbers — Caller ID blocking does not function with those numbers. Or call toll-free numbers from a location other than home or office. If you insist upon calling toll-free numbers then be sure to inform the other individual to not add your name, mailing list, phone number, etc., to any tracking or marketing lists.
  16. Do not enter contests. If you hope to win a statist-sponsored lottery, know that if you win and choose to collect that you will lose much of your privacy.
  17. Use alternate or disposable email addresses if you choose to participate publicly in discussion lists, groups, etc. Do not get attached to an email address. Spammers eventually will require you to terminate an address and start a new one.
  18. Do not write your name in the return address of a snail mail envelope. The mailing address and zip code are sufficient to return the letter.
  19. Do not do stupid things like telling everybody you are on vacation. That includes answering machines and email autoresponders.
  20. Never volunteer information at Radio Shack or other stores using such blatant policies. When a cashier asks you to disclose your name tell them, “Cash!” Or if you want to have fun, memorize an obviously false name (how about Clem Kadiddlehopper, Freddy the Freeloader, or Gertrude and Heathcliff). Provide them their own postal mailing address.
  21. Do not use in-store buying cards.
  22. Learn if bureaucrats sell personal information obtained through driver’s licenses, voter registrations, etc. If so, then complete the appropriate form to opt-out.
  23. Always permanently destroy (shred, burn, or both) discarded snail mail and do not place the remnants into the general trash. Once on the curb that information is no longer considered your property and the statist judges have decided as much.
  24. Eliminate debt as quickly as practical. Less debt means fewer paper trails and invasions of privacy.
  25. Do not use or rarely use bank checks. Checks leave paper trails. If you use checks be sure phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and damnable SSNs are not printed on the check. Consider using a lawful but alternative mailing address such as a P.O. box. Some people recommend using inks that do not photocopy, but these days such silly actions are considered criminal evasion and possibly terrorism. Why go looking for trouble by trying to be cute?
  26. Do not use or rarely use credit cards. Paper trails. Better yet, by opting out of the standard debt obligations, credit reports dwindle to nothing.
  27. Do not participate in typical paper trail creating investments, such as 401Ks, IRAs, etc. Furthermore, the bureaucrats tightly regulate such efforts and retrieving 100% of such property often is difficult.
  28. Recall/rescind any voter registration.
  29. Whenever practical do not apply for building permits.
  30. Do not apply for business licenses or become an artificial creature of statism by incorporating.
  31. Never use employer-provided computers and email systems for personal uses.
  32. Do not send children to statist-sponsored schools. Records are public and children subject to massive amounts of brainwashing.

In less than one afternoon or evening you could be on your way to a more private lifestyle, and with minimal effort.

Many people refuse to forego checking and credit card services. Apparently, despite their complaints about privacy intrusions, convenience is more important than privacy or liberty. That is the reason why most privacy protection efforts fail — people want the benefits of the system without the risks. In other words, their efforts are half-hearted. You cannot straddle the fence. One foot in and you are in.

Finis.

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