How to Disappear:
Erase your digital footprint, Leave false trails, Vanish without a trace
Frank M, Ahearn and Eileen C. Horan
Lyons Press, Guilford Connecticut
The authors set the tone for the book on the first page. Frank M, Ahearn and Eileen C. Horan give an example of how not to buy this book.
Do buy the book. But, if you are trying to disappear from someone don’t buy it with a credit card. Don’t use your frequent-shopper card either. Frank Ahearn is a Skip Tracer. By his definition:
Skip tracer. n: A person who tracks people down and uncovers private information for a living. Targets include jailbirds, deadbeats, subpoenaed witnesses, and just about anyone else who’s trying to hide.
I’m not trying to disappear. To me, this book feeds my growing fascination with all things having to do with sleuth novels. I was surprised to learn that someone doesn’t need to be a computer hacker to find your personal information.
Much of the book includes first-person accounts of how the authors went about finding their target. These are the parts I enjoyed the most because it felt like I was sitting at a bar listening to a great story. Skip tracers use pretexting, a form of social engineering, to get information from customer service agents at bookstores, public utilities, health clubs, tanning spas, and through social media.
Pretexting is done by presenting yourself as someone else either over the phone or in person. A good example of pretexting is calling a customer service agent posing as the owner of the account and subversively coaxing the person on the phone to divulge the targets contact information. Social Engineering is the new science of extracting information from people through conversation.