So you’ve decided you want to drop off the map and leave Big Brother behind. It’s harder than ever in our always-connected world, but if you’re ready to plan your big vanishing act, here are a few tips to get you started.
Who hasn’t thought about how nice it would be to start fresh somewhere new, preferably with nicer weather and cheaper drinks? Whatever your reasons for wanting to disappear—maybe you just want to get The Man off your back—with enough diligence and planning you can vanish and start anew somewhere else.
How Not to Disappear
The cardinal sin in any serious disappearance is drama. You don’t successfully vanish by staging an elaborate disappearing act that ultimately involves a tri-state search, police dogs, and your home town believing that you were mauled by a bear and dragged off into the dark night.
Minimize Your Social Connections
People who hurriedly throw all their crap in a suitcase and run out the back door are the ones who fail at disappearing. Instead, one of your most important jobs, prior to your successful disappearance, is to slowly cut the fat from your social life. Stop using Facebook—ditch all social networks—maybe under the pretense that you’re spending too much time online (or any other pretense that people around you will accept besides “I’m going to torch my crappy life and move to Belize”).
Ditch the Plastic; Cash Is King
Get used to the idea of ditching the luxuries you had in your former life. Gone are the credit cards, the convenience cards and loyalty cards, even simple things like a video rental card. Pay cash for everything and don’t use anything that could link your new life and your plans to your old life. Don’t check out books about Chile from your local library or buy them with a credit card. Don’t use a credit card or frequent flier miles to book a flight out of the country. Your goal in everything you do is to minimize the number of connections between your old life and your new life.
Lie, Lie, and Lie Some More
Ahearn goes into intense detail on the topic of disinformation and its importance in disappearing. He notes that the thing skip tracers hope for most is just enough information—too little and they’ll never find their prey, too much and they’ll waste all their time and funding looking in the wrong places. Your goal is to create disinformation.
Incorporation, The Binding Glue
At this point you might be nodding your head, thinking that the plan sounds great so far, save for the one glaring detail. If you can’t use anything but cash how on earth are you going to establish a new identity in your new location? Since you don’t want to lead the life of an illegal alien in your new locale, you’re going to need some way to have a legal presence that isn’t intimately tied back to your old identity.
Lastly: Don’t Bother If You’re Not Committed
Disappearing is not easy. You don’t just fake your own death, buy some false papers in an alley from a guy with an indiscernible accent, and then retire to a life of leisure on a small island nation. Disappearing, and doing so legally and without incurring a bigger headache than the one you’re running away from, takes careful planning.