Wendy - your question about the legality of removing your curbside mailbox can be circumvented in 5 min w/ simple tools.
Drill a 1/8" screw hole in each side of the mailbox door lip into the actual box. Then screw a self-tapping screw in each hole.
I've had no complaints from the USPS in 2+ years.
In my experience, public computers at public libraries have software that cleans out all caches, deletes all downloaded software, deletes all software installed at that session, and resets the registry to a preset condition at either shutdown or startup. This eliminates all viruses, Trojan Horses, and any possible keyloggers.
This system allows the user to download and install software without any worries on the part of the IT department of the library. Most of the libraries that use this system do require that you present identification or be a patron of the library. If you have any questions before using a library public computer, ask questions about it—the people at the reference desk are usually the best informed.
If you have concerns about the library keeping records of your surfing, use a proxy—Google will work—and use 128 bit encryption built into the browser.
I have similar software arrangements at Internet cafes.
I think that you can't be truely secure unless you built the machine from the ground up. It's mostly a matter of 'How paranoid are you?' A keylogger or other malware could be inserted at severl different point. One example would be the keystroke logger available at thinkgeeek, or MS Windows based keystroke/mouse(?) loggers. Personally I would be tempted to run a virtual machine like say Qemu with a copy of Linux run therein (see link, but That's just me) You might also want to (unobtrusively) check for obvious privacy/security violations. Also try to use encrypted protocols and proxies whenever possible. (I think the only time almost anyone *ever* uses encryption is checking out from webstores and such)
URL #1: http://damnsmalllinux.org/
James, , Age: 31
What Charles and JJL didn't mention is that (at least some) US businesses have this thing called ANI (see link) That automagically identifies the remote caller. I presume that if Charles knew that (the phone company probably wouldn't tell you unless you were subscribing), he would have used a pay phone. Otherwise it would be relatively simple to pull up a list of customers and check.
URL #1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Number_Identification
James, , Age: 31
What I do is put this program called CCleaner (available for free from www.ccleaner.com) on a thumbdrive. When you're finished using the internet, plug the drive into the computer and run the ccleaner. This program erases internet cache, temp, and other stuff (even index.dat files). By the way the C stands for crap. :)
Daniel, , Age: 35
Is there any way to insure that something like a keylogger or other spyware software designed to steal your information has not been installed on a public computer (library, i-cafe, etc)? Is there any way to scan for these types of things on a public computer before you access your email, etc?
Linda, , Age: 35
This is in regard to IE and cookies etc. What I do, even at home on my laptop is use Portable versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, Keepass and anything else I can think of. The Applications are identical to the versions you run on your computer, but you can take them anywhere with you. Just put them on a Jump Drive and plug it into the USB port and you are good to go. You can leave anything or nothing on under privacy, security and no one will know. The Applications are free and they are continually being upgraded. There are many other applications you can choose or not and if your computer crashes all your bookmarks, and email will not be lost.
If you must use IE, invest in a Window Washer - Evidence Eliminator is the best, before using READ THE HELP section on setting up. Your computer will hang if you don't. Mine did all the time till I did what they said. If not EE, then Webroot Window Washer combined with CClean(free) will do the trick. Go and enjoy the World of the Web.
URL #1: http://portableapps.com/
Hugh, , Age: 53
My philosophy has always been that information and being informed gives you power to deal with delicate situations. My profession has been in energy savings and conservation related to residential construction. One little know fact that got my attention was that Federal Energy Saving recognized methods and practices override any ruling or law of HOA’s.
The favorites of mine that you can install in your home without challenge by any HOA is the common “clothesline”, a white insulated spray on coating to your roof that reflects heat and insulates your attic to reduce your cooling load or a windmill type turbine to generate electric power for use in your home. The prevailing winds in your area may dictate that your clothesline or windmill would require a location in your side yard next to your driveway in order to work more efficiently so that the home would not block or interfere with the wind flow. Mention that you are considering any of these in passing to the official from the HOA that is giving you grief. I would think the protection of this information and having it not become widespread would be paramount in their minds.
Charlie, , Age: 63
Generally, to clear your tracks on Internet Explorer, right click on the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop, scroll down to Properties and left click. Under the General Tab in the Browsing History section, click on the Delete button. Another screen will pop up. Go to the bottom of the screen where it says “Delete All”. Another smaller screen will pop up. Check the box that says “also delete files and setting stored by add-ons”. Then click Yes. Click OK on the bottom of the General Tab page again. All Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, History, Form Data and Passwords will then be deleted. On a public computer, you may have to be logged on as “Administrator” to have access to deleting the history. Hope this helps.
Charlie, , Age: 63
Let's say somebody is moving and has to temporarily rely on public computers such as a public library or internet cafe. How do they clean their files at the end of their session if using Internet Explorer please???
Tommy, , Age: 60
HOA's came into being to preserve property values by prohibiting behaviors that would bring them down - like your next door neighbor painting his house bright pink and never mowing his lawn, when everyone else has neutral colors and maintains their property - or parking his class A rv across the street from you and blocking your mountain view, and running his generator, etc.
Cities have historically allowed HOA's to become as powerful as the cities themselves, because cities like receiving the high property tax dollar amounts that come from high property values. Cities do not have to hire anyone to get this benefit, as HOA officials are volunteers. Why rock the boat?
The real problems HOA's have caused come from two things. First, only community residents can become HOA officials. A lot of them over the years have had no experience in leadership positions, so they have little to no experience making decisions that directly affect others. The new power of their position is exciting to them, so they become overzealous and regulate their community into the ridiculus.
Secondly, some HOA's have the power to lien and foreclose on a property for unpaid HOA fees. At the extreme, an unpaid $300 HOA fee on a $300,000 house can be foreclosed upon by an HOA official who is excited about his new power and wants to try it out/play with it. For this very reason, Arizona does not allow HOA's to lien "their" properties.
The bottom line is, LLC or not, an HOA regulating you is always less private than no HOA. You never know when a retired or otherwise bored official with nothing better to do will spend their time watching how you live, and want to make the occasional "adjustment". A lot of their meetings will remind you of high school. Go to one sometime, especially if you don't live in an HOA, and ask questions. It will likely be eye opening. I don't like HOA's. I don't even like subdivisions
Thanks, John and Larry. I just called my realtor and told him to cancel the appointment to see the house that has a mandatory HOA requirement and search for homes that have no HOA or voluntary HOA (since I understand that if a house is in a voluntary HOA subdivision, the owner can't be made to join the HOA at any later time).
I've gotten so private (in large part, because of HTBI) that I now guard my privacy jealously. I'm owned only by God. I have no intention of putting myself under a private governing body who can make my life hell and foreclose on my home if I cross the HOA in some minor way! Besides, the idea of the name of the owner of my house being made more public than it will be is troubling to me.
I didn't grow up in homes under HOA and I'm not living in one now! Thanks for your input.
Yes, the HOA is a mini government agency with rules and regulations. That does mean you are less private, because the name on your deed is listed in more places than it would be without the HOA. It is still the name of the LLC that is spread around, not your own. You borrowed the money to buy your house. The HOA got your name from the lender. If you paid for the house with your own money, you could have purchased the house in the name of a NM LLC. That name would be everywhere instead of your own. The HOA is not responsible for the builder lowering it's prices. That could have and probably would have happened in your neighborhood if the HOA was not there. The builder did that in response to what it probably sees as a weak real estate market. It needed more cash to keep itself going, so it offered an incentive to new buyers to bring in that cash. Yes, that brought your house value down. This market will eventually return to balance, then go up again. Real estate is a market with buyers and sellers - just like the stock, bond and futures markets. Most people are used to it moving much more slowly that it has in recent years. It is still a market. That means it moves up and down - more up over the long term than down. Buying a house means your are playing in the market. Your figure of $300,000 for HOA fees over 360 months does not make sense to me. That seems very high. That is a payment of just over $800 a month. If that is really true, you could have easily discovered it with a phone call to the HOA or a knock on a residents door before your purchase. One of the reasons mortgages are not good is they are very expensive. For example, if you borrow $100,000 at 10% interest for 30 years, you pay the bank $300,000 for the $100,000 you got from them. That's an expensive $100,000. I don't live in a HOA and I don't like them, because I don't like someone telling me what to do with my property.
Larry, , Age: 40
DO NOT buy or rent in a HOA governed community if you value your privacy and rights. Basically a HOA is a "mini government" that you willingly join as a condition to living in the community and thus must abide by all the rules and regulations, as well as fees and assessments, no matter if you agree with them or not. There are state laws specifically dealing with HOA's and their power's are quite broad sometimes when you read deep into the layers of fine print and documents filed with the city and state for the community it governs.
We made the mistake of purchasing a home in an new HOA community last year and regret it more and more every day as new issues arise and info is found out that was not told to buyers when purchasing. Due to the volumes of documents and layers of corporations set up to build, manage, and govern the community by the builder, you would literally have to make a full time job of sitting in the city records dept to look through thousands of pages of legalese, and this is assuming you even know all the documents to ask for.
People tout the value of HOA's in maintaining property values, etc which is all a bunch of bull! The new house we purchased last year is now worth about $50,000 less since the market took a dive and the builder dropped the prices significantly to try to keep selling units. We couldn't give our house away if we tried!
This was our first, AND LAST, try at living in a HOA community. My advice is avoid them like the plague, even if you don't care about your privacy. The fees, rules and restrictions alone are enough to not do it. I added up the current HOA monthly fees we pay and multiplied it by 360 months (30 yr loan). We would pay well over $300,000 in just HOA fees in this time, not including the regular mortgage payment, and this doesn't take into account the fees being increased over time as they will, as well as special assessments to pay for "emergency needs" for the community that will also pop up over this time. Basically we would pay well over a million dollars between the mortgage and HOA fees over 30 years for a house that is only worth a fraction of that. Just my 2 cents (thats all I have after paying all these fees :-).
John , , Age: 39
This article is a good object lesson as to why HTBI level privacy is critical and it makes the point I made in my post (#3901) on SARs, a rule under the Bank Secrecy Act banks must follow at its customers' expense or suffer serious penalties. Though these SARs rarely lead to the kind of targeted investigation that Spitzer has been subjected to, ANYONE, regardless of income level, can be caught up in the ever-expanding and malleable criminal regulatory web he finds suffocating him. But these bank reporting laws are only one tool that investigators can use if they target you. Just make angry some cop or other person with the means to make your life hell or fail to protect your privacy and get sued or arrested and you may find that out the hard way!
Criminal (and many civil) laws are frequently applied with little apparent legal basis. As Dershowitz says in this piece:
"Lavrenti Beria, the head of Joseph Stalin's KGB, once quipped to his boss, "show me the man and I will find the crime." The Soviet Union was notorious for having accordion-like criminal laws that could be adjusted to fit almost any dissident target. The U.S. is a far cry from the Soviet Union, but our laws are dangerously overbroad.
Now, I HATE these Patriot Act-inspired laws as much as anyone but they are a new reality I and NO ONE else should ignore. Be careful, too, being a civilly disobedient dissenter challenging every privacy violation in your visits to public places like banks and post offices where you're probably on camera. (Yes, that's the American way but keep the new American reality in mind, too. You might end up on You Tube! That's why I'm ALWAYS advocating calling a business before visiting them to see if they're going to do what you want rather than going into their place of business and ranting when they won't. That's no way to preserve your privacy and if you watch enough news, you know that!)
Spitzer and his pricey paramour are just the latest highly public examples of how ugly using these criminal regulations as a basis for investigations can get...and what can be used against you when someone is out to get you. It's best to apply every aspect of HTBI you can to your life because even federal agents can't find you if they can't SEE you!
JJ, The following link has some very good details on how the NSA is perceived in its role of domestic spying. My own personal take, especially after working there, is that the NSA is simply building the program and leveraging its hardware/software/technical capabilities to handle the data, while the various internal agencies; FBI, DHS, Treasury, etc leverage the processed data and build processes around the data to field leads. Use the link quickly, it will be gone from WSJ.com by tomorrow.
URL #1: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120511973377523845.html?mod=hps_us_whats_news
Michael, , Age: 36
JJL, I was thinking about removing the mailbox at my new house but I wondered if it was illegal or something, especially in communities with HOA that want everything to look alike. Most of those mailboxes are curbside which is an egregious violation of privacy to me. Do you or anyone know how I deal with this situation? Does living someplace with HOA potentially violate my privacy? I wouldn't know because I've never owned a home or lived in one where HOA was required.
Also, I noticed Dish Network now offers prepaid Satellite. Has anyone tried it? What do you think? Pros? Cons? Thanks.
As for rules with a Home Owner's Association (HOA), making rules is one thing. Enforcing them is quite another!
The data brokering business is bigger than I thought it was. What about removing the mailbox or locking it? Would that attract attention?
Larry, , Age: 40
Charles, here's how I protect my privacy at CMRAs and others can and should do the same.
When I set up CMRA accounts to receive utility bills and packages from internet orders, as well as packages my nominee sends me from other CMRA accounts where my name is used, not only don't I use my own name on the box or allow people to send me things in my true name to that CMRA, I make clear to the owner that NO ONE is to call in and be told the contents of my mailbox unless the CMRA employees KNOW it's me. Since I call to "prequalify" a CMRA for my business before I set up an account there (and ask to speak to the owner or manager when I call) and either don't identify myself or use a pseudonym when I call (and use my blocked phone number) so that if I don't go in they don't know who's called, by the time I go in, I've already explained I've had a stalker as well as business AND personal identity theft issues and, as such, have become fanatical about my privacy. I tell them I've had individuals pretext their way to information about me and the contents of my mailboxes at past CMRAs and I'm concerned about their employees protecting my privacy (and, I imply, my safety). If, after I tell a CMRA owner or manager that, they can't seem to be bothered with helping me protect myself or balk at the work required to do that, I say "thank you for your time" and find a business that will respect and protect my privacy. (Like I said, there's more than one CMRA but only one P.O.!)
If I decide to give the CMRA a shot, when I go in to open an account, which is shortly after I decide to use the service, I calmly recall to the CMRA owner or manager our phone conversation (I always find a way to make myself memorable without identifying myself so they remember the conversation) and discuss with them ways to determine it's actually me when I call to check my mail, like questions to ask, similar to those which a bank would use to ID a bank account. (I also let them know that I would NEVER authorize someone else to pick up my mail so they shouldn't either!) The privacy of my CMRA account is no less important, after all, than a bank account! (One way they'll ID me is the Vumber I use to call the CMRA because it would come up on their caller ID and they'd need to ask additional security questions, if they didn't know it was me for sure, in order to provide what's in my mailbox. I only give that local number to limited businesses, never distribute it so it's less likely to be spoofed.) I work only with those CMRA businesses that will help me set up "account security". I test them from time to time to see if they're doing what I ask. They usually pass.
Since, like HTBI says, if I feel I must use a CMRA, I typically use only Mom and Pop or small local franchise businesses where everyone knows each other, I'm likely to talk to the owner or manager when I call and they know their customers by voice and personality. That said, I usually don't have sensitive credit or bank related stuff sent to me locally that I wouldn't want linked to me here (except when I have nominee forward things). My true name isn't on any mail I receive at any CMRA except the one on my driver's license OR one I use for business purposes on the other side of the country to which no bank statements go. All of this is doable because I control the business relationship in a way I can't control the P.O. I can always walk away and discourage others from using the (small) business and most of these CMRA's operate on a margin and need all the business they can keep.
However, I am ever on the lookout for private ghost addresses in my area that suit my needs, don't attract too much attention, won't make me look too suspicious and from which I don't need to worry about theft. That can be as hard to find as a good nominee but the moment I do, I won't use CMRAs anyplace near where I'm physically located.
I agree with Charles and Jack wholeheartedly. I have a rare exception. I have shared a very little bit about the type of work I do which requires extreme privacy. I have asked them to specifically not answer any calls about me or my box without providing a code. I have built a friendly relationship with these folks and I buy them lunch every now and then as a thank you. They stay on top of it especially when a new employee is hired. They will not even address me by name if another person is in the facility.
BTW, The address they have on file is a previous CRMA, which that CRMA had another previous CRMA! The 3rd CRMA has an address of a cheap apartment I rented but never lived in except to get mail, etc. Go figure!
Robby, , Age: 35
I understand using a CMRA to receive packages. It lets you keep your home address out of the databases of the major couriers. If your utilities are in the name of an LLC, you can have those bills delivered to your home address and still maintain your privacy. The utilities must have the home address anyway, to provide service.
The very best ghost address is a place where no one is there to answer questions.
Larry, , Age: 40
Same goes for newspapers. Some newboys sell information on temporarly vacant homes to thieves!
CMRAs are convenient for accepting courier packages, but keep in mind they are "service oriented".
I have a box at a UPS Store and just today called them as follows.
ME: "Hi, this is Mr. XXXX. I have box 119. Do I have any packages?"
THEM: "Good afternoon Mr. XXXX. Let me check. [pause] No, no packages. You do have two letters. One from YYYY and the other from ZZZZ."
This is an employee I have never dealt with before and does not know my voice. My phone never sends out Caller ID. They had no way of knowing I really was Mr. XXXX.
As long as the name matches the box number, they'll fess up the contents over the phone! Plan accordingly.
Another CMRA advantage is that this private business is interested in maintaining YOUR business and, typically, the staff is willing to establish a pleasant relationship with you and treat you with more respect than you will likely get at the P.O.
If they trust you, they may be willing to allow you to have additional names on a mailbox without filling out a new PF1583, take more packages than usual if you're outfitting a new home or business and you explain that to them to avoid suspicion of illegal activity, etc. You will likely see the same (often smiling) faces when you walk into the business and it just feels more private because there's a layer or middleman between you and the post office, the CMRA.
The P.O. IS a government agency and, often, their employees frequently act accordingly. They don't seem to care if you do business with them or go elsewhere. You have to keep that in mind when you use a P.O. Box. You will find long lines, in larger cities, to get your packages, too, and, because the clerk that day may not know you, you'll need to present ID each time they're holding your special piece of mail or a package in the back.
But, before you GO to a CMRA and they SEE you, it's important to call around and make sure the CMRA your considering is complying with federal law in opening the accounts and isn't asking for more information than it needs, legally, to rent you a box. One I just called told me I need to provide the names of all of the officers of the LLC as well as the certificate of formation for the LLC in order to get a mailbox. When I challenged the clerk, he said that's what the postal regs say. I further challenged him, saying I have or have had several CMRAs in other states and they did not require that information. That may may be HIS requirement but not the P.O.'s. I told him that I've familiarized myself with the PF1583 and the process so I know what it should be. When he wouldn't back down, I said, "thank you", hung up and called another provider in the same city.
(Remember, one P.O. is the same as another whereas one CMRA can differ widely from another both in attitude and/or services.)
The second CMRA's application process was far more consistent with regulatory reality. They said I only needed to provide my passport, another ID required on the PF1583 list and the names of the LLCs under which I wanted to receive mail. Works for me! Clearly, they want my business! They cost more but my privacy and the lower "pain in the butt" factor is worth the extra money! I will calmly stroll into the CMRA, help the owner recall our phone conversation and open my new account giving as little information as possible (including a CMRA address as a previous address and a Vumber as a contact number!). I will then calmly pay the fee, smile, chat them up a bit more and leave with a new mailing address for the LLC's I intend to use to establish utility service for my new house and to receive packages not too big to be stored for a few hours at their location.
This is yet another CMRA advantage. I can pick up packages in relative privacy at an address not too near my home, drive my packed SUV into my garage, close its door and unload privately then to have delivery trucks showing up at my house and a CMRA is one way to avoid that since most happily accept multiple packages from any shipper that brings them.
Oregon DMV provides a license that is call "world traveler" for those folks who "snowbird" or otherwise. They accepted my PO Box as my address and put it on my license.
Bill, , Age: 52
... An applicant who travels continuously may use a descriptive address of "continuous traveler" if the applicant is a resident of or domiciled in Oregon but has no physical home in Oregon. For instance, an applicant who has retired from an Oregon employer may present papers indicating he/she sold a home in Oregon and purchased a motor home.
Applicants wanting to use a descriptive address as “continuous traveler” are required to provide a mailing address and prove that he or she is a resident of or domiciled in Oregon by completing a Certification of Oregon Residency or Domicile form and submitting acceptable proof. Acceptable proofs of residency and/or domicile are noted on the back of the form.
URL #1: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/driverid/idproofresadd.shtml
I've known about SARs and related reports for some time and have had to complete the "currency transaction report" on at least one occasion that I remember. Though I yearn for the days when you could do these kinds of transactions in privacy, I know now that is not true. This is serious business and SARs can happen to ANYONE for ANY reason without their knowledge and that's important. People interested in privacy need to pay careful attention because these rules apply to EVERYONE and many people are experiencing civil forfeitures because they are, in some cases, inadvertently, violating these laws. Readers should also be aware that the LLCs that they form should not be shell companies used to hide money because, increasingly, those are being discovered and investigated, especially with internet technology. I know. I used to discover them all of the time as an investigative fraud journalist!
Wendy, , Age: 44
It has been stated on here that CMRA's require you to fill out the same form that USPS uses when you first sign up for a box rental. I'm wondering, then, what the advantage of using a CMRA is, since your info is apparently going into the same database and the CMRAs cost much, much more than a PO Box rental at the USPS. Please advise. Thanks.
Steve, , Age: 43
To avoid SARs and other FinCEN (Federal Crimes Enforcement Network) reports I'm unaware of and don't have the legal right to know about, I ALWAYS call the bank contact at corporate headquarters for my businesses' bank and let her know why I'm doing ANYTHING that will have a total transaction amount over $3000 OR why I am opening multiple accounts for one tax ID. In fact, if I'm opening multiple accounts, I get her involved in the process and have HER call the bank branch which typically transacts our banking business When I buy my house, I'm going to do the same thing using LLC accounts I long ago had set up by my nominee for this very purpose. I'm going to call my corporate headquarters contact, tell her what we're doing (since my nominee will execute all documents as "Jane Roe and assigns" and then we'll title the home in the name of the LLC), the source of the funds (without giving ANY more information than I must), how much the transaction will be, how quickly it will all happen and how frequently the LLC account will be used afterward and for what purposes. I will have HER walk me through the reporting process for transactions over $10,000 (in fact, I'm calling her tomorrow to get some advance information on the process AS WELL AS talking to my bookkeeper who is HIGHLY knowledgeable about this kind of thing and who'll know the right CPA to ask if she doesn't know the right answer) and make certain I'm not going to be Eliott Spitzer or someone else under fire for potential "structuring of transactions" AKA "money laundering". I will also involve an attorney knowledgeable about this kind of LLC/nominee homebuying transaction and they DO exist and WILL maintain my privacy as long as I meet those FinCEN reporting requirements...and I will.
The best way to avoid problems with the Feds is to make sure those who have the ability to say "no" to a transaction OR an SAR--key decisionmakers at the bank--are involved in these kinds of transactions from the start. Because I've established this kind of relationship with my bank over the last year, they now (1) respect my privacy and don't press me on where I'm actually located because they see my nominee nearly every day and (2) pretty much let me do whatever I want because they know I DON'T want to do anything illegal and will COMPLY with federal reporting laws on the books. I make myself above reproach as much as possible AND keep them in the loop. In fact, my corporate headquarters contact is one of the only people at that bank who is authorized to contact me directly. Everyone else gets voicemail numbers and my nominee/treasurer calls back.
Therefore, I'm less likely to raise suspicion because I'm transparent where the law requires and maintain my privacy otherwise. It works really well so far AND NONE of those transactions have my SSN associated...or, for that matter, my legal address and NOTHING is EVER sent to that address from the bank in my name or that of any business with which I'm associated. (My bank also knows what the businesses are and what they do; that way, it doesn't look like I'm trying to hide something.)
Bottom line? Learn how to use HTBI and other privacy tactics within the parameters of the voluminous rules enacted by three letter agencies like the IRS (or six int the case of the Treasury Department's "FinCEN" who gets SARs and tipoffs from the IRS (which is controlled by Treasury), like the one that brought down Spitzer). As importantly, use and/or hire the appropriate professionals, like treasury management officials at banks and other upper level bank executives as well as bookkeepers, CPAs and attorneys, to keep you butt out of a sling because, TRUST ME, if you do transactions that could generate a SAR, you probably don't know what you're doing no matter what you think and you NEED HELP to get it right! That is, unless, you're really ARE attempting to violate the law but look how easy it is to make a dumb mistake and get caught. Blow it and blow your privacy...and, potentially, that of everyone associated with you. I'd hate to be Spitzer's poor kids and family right now BUT, don't get it twisted, get it straight. You can do something you think is perfectly legal and end up on the front page of the NYT AFTER the IRS or some other law enforcement agency has frozen your assets or even seized them until you prove the assets did nothing criminal or were not obtained illegally. It's happening to innocent Americans daily, as a Google search of "property seizure" and a look at the site below will show you so be careful out there!
URL #1: http://www.fincen.gov/
Some interesting insights on what may trigger such reports. Especially note the following:
"activities that might require banks to file a suspicious activities report with FinCEN are: opening an account at a neighborhood bank with an out-of-state or nonlocal address, having multiple accounts at a single branch, or making frequent deposits or withdrawals in a short period of time."
URL #1: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/financial-planning/article/follow-money-investigators-detect-suspicious-behavior_515683_26.html
Marc, , Age: 43
"If a customer is planning a big purchase, say a house or a car, the customer should tell the bank why such a large sum of money has been deposited or withdrawn. If the bank knows why such an irregular transaction has occurred, they are less likely to file a report."
Re: Your answer to #3882 "... I am not aware of any government agency which requires your true home address."
The Oregon DMV requires your actual home address: "Your residence address is the actual address where you physically reside. A mailing address may be used in addition to a residence address, but never in place of.
If you provide DMV with an address that is determined to be an address of a “mail service provider”, “False or fictitious” or an address known to be that of a “business”, you may be denied issuance or your privileges or card may be cancelled until you provide DMV with the address at which you physically reside."
Please post any suggestions for ghost addresses in Oregon.
URL #1: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/driverid/idproofresadd.shtml
Tom, , Age: 51
What is the penalty if you move, and do not tell them? Some persons might even rent another place, get the license using the new address, and then move back to the original address. (In this case, they should keep rental or utility receipts showing the address was correct at the time of applying for, or renewing, a license.)
To Linda #3878: Good for you--nice thinking on your feet. I'd like to offer a technique I've used to test a CMRA. Simply send in a friend to drop something off for you, and let them try to collect your address. Once, in a distant city where I didn't know anyone I could send, I paid a courier service to do this. Met him in an office building a mile from the CMRA, and send him to "test" the system. In that particular case, it was worth the $25 I spent. You can also use this to test the vulnerability of the person at your ghost address.
Paul, , Age: 53
Is it still the case that the USPS ONLY photographs the front (and not the back) of all first-class mail envelopes ?
Even with the new proposed system of tracking ? Somehow I don't think so ...
Thanks for any updates.
Mary, , Age: 49
I am confused. I got the impression from the 2004 edition of your book that using false SSNs in any context where they may come back to you was a BAD idea. I was under the impression that the SSNs listed in the book were NOT ones to use, for even the lowly postal employee will recognize them. I am only at a novice level of privacy but very concerned about making mistakes with something this serious.
Keith, , Age: 21
I'm trying to sort out the options and would appreciate any clarity one can offer me.
In preparation for a move, I've been shifting all our mail over to a PO box. I know NOT to put in a perm. forwarding order.
My concern is the stray credit card offers that still arrive after we've closed on our home.
Should I just put in a temporary forwarding order and hope that one day all the "opt outs" I've filled out will eventually staunch the flow?
Or should I start stamping mail "moved left no forwarding address" even though the mailman will see that we are obviously still here? (I've already updated our address with those who need to have it.)
Theresa, , Age: 43
Your mailman will not know you are sending junk mail back, so no problem, right?
New York Gov. and all around big mouth goodie-two-shoes, Eliot Spitzer was recently linked to a prostitution ring. This politician who never writes anything down he doesn't want in the NYT had a chink in his armor...
It seems incumbent on us all to follow the law if we want to keep our privacy. Also, don't blow your horn, outside of this web site, about how invisible you are. A smug attitude about any subject is just asking for attention.
Nona, , Age: 43
JJ, here is an interesting article about mortgage vendors just throwing away, selling, and pretty much not caring about selling the information of its customers after they file for bankruptcy.
On a personal level, I was asked to review the systems of a local office of a national mortgage lender which went out of business for a business associate in town. He actually bought the mortgage lenders lease, assets, file cabinets, etc.
When I walked through the site with him, I found applications with SSNs, addresses, and pretty much any other piece of information about its customers. I recommended to him that he insist that the bankrupt lender pay to have a shredding company show up onsite and remove all documents. Additionally, I requested that the lender take full liability for its actions associated with the data being left around. Who knows how many other people walked through the same area before we did.
URL #1: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23505497/
3-10-08 My dad alerted me to the following article in Popular Mechanics, April 08 issue. "Counterfeit chips raise big hacking, terror threats".
..."could allow identify theft ring to hack past the encryption used to connect customers to their banks." I think that is just the tip of the iceburg!
URL #1: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4253628.html
Mary, , Age: 44
To Keith 3882: Since your photo ID lists only your PO Box, you could probably give the CMRA any street address you wanted.
Linda, , Age: 35
I have decided that a CRMA is more than likely my best ghost address option, although I will post here before going through with acquiring a ghost address for a second opinion. My Post Office box, under which I have worked and where I receive all incoming mail, is listed on my driver's license, although they do have my physical address on file.
If signing up for a CRMA tomorrow, which I have never done before, am I likely to run into any issues with my home address? I do not give it out to anybody but a government agency and always redirect to my P.O. Box.
Keith, , Age: 21
It is easy and harmless to give a made up name and date of birth. Many people share the same name and many people share the same date of birth. How many babies are being born today across the country. NEVER make up a social security number. Each valid SS# belongs to one person only. If I made up a social security number the next time I filled out a form, the one I write down could be yours.
Larry, , Age: 40
When I first signed up with one of the CMRA's I use, for good or bad, I provided them with my actual home address. I'm not good at dissembling and did not want to call attention to myself by being nervous or cagey. (They also required a photo ID with a matching address). Though Mr. Luna points out in HTBI that CMRA's don't generally give out address info on their clients he also points out ways that it DOES happen, and so the fact that the CMRA staff had access to my actual home address made me very nervous.
I have "after hours" access to the mailbox, but I have made a point of occasionally checking my mail during regular business hours and stopping to have a friendly chat (nothing personal, however) with the guys who staff the business. After a few weeks, I managed to renew my driver license listing the CMRA address (I guess CA does not check this out). I also managed to set up a "ghost address" using the CMRA address as a reference/forwarding address. I have never used the "ghost address" for any mail and no one there has actually seen or met me.
A few weeks after that, during one of our friendly chats, I asked one of the CMRA guys if it would be OK if I re-filled out the paperwork because I was probably going to be leaving the area for a time and I wanted to make sure they had an updated address where I could always be reached. I also asked them to update the address in their system because I would probably require their mail forwarding service while I was away. My original application was returned to me (which I promptly secreted in my handbag!) along with a new application. I listed the "ghost address" as my permanent address, and my ID (which listed the CMRA address!) was re-copied. I made sure they changed my permanent address in their system while I waited. I shredded the original application when I got home. Thus, I think I've managed to re-create an endless loop with reference addresses that lead nowhere.
Just to see what would happen, yesterday I called in and asked them to verify that they had the correct forwarding address in their system because I'd want my mail forwarded soon. WITHOUT VERIFYING THAT I WAS REALLY THE BOXHOLDER, the CMRA guy checked in their system and read my "ghost address" off to me!! I was initially furious that they would give out the address so casually (the very situation Mr. Luna warns about in HTBI!), but before I reacted, I regrouped and remembered that this info would lead in a circle! Given the trouble I've gone to to create this endless loop "ruse", I'm planning on keeping the mailbox, but this experience underscores the necessity to always be vigilant about privacy!
linda, , Age: 35
Geoff, You do not need to give the doctor's office any ID if you are paying cash. It is only if you use insurance as the office will need to verify benefits. If they ask to see an ID, find another doctor. Give them any fictitious birthdate and other personal information you like. You may even want to use a different name.
Almost all doctor's offices ask for your SSN so if you do not pay your bill you will be sent to collections but if you are paying cash upfront this is not an issue.
When I visit another doctor/dentist and am paying cash, I leave most of the personal info blank and if pressed that I did not fill it out, I write some fictitious info. They will not waste time and energy checking this out as they do not have the means to do this. The offices' are already stretched thin and overwhelmed by dealing with insurance companies to bother checking out a cash paying patient.
I had patients from Europe and Canada who would pay cash and of course had no SSN.
Jack, I have my eyes and ears out for just the right nominee but, in the meantime, I've established LLCs I, in part, for the purpose of getting utilities and I'll negotiate large deposits and use pseudonyms for contacts on accounts. I'm using at least one utility company in this area that offers prepaid service so it shouldn't be a problem.
Jane, I, too, refuse to tell most of my family anything about my life (including about the home I'm buying) not only because I fear they will buckle under someone else's pressure and reveal details about my location, I think they'll run their mouths about what I have and where and how I live. Whether out of pride or envy, this might have a bad outcome for me. Therefore, they're on a "need to know" basis (even my parents) and those who know anything, even the pseudonym I use, are sworn to secrecy or else they will find themselves without ANY knowledge of how to contact me. Like you, I have voip phone numbers and an AT&T prepaid GoPhone (and phones I paid for using an LLC account) as well as CMRAs in three areas of the country. In fact, whenever I send one of my relatives anything by mail, I send it through my nominee or son (who "sort of" knows where his Mom is so isn't forced to lie, if asked) who remails it for me from there location from an address in the area where they live. So, if even if a gun was at their heads, they'd be unable to provide details on where I am. Unfortunately, their past behavior has made this necessary to protect my privacy and safety.
Similarly, my family and friends know I'm nutty about my privacy and will go ballistic if they reveal too much about me to people I don't know and/or don't want to know anything about me so they've learned not to make that mistake. I'm very nice...until you cross me. Moreover, I'm fanatical about THEIR privacy so they more easily respect mine. Since most people, including family members, don't "get it" about privacy, I think there are many of us who visit this site who will be forced to go to this extent to protect their privacy, even with their own families. Otherwise, employing other HTBI tactics is useless.
Some of the readers of this website might be interested in the news story from the San Francisco Chronicle, linked below.
URL #1: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/08/MNCHVG0SD.DTL
Linda, , Age: 35
Love your books.
I didnt see this question addressed in the Q&A:
I want to seek some medical treatment in the US without it going into my permanent medical records due to the insurance consequences. I am happy to pay cash. Can I just go to a clinic and tell them I lost my ID and give them a made up ssn? Any suggestions? Or do I have to go abroad?
Geoff, , Age: 55
I know that you advocate people saving money and working their way up to 10,000 in savings. For those that think they can't do it, here is an inspirational article:
Building a Life on $25 and a Gym Bag
URL #1: http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=4298321
Here's how you can go directly to the first post in the "Questions & Comments" section:
--after you get to the first QA page, click "Next Page" in the upper right corner of the display.
--when you get to the next page, notice two things: the page heading, which lists the current number of questions (the latest one says "Questions: 21 to 40 (of 2465)" and the URL in the address bar at the top of the browser (the latest one ends in "www.howtobeinvisible.com/index.cfm/fa/questions/startrow/21").
--click inside the address bar and backspace over the last number in the URL, the one after the last slash (in the example it would be "21").
--in its place, type in the "of" number from the header. In this case, that number is "2465", so the new URL would end in: "www.howtobeinvisible.com/index.cfm/fa/questions/startrow/2465".
--press Enter. The browser should jump to the earliest page of the QA section. (I think it's dated May 2006.)
I did this recently myself, because like you I wanted to work my way through and glean as much of this incredibly valuable information as possible.
Jay, , Age: 51
I am a physician, recently retired, and moved several states away. I purposely chose to not give my immediate family my new home address. They were given a VOIP number and an anonymous cell phone number. They have my ghost address and that is all they will ever have.
Many years ago I had registered a car and my driver's license from their home address. I was subsequently sued in a frivolous malpractice case. The sheriff showed up at my parents front door and they became totally intimidated and gave the sheriff the hospital name where I was a department director.
I was shocked that they would buckle. Therefore, be very careful when giving any relative your home address if you value you privacy. I have a very close confidant who is better than any blood relative when loyalty is involved.
Is there an easier way to get to the first post on this site other then clicking 123 times to get to it?
Jane, , Age: 50
Several years ago I closed an account at a bank. They asked me why I was closing out the account. I was dumbfounded, so, I told them the truth.(She actually wrote down what I said in long hand on some kind of form.)I was shocked.
Recently I wanted to close out the remaining account with same institution. This time my reason was different for wanting to close out the account. I didnt want to be put on the spot again.
I had my husband go in and close the account. They didnt ask him any questions.
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