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Privacy: Part 2

Privacy: Part 2

July 20, 2004
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" The fact is, you never know who it is you're giving your information to when you're signing up for an affiliate program or a 3rd party payment processor, or any of the dozens of other people we do business with.  "

In Part 1, we looked at using a fake name and obtaining an alternate business address as a means of protecting your privacy. In today's conclusion, we'll examine banking issues and more...

Banking With Your Alternate Identity
In the 21st Century, the new crime is "Identity Theft." Someone doesn't even need to visit you at home to steal your identity. All they need is a few key pieces of information, like your name, social security number, and date of birth. So let's concentrate on getting a name you can cash checks under and an alternative to the ever present Social Security Number. This may only apply in the USA, but I'm sure there are variants on this all over the world.

The fact is, you never know who it is you're giving your information to when you're signing up for an affiliate program or a 3rd party payment processor, or any of the dozens of other people we do business with. The last thing you want is some unscrupulous webmaster (or one of his employees) taking your name, address, date of birth, and social security number and using it to get a credit card and then charging things to it.

Set up a Doing Business As (DBA), otherwise called an Assumed Name Certificate. You can file it at your local county clerk's office, and if you have any questions, just call your local bank. Now go to the IRS and fill out Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN), otherwise called a Tax Identification Number (TIN). You can even do this online!

This will allow you to separate your tax information from your Social Security Number and to get a bank account in the name of your business so you can get and send checks. Checks are sent to your alternate address, naturally. Incidentally, this TIN will have a separate line of credit, and you can use it to purchase things like mobile phones if your own credit is bad, and you can set up a KOEGH retirement plan, that will let you put away much more than a traditional IRA for retirement.

Digital Security
Think about how many times you give out your information online. It's scary. If you have a domain name, can it lead back to your home address? Visit whois.sc and look it up, you'd be amazed how much information is out there. Maybe you have a non-adult domain that does have your real address on the same server - someone can find that information.

When you send an email, what name appears to the other person? Is it your real name? The most you'll get out of me is my real or fake name and a last initial. Incidentally, if you send your mail through Hotmail or Yahoo, it may attach your IP address to the email. If you don't think this is a big deal, drop by IP2Location.com and then tell me what you think. Send yourself an email and see what you can find.

One safe way to register a domain name is by using a company called DomainsByProxy.com (part of GoDaddy.com registrars). They'll register a domain name in their name, protecting your identity. You can still modify it however you wish via the GoDaddy control panel. This is a great added layer of protection from someone just looking for your address (though a government official could easily get it). Unfortunately, some TGP owners are banning submissions from domains registered this way, so it looks like you'll have to register using your alternate address and alternate name.

Do It!
There's no time like the present. Find out how you can get a DBA and a TIN (or your local equivalent if you're not in the USA) from your bank, county clerk's office, and the IRS website. Go out and get an alternate address as near to you as you're comfortable with and do it. The whole process shouldn't cost more than a couple hundred dollars or take more than a few days.

How Safe Is This?
This tutorial will in no way protect you if you decide to engage in illegal activity, it's meant to provide law abiding citizens with a little more protection. Anyone can be found if the person looking for you has enough resources. Just ask Frank Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can, which was turned in to a movie starring Leonardo diCaprio & Tom Hanks. As an international fugitive and check swindler, he eluded the FBI for years, and just when he thought he was safe – he was living off of his savings in a small provincial town in Southern France – the French police come knocking on his door. How did they find him? Someone he had been in contact with on another continent recognized him in the local market. The FBI had unlimited resources to find him and had talked to everyone he'd ever met. There was no place on earth he could hide.

Taking these basic steps, however, will make you more secure than 99% of the people on the planet, and will prevent 99% of the people looking for you from finding you.

Now, next time you have to give out any of your information, none of it will lead back to you, right? Your checks and other mail come – legitimately – to your business name at an address mailed far, far away from you. You use your TIN and business name instead of your real name and SSN, and you don't associate your business name with your real name...

Paul Erwachsener has been trying to make money in this business for 2-1/2 months now & wants to be both safe and successful. You can learn more about his efforts here. He knows a little about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things. Feel free to ask questions.


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