Legal Thriller Author Analyzes Paper Trails Scams

by : Jack Payne

If 75% of women wear the wrong bra size, and 75% of men wear shirts with the wrong sleeve length, is it any wonder that so many people do not understand paper trails, do not understand their critical roles in con games? Fraud, shell games, scandal-revelation and creation, and rip-offs of every kind flower from this tell-tale debris.

And, alas, most importantly, it is essential to understand how all of this paper trail information is tied together by social security numbers. (For the intent to rob you blind, this information collecting method is, obviously, patently illegal. For the lawn mower manufacturer, in his search for demographics trying to sell you a new riding mower, however, society seems to feel this is O.K)

Spreading like wildfire, with the aid of an internet stage setting, what are paper trails anyhow? Let's be more specific.

Simply put, as they might affect you, they are every sort of record, kept anywhere, that link business transactions back to you. These can be any paper document such as a bill of sale, promissory note, receipt, application, resume filing, customs claim, insurance form, notarized statement, any legal form. These spell out into computer records.

It's largely society's propulsion into the computer / internet era of the 1990s that has brought about this current-day fleshing out of the "paper trail." It's now so efficient that the structural schematic of this thought-police invasion--this total assault on your privacy--should indeed frighten you. What next? you might ask. Will you be marked with a tracking device so the government always knows where you are?

In this day and age it's computers, computers, internet, internet. Far and wide. They are to blame. It's computer records that pull all these bits of paper information together, to the delight of con artists.

Examples: Credit card purchase? Computer. Bank deposit? Computer. House purchase? Computer. And, the list goes on and on. Endlessly.

Take a simple, one-time credit card purchase. This is stored in the bank's computer, as well as several way stations along the path back to your bank, in the network's computers. When you deposit cash into your checking account the information is stored in a computer. when you deposit cash into your savings account the information is stored in a computer. when you buy a house you get a triple-whammy, the transaction is stored in a computer, in paper form, and on microfilm at your county recorder's office. Every time you turn around and blink these days, it seems, something about you is recorded in a computer.

And, sad to say, the common link that pulls all of your business transactions together is your social security number. It is the commonly used identifier of the present day age. By using only your social security number the con man can put together a near-total list of your business transactions stretching back over the years.

So, stealing your ss number--it being the string-tying mechanism which pulls everything together-- then packaging it neatly and presenting your financial affairs to the world as the "whole you"--makes it easy for the con man. These data include such invasion-of-privacy issues as what assets you have, where you shop, what you buy, and what you owe on various credit accounts and loans. The skilled con artist knows precisely how to pull this string.

Unfortunately, too many people today regard this as only a mild irritation, like talking to robots on the phone while trying to make a warranty claim on a defective computer. Red flag! It's far more serious than that So, like it or not, the challenge is on you, to weave, dodge, confuse, and bewilder any scam artist who might be about to stalk you.

How do you do this? How do you fortify your defenses?

You must disrupt your paper trail. This can partially be done in several ways, or combination:

1. A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (seemingly), cash was used. Stash your credit and debit cards. Earmark them for occasional or emergency use only, and for the most part rediscover cash money, paper and coin. Go back to this simpler form of exchange wherever possible. We all feel nostalgia isn't what it used to be, but this step alone will go far toward masking your paper trail.

2. Set up a Trust. This is like turning the porch light on, with nobody home. It somewhat confuses the paper trail by disrupting the con man's view, due to the linkage between you and your Trust. Like the service station attendant washing your windshield with a soapy brush, this will partly obscure the vision of the con man trying to put together a financial profile on you.

3. Refuse to star in the con artist's psychodrama. Go offshore. Not physically. Just export some of your assets This is not considered socially acceptable. Not patriotic, either. But, it's not illegal, and it is most effective. If you make yourself invisible to the bureaucrats--and the scam artists--they will have no address with which to find you. (A page torn from a legal thriller?)

4. You ask, what if the Hokey Pokey is really what it's all about? Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bank records enjoy no privacy protection. That's right, none. They are considered property of the bank, You are not, however required to reveal your social security number when opening a non-interest bearing account, e.g. checking, debit, credit card. So, don't. You are only required to reveal your social security number to a bank when interest-bearing accounts are involved. This is because the bank must report to I.R.S., for tax purposes, on how much they paid you.

5. You can even out-con the con man. Follow the New Hampshire state motto: "Go away and leave us alone." Get yourself a post office box, then write, "Moved, left no forwarding address" on the face of every envelope that the postman tries to deliver to your home. That would certainly leave anyone trying to steal your identity hanging by a quickly-shrinking thread. This would be like giving a seeing-eye sled dog to a blind Eskimo..

These are just a few of the steps you can take to shore up your privacy. These steps will not totally obliterate the scam artist's view of your financial structure. But, it will hinder it to the point of nearly crippling him, leave him babbling to himself, wondering how to write zero in Roman numerals. Consultation with an expert attorney would undoubtedly reveal more avenues of privacy restoration.

If such preventive steps were universally adopted, it would be quite a blow to the scamsters. It would leave con men everywhere quaking in their Hummer SUVs and calling their analysts on their cell phones.