Disappearing completely requires a lot of planning and strategies. If someone tries to do it hastily, then it can have bad consequences. Different people have different reasons for vanishing.
Some do it to escape from a bad situation and some to escape after doing something bad. And I’m just here to tell you how to disappear completely and never be found.
So for this article, I have listed 10 of the most important things you need to do in order to vanish completely.
1. Ditch Your Smartphone
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A survey from 2018 shows that roughly 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. And the device may seem like a useful addition to your hypothetical escape plan with its Maps and reminders and step counting features.
But according to an investigator and former undercover agent, your phone is the first thing you need to ditch completely to get off the grid.
Most of these phones transmit a GPS signal you can compare it to having a tracking device on you. Voluntarily users will often have given apps permission to geolocate them without even realizing it.
But even with location services disabled, the government can track you. To ditch the phone completely you can leave it on a train or bus station. So someone might use the phone sending the police on a wild goose chase.
2. Escape from Anyone
In the book “how to disappear” privacy expert Frank Ahern outlines his hook line & sinker method of eluding anyone. Who may attempt to track you down in your new life. This was the case for one of her clients who hired him to help her escape an abusive husband.
The hook section sees the escapee intentionally, creating a paper trail for the person following them to find Ahern’s client. This meant traveling to a small town and applying for an apartment that required a credit check. Obviously, this was in the town where the client relocated to. But he counted on her ex checking her credit report.
Then came the line step which involved establishing a paper trail in this fake location in the apartment she viewed. Ahearn’s client applied for phone service installation. The forwarding phone number for this incomplete order would lead the ex to another fake location.
Sinker was an extra safety measure where the client opened a checking account. Which an associate of Ahern’s withdrew small amounts from whenever he traveled. This left a countrywide breadcrumb trail that has kept the clients safe to this day.
3. Choosing a Right Location
Choosing the right place to establish or new nomad existence is essential. If you expect people to be following you. The location needs to be the last place they would look.
So if you’re from a big city you’d assume the first port of call would be a small village. But according to Frank Ahern, this can lead a private investigator straight to you.
He explained that you feel too mismatched to the new locale you wind up as the village’s number one Google search the day you arrive.
He also suggests that if you find yourself in a new country altogether to steer clear of tourist traps. As this would be the first place a private investigator would look.
He also warned of what he called palm tree dreams. According to Ahearn, everyone who disappears wants to disappear to the beach and drink Pina Coladas.
He insists that this life is usually too expensive and will have hidden downsides like flooding and isolation from shops and hospitals.
Ahern suggested trying a new location for three months. But keeping a backup city in case it proves unsustainable.
4. New you (Changing Your Identity)
Just like in the everyday world when pursuing a new life of anonymity it’s a good rule of thumb not to break the law.
If you’re not believed to be a risk the police may not even be looking for you. And changing that is the best way to get found. Sometimes the situation that calls for someone to disappear is serious enough.
That extreme measures may need to be taken. If so and an entirely new identity is in order the aptly titled book how to disappear completely and never be found has you covered.
This method starts with the escapee scouring local newspapers from the time they were born. To find names of babies that died on the day of their birthday.
The admittedly morbid approach then instructs the reader to contact their state government to request said baby’s birth certificate.
A common process the people who’ve misplaced the documentation. And it’s surprisingly easy to get hold of new birth certificates.
Apparently in theory this allows the reader to get a social security card with their borrowed identity.
These two forms of ID now allow the holder to apply for bank accounts and driver’s licenses and embrace their new life without detection.
5. Keep Your Money Safe And Ready
Starting a new life doesn’t come cheap. So make sure you’ve saved up in advance. Especially seeing that employment is about to get a whole lot harder.
But savings alone won’t help you if you have no way of using them. According to Paul Vlissides, the technical director of the information security firm NCC group.
Warned that using credit cards that have been flagged by police will be monitored 24/7. He explains that information will be passed on to police the minute activity is registered to give them a precise location.
Instead, withdraw as much as you can in cash and make sure it’s stored somewhere secure. Where you can collect it when the time comes to make a move.
But doing this too hastily will ensure you fall at the first hurdle. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 requires banks to file a suspicious activity report without the knowledge of the customer in response to large transactions.
Typically the threshold is $2,000 so each withdrawal would need to be less than this. And spread out as much as possible to avoid undue suspicion.
6. Faking Your Own Death
You decided that the idea of disappearing without a trace seems very common in most people’s minds with the idea of faking one’s death. It’s probably the most over-represented method in the media.
But the majority of experts on the subject warn pretty strongly against it. That’s because unless you owe money or have outstanding legal obligations.
There’s no law against just disappearing. Technically speaking that’s also the case for what’s known as the pseudo side.
That being said if someone felt like there was no other option. Author Elizabeth Greenwood actually described playing dead in her book.
To do so she travels to the Philippines where insurance fraud is rife. And where she claims you can even go to a black market morgue to find a body to cremate in your place instead.
She simply paid $500 to obtain her own death certificate from a government mole as easy as that. And no need for bodies to be burnt.
7. Dodging Surveillance And Escaping To Another Place
According to the Discovery Channel’s “track me if you can.” There’s approximately one surveillance camera for every ten US citizen. As a result, the world leads to video surveillance information.
IPVM estimates that Americans are caught on camera over fifty times a day. But precautions can be taken to limit your exposure.
The most crucial window of time to stay off-camera is when you choose to leave once you reach a new destination. Anyone searching for you would have to have a rough idea of where you are before CCTV can lead them to you.
So it’s best to plan a route out of town with minimal cameras. And follow it at night wearing inconspicuous clothing when you hit your new destination it sounds obvious.
But try to reduce CCTV appearances as much as possible. The biggest chain stores and restaurants will be equipped with the most cameras so stay clear of those.
8. Erasing Your Search history
To disappear it can’t simply be a decision made on the flight. In fact security expert Anton Edwards recommends three months of preparation.
But an important aspect of this planning is not to do it on your personal computer. If you search for buses to your getaway location of choice.
Chances are you’ve already given yourself up if you’ve already done this. Frank Ahern claims that any locations you’ve already researched are burned by the cyber breadcrumb trail leading to them.
So do the same research on a few other locations to cover your tracks from any predator or law enforcement official that gets hold of your IP searches.
And start overhead somewhere like an internet cafe for your research. Then when you’re ready to leave promptly wipe your entire existence from the face of the world wide web.
The website just deleteme can help you erase your cyber footprints. And cyber experts like Anton Edwards go as far as to suggest destroying your computer’s hard drive.
To do this Edward outlines the slightly excessive method of boiling the drive, then smash it with a hammer, then running an electromagnet across it. Plus that way you can bend some frustration at the same time.
9. Changing Your Identity
It’s important to realize that for anyone choosing to escape their current life. It’s not as simple as a change of scenery.
Trying to simply pick up your old life in a new postcode is the best way to get found. And if you’re running from someone you’ll need to find some new hobbies.
In fact, Anton Edward prescribes a complete change of any identifiable aspects of your day-to-day life. This even includes details as small as your dietary preferences and as large as your career.
You can’t be Joe the bus driver in Manchester and disappear to London and be a bus driver. Instead, you have to avoid chains and start taking cash in hand jobs.
But if you’ve got a private investigator on your tail you can be recognized by your clothes, hair, and even the way you walk.
So if you’re really trying to blend in you’ll need to change your get-up cut or even dye your hair and adopt an entirely new fashion style.
10. Run Alone
The lonely road above all the technical challenges is the most difficult thing. Facing potential vagabonds is the people they leave behind.
Trying to contact loved ones is the leading factor. It may seem smarter to just take them with you but while two heads are often better than one.
All the experts are warned against traveling companions that dramatically increase your odds of discovery. This is especially important if you’re running to escape a crime you’ve committed or as a means to collect insurance or avoid debts.
Asking someone to come with you automatically makes them an accomplice unless they turn you in. And simply gives police two targets to aim for. But most importantly if you’re a parent it’s key not to take your child with you.