Here’s How Easy It Is for Predators to Get Personal Information That Could Put YOU at Risk

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Imagine this conversation with a stranger in line at the grocery store.

  • Stranger: Your daughter is so cute!
  • You: Thank you, her name is Jane. She’s 3 years old.
  • Stranger to Jane: Hi, Jane! Do you have any brothers and sisters?
  • You: She sure does. We’re on our way to John Smith Private Elementary School next to pick them up.
  • Stranger: Oh, my niece goes to John Smith. But it’s such a long drive for her parents, in the middle of that industrial area. They’re over in the Springside neighborhood.
  • You: We live closer – we’re just in Autumnside.  Well, nice talking to you! I have to run.

You go out to your car and unlock it with your key that has your bright blue health club membership card on the keychain. As you’re loading the groceries in, the stranger has purchased the individual item and walked past your vehicle, waving at Jane who is still sitting in the cart.

On the back of the car window is your stick figure family of a mom, 3 kids, and a cat. One stick figure child is on ice skates and the other has a soccer ball. You also have a sticker on your car for, let’s say, Beto O’Rourke or Kamala Harris.

What did they learn about you?

This seems like an innocuous encounter and it might be. But what if it wasn’t? What if the stranger was a criminal looking for his or her next victim?

  • Your child’s name
  • Where your older  children go to school
  • What activities your children attend
  • What neighborhood you live in and whatever that implies about your socioeconomic status
  • That you’re a single mom
  • Where you go to the gym
  • You probably don’t have a gun based on your political ideology

This is a dangerous amount of information and makes it pretty easy to find you again.

If there are only one skating rink and one soccer field in your area, it wouldn’t be hard to manipulate another “accidental” meeting. You’ll be at the school during drop-off and pick-up. You’ll probably go to the gym while the older children are at school and put Jane in childcare. It’s just a matter of watching the entrance for a few days to figure out your pattern. Jane, at 3, may feel like the stranger is safe since Mommy had a pleasant conversation with him or her. If the stranger “accidentally” runs into you in the neighborhood, there’s likely not to be a man in the house coming home any time soon and you won’t be armed.

They can also glean a pretty decent idea of your economic status based on the car you drive and the neighborhood where you live.

The interaction might not take place at the grocery store, of course. It could be at the playground, at school in the pick-up line, or at the coffee shop. The threat could be a man or a woman. It could be another parent. It could be someone who seems just like you or who seems vulnerable themselves. Any place you chat with strangers is a place someone could be looking at you as a potential target.

And actually, it doesn’t even have to be a stranger. Someone you see on a regular basis will automatically make you feel less guarded. But just because they’re familiar doesn’t mean they need to know too much about you.

Why would this stranger be stalking you?

It could be because of you – maybe you’re his or her “type. “It could be because he or she is involved in child pornography and you have three children. Maybe the stranger is a pedophile and you have three potential targets. Maybe the stranger is looking for a good house for the next home invasion robbery.

Maybe it’s perfectly innocent.

Whatever the reason, between a quick conversation in line at the grocery store, the stuff plastered all over your car, and what’s on your car keys, you have given a potential predator far too much information and you never thought twice about it.

Here’s how the conversation could have gone instead.

How could that interaction have gone in a way that didn’t give out information that makes you an easy target? You don’t have to be rude to avoid giving out too much intel on yourself.

  • Stranger: Your daughter is so cute.
  • You: Thank you.
  • Stranger: Is this your only child?
  • You: Nope. (polite smile) What about you? Do you have children?
  • Stranger: No, just a niece.
  • You: I bet you’re a fantastic uncle/aunt. Have a good day. Nice talking to you!

You leave the encounter and you have had a courteous conversation without giving out any personal information in the exchange above.

The stranger makes his or her purchase and follows you to the car. You have no bumper stickers on your SUV that show the members of your household, your political beliefs, or where your children are honor students.

Congratulations. You just made it far more difficult to find you and your children.

Why do we give out so much personal information?

This was a topic that was brought up both in the women’s violence avoidance and de-escalation course I just took with Dr. Tammy McCracken of Kore Self Defense in Ashburn, Virginia and the urban survival course that I took with Selco and Toby.

We, as a group, are not good protectors of our personal information.

I’m not talking about your credit card number or your social security number. I’m talking about the things that make you easy to locate for anyone who wants to find you. I’m talking about the things that make it easy to strike up a “common ground” conversation, like the activities your child is involved in or your political beliefs or even your favorite sports team.

Many of us are open books, and that isn’t a very safe way to live, especially when you get into the mindset of a predator.

The non-verbal cues are the clothes we wear (Molon Labe t-shirt, anyone?), the car we drive (bumper stickers, how expensive it is), and the information right at our front door (maybe it’s a sign issuing a warm welcome to the home of John and Jane Doe, along with Jack & Susie and the little dog, Spot.) Is your house “protected by Glock home security?”  Great – now everyone knows there are guns and ammo, and that they’d better take you completely by surprise, maybe while you’re home alone in the shower.

There’s no reason in the world to provide all of this information to complete strangers yet people do it all the time.

Isn’t all this a little bit paranoid?

People often say that that you’re being paranoid to worry about all these things. I say you’re being smart. Every bit of information you give to strangers can be used to find or manipulate you, your spouse, and your children.

Remember how Jeffrey Epstein’s recruiters found girls who could be easily manipulated? They looked for the loners and the disenfranchised. Then once they pinpointed a girl that looked vulnerable, it was simple to get the information that would tell you she’d be impressed by a donation to an AIDs awareness charity.

If you’re a single mom like me, it pays to be aware that sometimes men will make an effort to insinuate themselves into your life but not because you are the target – your kids are. In some cases, pedophiles or child pornographers will sweep you off your feet to get to your children. This doesn’t mean that you can never date, but for goodness sakes, don’t put photographs of your children on your dating profile or your Facebook account. The internet is like a shopping mall for pedos with kids displayed everywhere.

There are many different ways that predators choose their victims, but one thing is true: they look for easy targets. They look for the ones who won’t see them coming, the ones who are kind helpers, and the ones who give out too much information. If you’re a closed book as far as information is concerned, you might be too much trouble to choose as a potential victim because they can’t get enough details to attack you without risk.

How do you know if you’re giving out too much information?

Toby Cowern, Selco’s co-instructor, is a former member of British military intelligence. He told us to play a game as we were traveling home. He wanted us to find out how much information we could easily get from our fellow travelers while not disclosing anything of importance about ourselves.

He told us to ask questions that got important answers. He advised us to be observant. How much information do people just leave out there in the open on luggage tags and boarding passes? How easy is it to pretend you’re taking a selfie while grabbing a quick photo of that exposed luggage tag with a person’s name and street address?

Take it a step further than flying. Watch the person in front of you in line at the store. Strike up a friendly conversation. See what they’re buying. Observe the car the other shopper is getting into,

Did they have children’s things like juice boxes or sugary cereals? Was their cart full of organic foods or was it all generic brands? What did you learn in conversation? Were they wearing a lanyard from their workplace? What do their clothing and car tell you about them?

Learning how to get information from other people can help you learn how to protect your own information. I’m not suggesting you be creepy or threatening, but you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to get another person to open up. Especially if you’re a woman talking to another woman, you can get past her guard in a matter of seconds by finding something “in common” whether it’s true or not.

It’s pretty scary to watch how fast you can discover where somebody lives (generally, not specifically) and works, whether she’s married or not and if she has children.

And scarier still, can someone else harvest information about you this easily?

Do you give out too much information?

Did you see yourself or someone you know in the scenarios I described above? If so, this is something of which you should be aware. I tend to be very cautious and I’ve taught my daughters to do it too. A lot of people give out too much information because they’re afraid of being rude. But you can shut down lines of inquiry pretty easily with a vague answer, a smile, and a question in return.

How can you make yourself a bit more “gray?”  Do you need to “cleanse” your car, your wardrobe, and your keychain of revealing information? Do you need to become a bit more cautious when talking to strangers? Do you need to work with your children or teens on how much information they’re giving out?

Don’t be afraid to live your life, but be aware of all the things people can learn about you that might make you vulnerable.  You can be friendly and courteous while still keeping yourself safe.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company.  She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Here\'s How Easy It Is for Predators to Get Personal Information That Could Put YOU at Risk
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Very useful information Daisy! I cringe whenever I see those minivans with stick figures telling predators exactly how many children you have and what they like doing. Although I suppose driving a minivan alone tells people you have kids! When I think back to the trip I just got back from, I got into several friendly conversations with strangers during breakfast at the various hotels I stayed at – including mentioning that I was from Ontario, was checking out various places in the country for possible relocation because I wanted to be close to my father in Massachusetts. I don’t think any of that could actually be used to track me, and the mostly elderly women or couples I was chatting with probably were not predators anyway (and really, of what interest is a clearly not wealthy fat menopausal woman anyway?) But now that I think back on it, there really was no reason to give out that information to strangers. At least my car is inoffensive – it is 12 years old and sports various dents and bruises, has no bumper stickers (I always think having a political bumper sticker is begging to have your car vandalized by someone who thinks differently), and the only visible identifiers are license plate (can’t do much about that), handicapped sticker (ditto), and the little label auto places affix to the windshield that tell you at what mileage you should have your next oil change.

  • It’s not just predators “on the street” to worry about. Suppose you learn that some of the vaccines your state is promoting (or even requiring) to be administered to your kids contain mercury — unsafe in any quantity, but usually never disclosed to the parent(s). Some states are using such refusal as justification for CPS to confiscate your kids forever. That puts them in foster homes, which apparently pedophiles love to own and operate. You need not be opposed to the concept of vaccination, but you should not be forced to make the choice between accepting an autism-risky vaccination for your kids or losing custody of them forever!

    Here are a couple of examples of such state-authorized child stealing over different issues:

    Remember those Florida parents whose son was abducted by the state after they refused chemo treatments? The government has now assumed PERMANENT CUSTODY of the child
    09/12/2019 / By Ethan Huff

    https://tyranny.news/2019-09-12-remember-those-florida-parents-whose-son-was-abducted-by-the-state-refused-chemo-treatments-government-now-permanent-custody.html

    and

    Help stop CPS from kidnapping children in Texas by supporting House Bill 3331, Monday, September 23, 2019 by: Ethan Huff

    https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-09-23-stop-cps-from-kidnapping-children-in-texas.html

    –Lewis

  • Very good information. A lot of people are clueless about security. If people see my car, they will see a Marine Corps and a Vietnam Veteran bumper sticker. Marks my car a certain way, telling anybody that this is not an easy mark.
    The most interaction I ever give in a situation like that is to comment about the cute kid. I might ask the child’s age and if it’s in the 2~4 year range, I comment that I have great-granddaughter about that age. I have one at 2 and one at 4.. Then I tell them to have a great day and break off interaction.

    Remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t out to get you.

    • As long as you’re not in a Red Flag Law state where anyone can notice what you have on your bumper sticker and report you as a potential trouble maker. Then the authorities would descend on you without mercy.

      That’s happened here in SoCal.

  • I have an unusual last name, which makes me fairly easy to track. Plus I live in a small town where most people know where everyone lives anyway (when I bought my house, the other realtor and mortgage officer had family that had lived in it at one time). But, having lived a big chunk of my life on military bases, I don’t have any identifying info on my car, my keys, etc, and I don’t wear my name badge outside of school. I also rarely answer strangers’ questions with anything but a general answer and another question. I’m pretty private. I do see how easy it is to look up information on social media, tho, so I try to keep up with all the information blocks on that stuff. I wish we could erase old information from those sites.

  • I already learned most of this from books and videos about how to protect yourself from cops. But it works for other types of predators too. 🙂

  • “You probably don’t have a gun based on your political ideology” – that would be a fatal mistake. Plenty of us who gave up on the republican party have firearms. Just a matter of which ones we choose to own.
    Social media is far more of a risk IMHO. I shake my head at those who post pictures of themselves, much less children. Posting that you are at or “can’t wait, leaving for on “.
    Any women, married or otherwise, needs to not look or act like a target. And it doesn’t matter if you are on the “good” or “bad” side of town.

  • I have tried to impart similar information to my now adult children, who have their own children. Most of them think we are just being paranoid, they are of the ‘social media’ age, and still don’t understand the potential consequences. Even the couple who do ‘get it’, still share too much IMHO. Living in a small town, I have to admit to being guilty of ‘oversharing’ a bit in conversation with ‘strangers’ and people I don’t really know. I think that is part of ‘country life’. But I like the suggestions on how to deflect from sharing too much yet still appearing ‘friendly’.

  • This is an excellent article Daisy. The example you gave about the conversation and what a predator could glean from it is so important! My dear dad always told me “The less people know about you, the better.” He told me as a teenager, before social media, and I have heeded his advice now especially as an adult. One acquaintance called me “elusive” one day, and it bothered me for a long time. Then I really thought about it and consider it an achievement now. Lol

    I stopped using Facebook seven years ago, but my husband still uses it. We decided before our daughter was born that we would not post any info or share any photos of her on social media. We did so for many reasons including to protect her, her well being and safety. We told family and friends not to post photos of her, either.

    We went to a wedding a few months ago and saw extended family who we rarely see or talk to. They all asked all about our child and to see photos. They were super excited and genuine, which was so nice. But we also realized they asked because they knew nothing about her. Everyone knows everyone’s business due to social media, and people feel that they “know” you and your family, even if they really don’t. It’s so strange how social media has changed relationships and the fabric of our society.

    I am not one to gab with strangers on the street and in public. I keep it simple and polite, and will continue not to offer much especially to keep my daughter safe.

    Keep up the great work Daisy!!!

  • I have a story that is both funny and horrifying. Once i was on a business trip in Alabama. I was sitting on a deck chair at the hotel pool. There were 3 kids in the pool, siblings ages 7 to 12, no adult supervision. For some reason, these 3 kids came up to me and starting spilling their guts! They told me every detail of their lives! Finally they left the pool area. I am sure they would have jumped right into my car had I suggested a trip for ice cream. I sure hope their mother has gotten older and wiser and gives them more supervision.

    On another occasion, in Texas, I took a 3-yr-old niece to a children’s playground in the housing development. It was deserted. The mothers literally looked out their windows, saw an adult and sent their kids out the front door. Within 30 minutes I found myself the only adult with about 20 small kids. I grabbed my niece and fled before a kid got hurt and I got sued. But yes, their mothers were just fine with me, a stranger, supervising their toddlers.

  • Sorry, but a lot of your points of alarm are useless nonsense at best, and at worst the stuff of an over active imagination of somebody who watches too many Jason Bourne movies when it comes to the hard core reality. I’m not going to go into detail not wanting to give any useful ideas to bad people but a serious predator doesn’t want to or need to talk to their potential victim or follow them around like some private eye to find out where they live. Especially if they are planning to do a very evil home invasion type crime. And for some reason you happened to be the unlucky person they picked out while doing their Walmart shopping. A savvy predator could take one look at your car and in 15 minutes know your name and address. If they wanted to spend a few extra dollars and for some reason they wanted to know everwhere you went in the last week, they could get a print out of that if you have a smart phone.

    What you are better off ‘playing’ as a game, is how to set up a best home perimeter anti-intrusion system and a plan of defending yourself with your firearm in your home or in everyday activity if needed. If you must ‘play’, play ‘games’ of situational awareness at all times as much as possible when you’re not practicing with your weapon or rehersing security strategiy.

    • I think you completely missed the point of the article. Perhaps you’re living in a parallel universe where predatory humans don’t exist.

  • As seen in my local grocery store – 2 out of 3 mothers yakking on their cell phones while pushing their carts. Their attention was NOT on their children.

  • Some 2021 random observations about maintaining the privacy of your personal information;

    Some people simply refuse to carry a smartphone, probably because of how easily they can be hacked. Warren Buffet is one … and I’m sure it’s not because he can’t afford it. The older style of flip / dumb / feature phones that only let you make and receive calls and text messages are a lot more secure.

    Edward Snowden has a video on YouTube where he advises people against using wi-fi for similar reasons. If you can use only the hard wired connection via an ethernet cable for your internet needs, your data loss risks are a lot less. If you go the nomad route where wi-fi is your only access, you don’t have that hard wired option.

    Do you spill your guts on neighborhood websites like nextdoor.com? You might want to think through the privacy risks of that.

    Does any of your phone numbers tie to your home address? Many years ago I learned the value of an unlisted physical address in the phone book, even if I chose to have a listed phone number. These days when anyone can do an online search on a phone number or your name, the privacy risk is still there. There’s also value in using a blind outgoing message on your answering machine that does not disclose your name to the robo-call industry. It’s not difficult to let the people you know understand that they can still leave you a message if you aren’t close to a home desk phone to pick up immediately.

    Now consider how unwise it could be to use a phone number on your luggage tag(s) that traces to your home address. Better to use an anonymous phone number that still works but doesn’t disclose your home address via an online search. One example might be a MagicJack number, but there are many other such VOIP options.

    For the many people who have gone the cell phone only route, see my discussions above.

    Many years ago real estate investors learned that if they bought their own home (as well as investor houses) in the name of a land trust (instead of in their own name), they were much less of a target of lawyers’ frivolous lawsuits who generally run an asset search up front to learn if such a lawsuit might be sufficiently profitable. The other benefit of that land trust system is that it prevents nosy snoops from running a simple search on the county property website to learn the name(s) of the house owner. While the land trust system has a long European history going back at least through medieval times (when peasants chose to let the Catholic Church be the title-holding trustee so that conquering Norman bullying lords wouldn’t have the guts to steal the peasants’ property from the Church), it only became popular in the US in recent decades. Today in contrast it might keep a pedophile from learning where your kids live.

    In this era where government is increasingly becoming an East German Stasi knockoff of their surveillance state, your choice of email services and politically sensitive discussions or purchase items might suggest that you run a search on email service alternatives to the hopelessly nosy and censoring Gmail, etc. Several European email services operate with far greater respect for your privacy. Just a couple of examples might be protonmail.com or disroot.org but there are others. Do you really want Google to know that you’re interested in buying a 3-D printer capable of DIY-making your own ghost gun? But consider something of more widespread interest. Suppose you don’t like the risk of deadly blood clots and permanent DNA damage from poorly tested Covid-19 vaccines and instead want to run a search for sources and proper instruction for either the highly effective ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine that the medical-industrial-government complex has deemed grounds for yanking a doctor’s license. Do you think that wisely choosing different browsers, email services, and even snail-mail that would attract less Big Tech attention might be a good idea?

    –Lewis

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