Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Form DS-5513 — Yet another reason to order your passport TODAY

I am aware than some of you readers—despite my pleas over the years—still do not have a passport. Perhaps you figure that, if you ever decide to cross a border, you can order your passport at that time.

But if your passport application is refused, what then?

When I first heard about a proposed new application names the DS-5513, to be used in some but not all cases, it was so shocking that I suspected it to be a hoax. It requires, for example:

• Mother’s residence- 1-year before your birth, time of birth and 1-year after your birth. Complete address required.

Name of Mother’s Pre-natal doctor and dates of appointments.

Documents your mother used, if any, to enter the country before your birth?

• Describe the circumstances of your birth (as well as names, address and phone number, if available) of those in attendance at your birth.

Several months have since passed. It turned out not to be a hoax. I cannot imagine that this requirement will ever go into effect, but then I once assumed the Consitution protected us all. That was prior to the Patriot Act.

For all you folks who do not yet have a passport:

Google “Form DS 5513.”
Read about DS 5513 yourself.

Then order your passport.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paranoid or not, HIDE YOUR HOME ADDRESS!

From time to time someone suggests I am in a shady business, helping people hide personal information. Just yesterday I was told, "If someone is not doing anything illegal, then there';s no reason to hide the home address."

I couldn't furnish a better answer than the unsolicited email (below) that arrived the next day. I get similar emails on a regular basis, which molre than compensates for a few snarky comments directed my way!

Dear Mr. Luna,

I want to again thank you for writing and promoting a lifestyle of privacy. I read your book, How to Be Invisble, a few years ago when it first came out on the market. It is in very well used condition, as I have read it over and over again many times since.

I implemented your suggestions and mind set at that time. Since then, I have been named in two law suits, one for over a million dollars because I won a Labor Commisioner Claim for unpaid wages and my previous employer was retaliating. Both cases hired well seasoned private investigators and to this day, they have yet to learn of my physical address and other information they sought in their investigation. Even just yesterday, the lawyer in the million dollar case attempted to get me to disclose my physical address, and I was thinking, .... I don't think so.

In the other case, it was regarding custody, and my ex was stalking me to find out where I lived. Even being threatened in court by him to disclose my physical address or not see my children, he has not learned it. I have a good friend of mine who allows me to use his bike shop address as a physical address, if I ever need one. Other than that, I took your advice years ago, and only use a PO Box. I even recently pulled up my credit report, and it was as if I fell off the earth. My life on my credit report ended in 2005 when I began using your suggestions.

I really enjoy being free in my life from hurtful people like these. I have since found a very good man as my significant other, but it was almost a year before I trusted him enough to even disclose my real first and last name. Because of your writings, I am much more careful about who I let into my inner circle of privacy, .... even my own children.

Most cordially,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why must you set aside emergency cash?

By “emergency cash” I mean at least $2,000. The first problem is that less than five percent of U.S. families have at least $2,000 cash on hand in the first place. In fact, half of the families could not even come up with the cash within 30 days. So says the Dayton Daily News:

In a pinch, half of U.S. families can’t find $2,000

[Dayton, OH, June 11, 2011] Half of American families — including a growing portion of the country’s middle-class — would not be able to cope with an unexpected expense that required them to come up with $2,000 within 30 days according to a study that illustrates both the fragile nature of family finances and the depth of the nation’s financial crisis …

Actually, even those who say they can come up with $2,000 in 30 days are assuming the banks will be open. They will not be open in a flood, an earthquake, or an attack on the banking system.

Further, what if a problem comes up on a trip? Emergency cash will not help you if you’ve left it at home. Here’s a classic example—a few details have been changed but the facts are true:

Our good friends Jim and Grace Weston, both in their 70s, left Wells, Nevada in their 1999 Range Rover last March 20th. They were en route to attend their son-in-law’s funeral in Las Vegas. Early that evening, the transmission started making odd sounds. They barely made it to a gas station in a small town when the transmission gave up.

“We called AAA,” said Jim, “and a tow truck driver showed up, but he was shorthanded and therefore unable to tow us back home, or on to Las Vegas. I then tried to call a car rental agency in the next town. They were closed, so I tried the one taxi company there. They wanted $180 to come pick us up and then take us on to Las Vegas but said it had to be cash only, no credit card.”

Although Jim had two credit cards in his wallet, he had only $52 in cash. His wife had $33 and some small change—far from the $180 they needed. (In desperation, they contacted members of their religion who were willing to help, but how many travelers are able to do that?)

Back to the subject of keeping some emergency cash. If you haven’t got it, get it. (I tell you how to obtain it in my e-book “How to Survive.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Can you be served legally binding foreclosure documents via Facebook?

In Australia, yes. Will this soon be coming to a city near you?

“. . .at least one couple has been served legally binding foreclosure documents via Facebook. A Canberra couple defaulted on a ‘six-figure loan’ and was untraceable via physical address or email.

"The lawyer for the lender was able to locate them on Facebook, however, and verify their identities through matching names, dates of birth and the fact that they listed each other as friends."

This is from

Sunday, June 5, 2011

If the government is after you, then there’s no place to hide

This classic example comes from the back in the Cold War days, when the Stasi ruled East Germany with an iron fist. The president, Walter Ulbricht, received a picture of himself in the mail. It was clipped from East Germany’s major communist newspaper. Written across Ulbricht’s picture were the words “BIG FAT PIG.”

From then on, almost every time his picture appeared in the newspaper, Ulbricht received a copy of the picture with the same words, “BIG FAT PIG.” The only clue to the location of the sender was that the letters were all postmarked from Dresden.

Ulbricht ordered the Stasi to track the culprit down. But think for a minute. How could the Stasi track down a man who just mailed newspaper clippings from various locations in a large city? To the sender, it seemed impossible but the Stasi went to work.

1. An article was planted on the front page of the party’s newspaper with Ulbricht’s picture featured prominently.

2. Then the entire shipment of newspapers destined for Dresden was trapped by printing a unique number, in invisible ink, on the reverse side of Ulbricht’s picture. Each number was then linked in a database to an individual recipient assigned to receive that specific paper.

3. When the next “BIG FAT PIG” clipping arrived, it was turned over to the Stasi.

4. When the secret ink was developed, the number was matched to the address of the local secretary of the communist party in Dresden—and one of Ulbricht’s political rivals.

So before you start mailing clippings of Obama to Washington, or of Bush to Texas, remember Ulbricht. If the government decides to get you, you will be found.

[The above account is from page 49 of The Spy’s Guide: Office Espionage, by Keith Melton and Craig Piligian— Quirk Books, 2003.]