How to Beat the Bad Guys at Their Own Game
by Nanci Rathbun
I’ve dealt with a lot of cheaters, liars and just plain weasels in my career as a private investigator, and in my marriage to Bozo–and, no, I don’t call him that in front of our grown children or grandchildren. I dumped him after his second fling, which gave me the impetus to examine my life and decide what I really wanted. Not the wife, not the mother, not the nonna. Me. Turns out that my degree in library science set me up well for a career as a PI. I always loved the research aspects of librarianship most, and I’ve put them to good use in my work. Here are a few tips to keep your personal information personal.
What do you throw in the trash? Once it hits the curb, it’s public property. The Supremes ruled on it in 1988, and I’m not talking about the group that Diana Ross fronted. So invest in a shredder, preferably cross-cut. It’s not that hard to reassemble documents from a straight-line shredder. Even the cross-cut can be put back together, if it’s worth the time and effort. It usually is, for folks like me and law enforcement. You can always burn your papers, or dunk them in a bucket of bleach, but that seems like overkill for most of us. Even ads and magazines can provide clues that you might want to keep secret. Let’s say Joe Randall, an avid fly fisherman, ran off with the company funds and set himself up in a new location with a new identity. Joe’s smart, so he doesn’t call Mom on Mother’s Day or send email to anyone he knew in his old life. But he subscribes to Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer magazines, using his new identity. Magazines sell their subscription lists, so a good investigator can buy the lists and find out who’s subscribed since Joe ran off. It will take some legwork, but given enough time and cash, Joe will be brought to justice.
As for the internet … well, there’s a whole world of hackers looking to find your data and use it to their benefit. I never provide credit card information unless I’m logged in using an ethernet connection. It’s just too darn easy to hack a WiFi signal. And my high-tech former special ops buddy, Spider Mulcahey, taught me about Duck Duck Go, an alternative to Google. It doesn’t track your searches or the sites you’ve visited. There’s a downside, though–you have to constantly re-enter your favorites, but, as Spider says, that’s the price you pay.
Worried about whether your former boyfriend or girlfriend is somehow tracking you? You should be, because there’s a cellphone app for that. Or several. So if someone’s had your phone in their possession, check to see what apps are installed and search for any suspicious names online. There are even free GPS trackers that allow access to your cellphone. The simplest way to be sure you’re not followed from afar is to tuck your device into an RFID pouch, which blocks the signal. Of course, you may miss a few calls, but that’s what voice mail is for. The pouch will even protect your credit cards from hackers who try to read its electromagnetic signal, although this is fast becoming unnecessary as chip-enabled cards are issued.
Does all this sound like overkill? Well, I’m fond of saying that just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean there’s nobody after you. No need to make it easy for the bad guys.
Hard Boiled Mystery
3rd in Series
Dark Chocolate Press LLC (March 14, 2018)
Paperback: 284 pages
Digital ASIN: B07BH61872
Did honor force him to abandon his wife and kids? Or is he just a weasel? Six years ago, Marcy Wagner hired PI Angelina Bonaparte to find her missing husband Hank, who cleaned out their bank accounts and disappeared. Then Angie finds his obituary in an upstate newspaper. Marcy wants to know what why he abandoned her and the kids. Angie does, too! She embarks on a mission that will blow the lid off Hank’s hidden life and reveal the reasons he ran. Was he a lowdown skunk? Or did he do the honorable thing when he left? Angie follows a twisted path to the truth and discovers that it lies perilously close to her own family life.
Nanci Rathbun is a lifelong reader of mysteries – historical, contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, hard-boiled, cozy … you can find them all on her bookshelves. She brings logic and planning to her writing from a background as an IT project manager, and attention to characters and dialog from her second career as a Congregationalist minister. Nanci grew up an Army brat, living in Germany, France, and Korea, as well as several states in the U.S. After her dad retired from the service, the family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, Nanci raised her daughter and son, while working at AT&T. She never expected to move, but when her second grandchild was on the way, she wanted to be closer. One of her greatest joys is hearing her three granddaughters shout ‘Nana’ when she comes in their front door in Fort Collins, Colorado.