Going Off the Grid

People can disappear, for practical purposes, if they have no phone and if their current address is not known to creditors and relatives; major criminals remain free for years. More than a few people have borrowed as much money as possible and then simply moved elsewhere. The legal system is too overloaded to pursue debtors, and any search must be paid for by creditors. Part of the usual quick-and-cheap hunt for a debtor consists of computerized searches of various data bases for a phone number or address. The rest consists of calling relatives, who can be tricked into telling, and possible employers. People who want to disappear must change jobs, move, don’t tell anyone where they are going, and do without a phone. They should also close bank accounts, cut up credit cards, and pay for everything with cash, traveler’s checks (any name can be used), or money orders. More isolation is usually unnecessary but can include moving across a state line, using a wife’s maiden name for automobile records, using a made-up business name on magazine subscriptions and mail orders, and not insuring anything for the next 2-3 years. Avoid giving anyone in the new area a correct social security number or date-of-birth, cash salary checks in grocery stores, and use small local banks for other transactions. If a dead-end mailing address is required for some purpose, all cities and towns have furnished housing that can be rented by the week; it is used by construction workers and students.