Monday, April 25, 2011

Can a cop search your travel trailer without cause?


This question came up on my Q&C page, from a reader named Rick:

“When traveling north out of border towns like Laredo, Tx...you will find stops on all of the highways. These are border patrol stops...but not on the border.

“They always ask me if I am a US citizen and what I am doing. Some folks get irate and ask if they are under arrest. I saw video of them on Youtube.

“I always answer yes and explain that I am on vacation. Until today, I have never had any problems with these stops...even though I pull my [travel] trailer behind my motorhome.

“Today I was stopped. The dog sniffed my RV and trailer and the officer asked me if I was a citizen and what I was doing. I answered yes and that I was on vacation to escape the northern winter and I was slowly heading back north.

“The guy with the dog then asked me if I minded if I opened the back door [of the trailer] and let the dog stick his face in and give a sniff. I answered that I did mind. I said that, after all, this is my home. They said, ‘OK’ and motioned for me to move on."

I posted Rick’s experience on the Q&C page and asked for readers’ comments. This was the answer that came back (underlining has been added by me):

“As a person in the field of law enforcement, Rick, I think you did an outstanding job!

“The threshold for a search is greatly increased when the item to be searched is a person's ‘castle’ or home. Some people may argue that the home was still on wheels...but I guarantee you will make any ‘agent of the state’ think twice if you say, ‘This is my home.’

“If said politely and without giving any reasonable suspicion...I think you used the magic words to put an end to any unreasonable search. Nobody wants to be involved in an illegal search of a person's home without probable cause or exigent circumstances. Violating a person's 4th amendment rights can get a cop sued VERY quickly. That's my 2c.”

For more information about what to do when a cop pulls you over, see pages 74 and 75 of my e-Book “Invisible Money.”

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How to keep Apple from tracking you via your iPhone or iPad


The moment the news about Apple's tracking systems hit the newspapers and TV, I asked the experts in a Southern California PI school to find a way--if possible--to turn off the tracking.

After a three-day effort I received a report on all the ways that some have TRIED to block the tracking. I will spare you all their references to research and jump to the last two paragraphs of the report:

"Smart-phones can be 'synced' with home computers or laptops. The location information will be transferred to the computer. Therefore anyone who hacks the computer can get the information that was once stored in the Iphone (or Android, or other Smart-phone in general).

"Our opinion is that Smartphones in general are the problem and people should follow your lead and stick to the 'dumb phones'. The only solution is to avoid ALL Wi-Fi enabled APPLE products because Ipads are no better. Anything they put out there to facilitate communication WILL record time-stamped Long/Lat info and be available to those inclined to retrieve it."

Conclusion:


The only way to keep Apple from tracking you via your iPhones or iPads is to get rid of them. Scrub your computer's hard drive as well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Yorker reveals his outstanding privacy secret!


Here’s the background on this true experience:

In most states, registering a vehicle in the name of a New Mexico LLC does not present a problem. However, New York state is an exception. The authorities have become so adamant in their demands that Rosie Enriquez has lately been discouraging orders from anyone in that state, assuming that the use of an LLC at New York state’s DMV is almost impossible.

However, I’ve just received a report to the contrary from Jason, a young New Yorker who is an avid fan of How to Be Invisible. Jason tells me he registered two vehicles in New York state in a single day! How was this possible? Here is his response:

“As soon as I received the documents for my New Mexico LLC I contacted State Farm and asked to have insurance switched over to my LLC. The lady I spoke with informed me that I would now need a business policy. I replied that the LLC does NOT do any business whatsoever and—due to a stalking incident—I was advised by my attorney to do this.

“She then said that would be acceptable. The policy would be put in the New Mexico LLC name with an endorsement for me as the driver. Since I already owned the two vehicles she sent me two insurance cards that said: my name dba as LLC name.

“The next thing to do was go to the New York state DMV website and download the following forms: MV-82 (vehicle registration/title application), and DTF-803 (claim for sales and use tax exemption). I will now explain how I filled out these forms starting with both titles:

“The buyer was my LLC with the ghost address you offer in Alaska. I scrawled an illegible name and signature. My title was ‘member,’ DTF-803; ‘new owner’ —LLC name and Alaska address; ‘previous owner’ —myself and previous ghost address.
‘Purchase price"-$0.00 (in NY state, since I already owned both vehicles there was no sales tax because I was transferring to my new LLC). Check box #15 (other exemption explain) I wrote ‘transferring ownership to my LLC.’

“Sign form as new owner (illegible signature) and date. MV-82: you will complete boxes: 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 as follows, box 1-register, box 2- DO NOT fill in client id number, name change: no, address change: no, DO NOT fill in corp or partnership, name of registrant: your LLC name, DO NOT fill in the following: date of birth, sex, day phone number, address where you live, county of residence.

“For the address where I receive mail, I used my Alaska ghost address. Box 4- fill in as asked, box 6- #1 check ‘has not’, #2 check "no", #3- check "no", box 7- print and sign an illegible name.

“After completing the forms, I made up some business cards with my LLC name, Alaska address, my name, and a 1-800 number that just rings in case something extra was needed.

“The next day I gathered all my paper-work and removed the plates from my vehicles ( if you are transferring ownership you MUST bring your old plates with you to turn in at DMV), and put everything in my briefcase. I then traveled to the DMV office, waited in line for a number and sat down until my number was called. I was dressed business casual, neat and groomed. As I waited I re-checked all my paper-work and tried to anticipate any questions that might be asked.

“Finally it was my turn. I approached the counter, smiling and making eye contact with the clerk. She asked what transaction I was performing so I told her and opened my briefcase and took out my paper-work and plates. She scrutinized the LLC paper work and asked why was I registering the vehicles here instead of Alaska ( she did not realize/care/understand this was a New Mexico LLC). I explained the cars would be in this state (NY) at least six months of the year.

“She then looked at the insurance cards and the MV-82 registration forms and said I would need to add the words ‘my name DBA’ so it would match the insurance cards. [IMPORTANT: In New York the registration has to match the insurance cards exactly. In this case, that could defeat the purpose of privacy—if my license plate were ‘run,’ my name along with my LLC might come-up.] I thought for a moment and said I did not want my name attached in any way to the vehicles. She replied that I would then need new insurance cards with LLC name ONLY.

“I asked if I could have the cards faxed to this office. She said yes and gave me the fax number and told me to come back in fifteen minutes. I then stepped outside, called my agent at State Farm, told her what I needed, and gave her the DMV office fax number. I then waited and went back inside.

“After a few more minutes the lady gestured to me to come back to her. She had now received the new insurance cards and we proceeded forward. She was nosy and asked what my business did, so I explained and took out a ‘sample’ from my briefcase. She liked it, so I told her to keep it as my thanks for her help, and she did! (State workers are NOT allowed to accept any gifts or gratuities …)

“The transaction proceeded forward with no more questions. I paid the fees and was handed new license plates and registrations. I did have to show my drivers license but she only looked at it and did not write anything on any forms or input into her computer (I watched her very carefully). Also, I only gave PO Box address in Alaska and was not asked for a street address nor did I give a SS/EIN number.

“I paid all fees in cash. State Farm would not put my Alaska address on the insurance cards so I had them use my local P.O. box. I have since deleted the address on my cards. New York allows you to have different addresses on licenses, insurance cards, and registrations. Although its not preferred, there is no law against it so … my NY drivers license and registrations have Alaska address and my insurance cards have a local PO Box ghost address.”

Jason’s experience was some time back, so I asked him if he had titled any more vehicles lately. His answer:

“Yes, just this month I titled and registered another vehicle. I’d purchased it from an out of state auto dealer and had it shipped to a local shopping center. The process at DMV was actually a little easier than last time because once you have a vehicle title to an LLC you just need to show a title or registration. There is NO LLC paper-work as long as all cars are titled in the same New Mexico LLC.

“I did have to pay sales tax, and I was asked for EIN but I said the this was a sole proprietorship and the IRS treats this as a disregarded entity. There was no further question. I paid all the fees and walked out with plates and registration.”

Jason’s privacy secret revealed:

“Before I embark on anything, I do my homework. I go to the source and gather/ask as much as possible. This puts me on solid ground. I have found I will usually know as much if not more than the individual I am dealing with!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Five myths about personal privacy

1. You cannot travel via commercial airlines without showing your driver’s license.

FALSE.
Use your passport. In fact, with the sole exceptions of renting a car or being pulled over in a traffic stop, you should never show your driver's license to anyone, because it shows your address and sometimes even your Social Security number.

2. If you decide to change your name, you must do so with a legal name change.

FALSE.
As long as fraud is not involved, you are free to use any name you like. Many actors use a stage name, and some writers use as many as half a dozen different names.

3. The most secure way to receive mail is by using a home mailbox that requires a key to open it.

FALSE.
Never receive any mail at home. Theft of mail can result in having your identity stolen. Further, why not keep your home address private, as do many European businessmen? Receive your mail at a P.O. box and package deliveries at some alternative address.

4. When you purchase a vehicle, list only an initial and then your last name.

FALSE.
DMVs sell this information to others—often including private investigators--and allow police access. Title your vehicles in the name of a New Mexico limited liability company. Use a faraway mailing address.

5. When you order a pizza to be delivered, use a name different than your own.

FALSE.
Never order pizza to be delivered to your home. Pizza places give out information to anyone who calls. For example, suppose a man wishing to do you harm has obtained your unlisted telephone number but does not know your address. He calls every pizza place in the city, ordering a pizza and giving out your telephone number. In answer, he hears: "Are you still at number so-and-so on Maple street?" Bingo! (He then calls back a few minutes later and cancels the order.)

NOTE TO READERS: Please forward this information on to your friends!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sneaky ways to use other people's business cards


First, a disclaimer: The suggestions herein are for entertainment purposes only. They must never be used as a substitute for common sense, or for any illegal or immoral purpose.

Where to find the business cards:

The first step is similar to the ancient recipe for rabbit stew: First, you must catch a rabbit. In this case, you must first catch some business cards. But not just any old business cards. You need the kind with foil, colors, raised printing and/or engraved. You can’t make this kind at home so look elsewhere.

One way to get these cards is just to show up at an office with some lame excuse and ask for a card from the butcher, baker, beggar, thief (aka IRS), doctor, lawyer, or tribal chief. Another way is to keep an eye out for community bulletin boards—the kind where entrepreneurs of all colors stick their cards under the edge of the frame. Grab a few.

Or, stop in for coffee and pie in one of those restaurants where you are urged to drop your business card into a bowl. Get out some card you wanted to be rid of anyway. When no one is watching, place your card in the bowl and palm a few of the cards that are already in there. (This gets better with practice, folks!)

How to use the business cards:

One way is to use them when you travel by bus, train or plane. You can be an artist, an author, or a company president for a day. Just don’t use a business card from some famous person—showing a card that says “Stephen Edwin King” won’t cut it.

Another way is when you wish to attend a conference or a seminar where you have not been invited. Perhaps you wait until the audience breaks for coffee and snacks, and then you drift back into the conference hall when the others do. In this instance you may prefer NOT to chat with others but if someone questions you, have a proper business card ready. Assuming that I were to sneak into a conference where I was not welcome, I would have a card handy that said “Consultant.” That can mean almost anything.

If any of you readers have ever used other people’s business cards for fun and games, why not leave a comment here about your experience?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Travel alert: To drivers near the Canadian or Mexican borders


One of my readers recently drove from California to Texas via I-8 to Casa Grande, I-10 to Van Horn, U.S. 90 to Laredo, and then U.S. 83 to McAllen.

“There are a total of 4 checkpoints,” he says, “on this route that are operated by the U.S. Border Patrol. These checkpoints have a series of perhaps 20-50 cameras/microphones that are strategically positioned right before and after checkpoints. My assumption is that someone quickly reviews the images to find something to warrant a secondary inspection. Also, they may be associating persons to vehicles etc.

“The route I took was close to the border and I would advise highly against routes like this one. I saw, at minimum, 100 border patrol vehicles in a 400 mile stretch. Some of these were patrolling 2-3 mile segments. It's basically almost like a war-zone nowadays.”

Canada:

“On a recent trip to Canada,” he adds, “I noticed that not only my own cell phone, but the cell phones of some fellow travelers changed within a mile or two of the border. The carrier was ATT and then changed not to Rogers, but to some strange series of characters. I suspect that the border might be monitoring and re-routing communications . . .”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How a Seattle PI tracked down a target across seven states


I’ll call the PI “David,” his client “Natalie,” and the target “Max.” Natalie’s goal was to have Max served with a temporary restraining order. Max had the time and resources to move around the country and keep from being served. Natalie, however, had the cash reserves to put one of the Pacific Northwest’s finest operatives on his trail.

In David’s own words:

“Max muddied the waters by using several spelling variations on his name, different dates of birth, and different addresses in official records from the DMV to court documents, and nominees across the US to hide income and property.

“He runs an Internet business using several websites to sell Kubotans, canes, switchblade knives, and a few electronic items that border on illegality. (The websites are registered through a nominee in Mexico.) He also runs a forum in connection with the business.

We set up a fake account on the forum and my associates start tracking down someone calling herself LadyX who seemed to be a personal friend. She turned out to be living in a small city in Wyoming. Finally, Max himself posted a comment on his forum that he had some sad news —LadyX had been in a serious car accident and had been rushed to an Emergency Room. He protested that the unnamed hospital was refusing to give out information about her condition.

If Max was in that area, he would surely visit her. We hired a Wyoming PI firm (at great expense, I might add!) to run the plate of every vehicle with an out-of-state license plate in the parking lots of the two main hospitals there.

"Two days later they had a hit—a 2003 Camry with Oregon plates that were registered in Max’s own name! Before they could get a process server ready with the papers, Max came back to his car and pulled out. No one had prepared to follow him and he quickly disappeared in traffic. However, we arranged to have a process server on hand the following day when Max showed up again. He parked his Camry, locked the doors, and turned to find a temporary restraining order thrust into his hand.

“If Max had stayed off the forum and have titled his vehicle in a NM LLC instead of his own name, we would not have been able to catch him.”

Two questions for you readers:

1. If your personal vehicle is not yet titled in a New Mexico LLC, do you plan to do so?

2. If so, when? (If you choose to do so on or before April 15th, give Rosie Enriquez the code words “Santa Fe.” She will then alert me and I will e-mail you any one of my e-books free—even the $29.00 "Invisible Money.”