Average Americans are becoming more and like the characters in a spy movie; they are being tracked all the time. Law enforcement agencies, local governments, intelligence agencies, phone companies, banks, Internet companies, and many others are trying to track us.
Big government tracks us to monitor our movements while big business tracks us in efforts to figure out how to make money from us. Search engine companies like Google make a fortune selling our Internet history to others. Even advertising agencies are trying to track us in efforts to monitor and control our behavior.
They track us in many ways via our cellphones, GPS units in our cars, smartphones, online searches, and even the license plate numbers of our cars. Unfortunately, many of the gadgets and innovations that make modern life so convenient and fun make it easy for Big Brother and others to track your movements.
Think like a Spy
It is impossible to avoid all tracking, but you can make it harder to track you by thinking like a spy. In other words, you should leave no trail as you go about your daily movements. Whenever you engage in any activity, ask yourself if you’re leaving any sort of paper or electronic trail that can be followed or detected. Then ask if you can avoid leaving such a trail.
Some means of not leaving a trail include:
- Always pay cash at retail stores, restaurants, and gas stations. Never use a check, a debit card, or a credit card. These create electronic payments for which there are records that can be tracked.
- Don’t use the loyalty cards given out by supermarkets, gas stations, fast food joints, etc. These are a means of tracking your movements and purchases.
- Limit your driving, particularly in urban areas, because surveillance cameras and police track your movements via your vehicle’s license plate. Try walking or riding a bicycle as much as possible instead.
- When you drive, avoid toll roads, toll bridges, and HOV lanes; these have cameras that monitor all traffic. When you pay extra to drive on toll roads, you are letting them track you.
- When you drive, try to avoid major highways and freeways because they’re more likely to have surveillance cameras that track all vehicles.
- If you take public transit, don’t use one of the new card payment systems. Your movements can be tracked by the card. Pay for the bus or the train the old fashioned way by buying a ticket from the machine.
- Be careful where you park. Avoid parking garages and lots that have surveillance cameras, and never use a credit or debit card to pay for parking. Use cash instead.
- Consider not carrying a cell phone or smartphone. They contain GPS units that are fairly easy to track. If you want to carry one, keep it turned off except when you’re using it.
- Try logging onto the Internet and searching through computers at places like public libraries. That way the searches cannot be traced back to your home or your computer.
- Be careful what you check out at the public library; you can be tracked through your library card.
- Stop going to Sam’s Club and Costco because those stores track you every time you use your membership. Cancel your membership. If you want to take advantage of the discounts, go with somebody else who has a membership and let him or her make the purchases.
- Vary your routine every day by driving or walking different routes, shopping at different stores, and eating lunch in a different location. If you set a pattern, you’ll be easier to track.
- Consider disconnecting yourself from the grid and generating your own electricity.
- Stop using GPS and use maps instead.
- There are some online tools that can reduce your profile and your possibility of being tracked. Search engine DuckDuckGo does not share users’ searches with anybody and doesn’t share personal information. It can still be tracked by the NSA, but at least companies are not tracking you.
- If you really want to think like a spy, a service called MaskMe lets you set up a secret identity. It sets up logins, credit card numbers, and phone numbers that act as proxies for yours. It isn’t perfect, but it lets you use the Internet anonymously. Note: MaskMe, like anything else, can be hacked.
- Try getting your mail someplace besides your home, such as a post office box or a postal mail box. That way you won’t be tracked to your residence through purchases. The problem with this is that some companies such as credit card companies and banks will not do business with you unless you have a physical address. I’ve had a hard time setting up bank accounts and getting new credit cards since I moved to a rural area with no mail delivery.
- Switch to an online bank such as Bank of Internet. Your financial transactions will be tracked online, but there will be no paper trail at your local branch bank. Bank of Internet pays ATM fees at other banks for those who want to operate on a cash basis.
- Instead of having regular phone service, buy prepaid cell phones from stores and switch them occasionally. These are the burners that the crooks are always using on those TV cop shows. Have a different phone every month or so.
- If you work outside the home, try getting deliveries made to your workplace instead of your home. That will make it harder to track you.
- Try to avoid shopping online. Online transactions are very easy to track. If you have to buy something online, make the purchase from somebody else’s computer. To pay for the transaction, buy a gift card for cash from a store. It works like a credit card, but it is not associated with your name or bank account.
- Never fill out the warranty information or get a warranty when you buy items such as electronics because the information you send in allows the manufacturer to track you.
- If you take a long trip, drive if you can because you can be tracked when you purchase an airline, bus, or train ticket. When you do drive, try to avoid interstates and major highways because vehicles on them are tracked. If you cannot drive, take a bus or train because security is less tight at train and bus stations.
- When you’re in the big city, take a cab and pay cash. You’ll be tracked if you rent a car because you have to leave information.
- Buy or rent DVDs instead of streaming video. Streaming videos can be tracked as can videos ordered from Netflix.
- Have somebody else that you trust, such as your attorney, handle those business transactions that can be tracked.
None of these strategies is foolproof; if somebody’s really determined and has a lot of resources, they can figure out a means of tracking you. Yet you should be able to avoid a lot of the tracking by keeping a low profile and avoiding certain activities.