Protect Your Right
“To Be Left Alone”
and Avoid Falling Into
a Stealth Information-Gathering
We’ve assembled a quick list of “7 Privacy Best Practices” you can use to protect your personal life and business from unscrupulous G-men, nosy neighbors, crooks, and shysters who file frivolous lawsuits.
We wish this briefing wasn’t necessary, but a new series of power grabs by the central government has made this communication to you quite essential.
Now wait a moment! You might be wondering, more snooping power is desired by Washington? Isn’t Osama Bin Laden dead and the War on Terror largely won?! Aren’t we doing an early troop withdrawal from Afghanistan?!
Give Power Hungry Bureaucrats an Inch,
and They Take a Mile…
Even though you live life on the straight and narrow, the potential for abuse exists. Simply having a casual social connection (golf buddy, tennis partner, fellow social club member) with someone the FBI dubs a “person of interest” could be enough to draw you into the investigative cross-hairs, putting your personal life under the microscope. With their new investigative powers, the FBI can run roughshod over your personal life to find “something” against you and coerce you to become an informant against a neighbor, colleague, friend, or maybe even your own family.
So it makes practical sense not only to take some precautions against the potential of law enforcement abuse, but also frivolous lawsuit professionals, crooks, and others who may wish you ill.
7 Privacy “Best Practices” for Your Family or Business
Purchase a crosscut paper shredder: Shred important documents. If you’re not sure… shred it too. Mortgage, banking, dentist, doctor, school, addresses, account numbers, phone numbers, insurance… everything.
Secure your wireless router and keep your web/email use private: Set a security code to connect to your wireless network. The default setting for most wireless routers is “public,” which means anyone can link up to your Internet connection and use it as they please or possibly watch and record what you do online. Also, you can reduce your online profile by cleaning out needless “cookies.”
Consider a VPN: A Virtual Private Network service allows you to encrypt your email communication as well as keep your Internet browsing private – even from your ISP.
Buy a hard-metal and lockable mailbox: This makes it harder for crooks and nosy neighbors to reach in and take your personal and financial mail. Also, don’t let mail sit in the mailbox longer than it needs too. Pick it up immediately.
Use a ghost address: Avoid having mail sent to your physical address, where you and your family actually live. This can keep you safe from physical harm or from having uninvited company show up at your front door. Send mail to your office, a PO Box, or private mail accepting service, or an alternate address where you don’t physically live.
Talk on prepaid cell phones and prepaid calling cards: Keep your voice conversations private and avoid the nuisance of phone records. In 2007, the Inspector General found the FBI had improperly used “national security letters” to obtain people’s phone bills. An additional bonus to using these privacy tools is you don’t need to divulge your banking information or credit history to own a cell phone. Just buy it, add minutes to it, and talk.
Pay with cash or a prepaid Visa, MasterCard, or American Express GIFT card: As discussed in last weekend’s Executive Bulletin, buying these gift cards doesn’t require any personal or private information. Plus, you can use them anywhere Visa, MasterCard, or American Express are accepted. Keep your purchases and transactions private. Avoid the danger of exposing your credit card, debit card, or banking information with a long trail of receipts and statements.
Use the seven steps above to protect your privacy and defend yourself from the threats that whittle away at your right “to be left alone.” And keep an eye out for further updates from us on this vital issue.