How to Disappear Completely

Three Parts:Thinking It ThroughCovering Your TracksYour New Identity

Whether you need to lay low or simply want to be left alone, you might be considering a complete disappearance. Technology makes completely vanishing a virtual impossibility, but with enough diligence and care, it's possible to vanish. To disappear completely, you will have to think it through, erase any tracks, and create a new identity for yourself.

Part 1
Thinking It Through

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    Understand the legal ramifications. Be aware that, depending on the circumstances of your disappearance, you could be held legally accountable in a variety of ways if you're ever found. There are many good reasons and good ways to disappear, but there are more bad reasons and bad ways to do so.
    • For instance, if a large search party is sent to look for you, you might have to pay back the agency that incurred the costs of the search. Therefore, do not pack your suitcase and start walking.
    • If you're disappearing to escape debts or substantiate an insurance claim, you could be charged with fraud and imprisoned. Know that staging your own death or disappearance is a serious and potentially illegal act before you proceed.
    • If you want to disappear to escape a gang or if you're being blackmailed or stalked, contact law enforcement immediately. There are legal ways to change your identity and stay safe in these situations.
    • If you are the victim of domestic abuse, the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. It is confidential and safe. If you have a child with you, call 1-800-4ACHILD for immediate assistance for the both of you.
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    Know that you must go alone. Your odds of being discovered increase dramatically if you intend to disappear with another person, especially a child.
    • Further, disappearing with a child could get you charged with kidnapping or child endangerment if you're discovered. Even if you have good intentions, you're on a paved road to hell.
    • If you have any reason for disappearance that incriminates another person, take legal action before vanishing to protect yourself from allegations that could be made in the future.
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    Understand what you're running from. After all, you're not staging a vanishing act for no reason. When they say "keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer," this is a situation they were referring to. Know what you're up against to decrease your chance of being found.
    • If you're running from a spouse or family member, think about their resources. How far would they go to find you? How much money do they have to spend?
    • If you're running from the police, the IRS, or immigration officers, you have your work cut out for you. These are men and women who have decades of experience and have no personal investment in your struggle. Familiarize yourself with their tactics to prolong your escape.

Part 2
Covering Your Tracks

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    Get rid of certain possessions. You want to make sure whoever might follow up on you has absolutely zero leads. It's best to tie up loose ends and not fake your own kidnapping. Make sure it's clear that you vanished under voluntary circumstances.
    • Destroy as many pictures of you as possible. This keeps family and friends from going around town asking others if they've seen you.
    • Abandon your car. Leave the pink slip in the glove box, the door unlocked, the window down, and park it in a bad area. A thief's lucky day.
    • Don't be tempted to take mementos with you. This will connect you to your old life, making you want to go back home, and be a resource for your opposition later on. Your favorite hat, water bottle, and cowboy boots will have to go.
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    Disconnect yourself. In today's world, this step is one of the most imperative. Slowly decrease your activity until none is the norm. When you delete your Facebook and Twitter profiles, no one will be any wiser. Investigators will be hard-pressed to find traces of you and online friends can't be tapped for information.
    • This step takes preparation. You cannot pack your bags and walk out the door tomorrow; if you do, you will fail at disappearing. Start disposing of your old personality one bit at a time.
    • Leave early in the morning, when your parents are in bed, or after school, but only if they work late or do night shifts. If leaving at night, be cautious. Stay calm; don't panic.
    • Tell your friends and family that you're taking a break from the bombardment of stimuli forced upon you by the internet. If you cannot do this, you're not ready to disappear.
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    Get rid of the plastic. From now on, you'll be using cash. Credit cards are the easiest way to track a person; cut them up into tiny, unrecognisable pieces and throw them away, or burn them and dispose of the ash. You may want to dispose of the trash yourself if you're concerned someone will go through it.
    • Do not think of keeping them for an emergency. Get rid of them to avoid the temptation. Your old identity is not a crutch to be used when you're tired and hungry.
    • Ditch anything plastic tied to your name. Is it a video rental card? Gone. American Eagle membership? Adios! Delta Airlines SkyMiles Premiere Flyer? Au revoir, mon petit chou. You cannot use a coupon code, a PIN, or anything that could be tied to your former name. Cash, cash, cash.
    • Consider riding a bike, traveling by train or bus, and walking, as these modes of transport don't require you to possess a driver's license. But if you do choose to travel by public transport, be aware that others are able to see you, security footage may be taken, and you could get yourself caught if you aren't careful. And don't hitchhike or take taxis/minicabs, as the drivers could foil your plans and report you to the police.
    • Flying anywhere is probably out of the question. There's no way to buy a plane ticket at most airlines without putting forth a lot of personal information, including a credit/debit card. Doing so under your real identity is certainly impossible. You will be tracked whether it's interstate or international (where you will also have to pass through customs). Of all consumer businesses Airlines have the closest visible connection to NSA, FBI, and other security organizations. You could try to use a fake identity and passport, but the scrutiny is increasingly intensive and deceptive. You may not be flat out denied boarding your flight but you might be in for a surprise at your destination where someone is waiting to arrest you.
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    Lie. There's no right way around it--you're going to have to lie to those around you. It's an unfortunate truth, but hopefully worth it in the end.
    • Create false leads to companies. Change your address, "correct" the spelling of your name, book a flight to Chile with no intention of ever getting on. Create a backstory that will confuse anyone who starts to sniff out your trail. Stick to one fake identity; having several will be confusing, and people may get suspicious.
    • You're going to have to lie to friends and family. As you start coming around less and less, it's inevitable that you'll have to field their questions. If you are unwilling to cut ties completely with them, establish ways in advance of staying in contact. Superfluous email accounts used on public computers, prepaid phones--there are ways to do this if you think it through. They may not be able to find you, but you can find them.
    • Tell no one, if possible and necessary. Even your closest friend in the entire world cannot know. Circumstances may change and they'll feel new obligations to inform those concerned about your whereabouts.
    • Create a ruse. Make a long-term plan. You have cash for now and a plan for the next 4 weeks, but what about after that? How will you maintain this identity as you sip from a coconut you had chopped down personally while sunbathing on the coast of Belize?
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    • A good disappearing act takes work. If you've the means, start a "corporation" that pays for all your bills. It should only be loosely tied to you by "name" and handles all your expenses.
    • Spend the months before you vanish slowly withdrawing cash and setting up a way to maintain the flow. You do not want to end up doing anything quickly and haphazardly, causing eyebrows to raise.
    • It's best not to pay for (or steal) a false social security number or a passport. You could be sporting the identity of a convict or a deceased person and/or the passport could be bogus (as you're in line at the airport, being looked at heavily by a customs officer). Keep the looming jail time to a minimum.

Part 3
Your New Identity

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    Gather your resources. Before you disappear, make sure you'll have what you need to survive. Slowly move your assets to cash and store your money in a secure location until you're ready to leave. Purchase any supplies, before or after your disappearance, with cash.
    • If you're going rogue, potentially necessary items include a large backpack, warm clothes, waterproofs, sturdy shoes, a tent, a lightweight sleeping bag, maps, a compass, and a pocket knife.
    • If you're taking a more luxurious way out, gather your cash, necessary papers, and a few basic items of clothing. Don't take valuable or sentimental items with you; expensive things may be stolen or used to track you down, and if someone notices a favored memento of yours missing along with you, they'll catch onto your plan.
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    Leave town. Now that you're all set, where will you go? Take time to decide. The world is your oyster. The only thing stopping you is customs.
    • If you're considering going international, research any visas or government regulations you'll need to adhere to. Many cheaper countries make it easy to live for long periods of time, but if you want to do it legally, you'll need residency cards and a current identity to show them.
    • If you're staying in your country, weigh your chances of being found. Make sure you know no one within 100 miles (160 km) of the area and, of course, never frequent a vacation spot you used to visit.
    • Commit. Not taking time to plan out your disappearance, buying false papers on the deep web or from one-eyed Fred, and hitching a ride to Tijuana is a recipe for a disaster and an even bigger headache than the one you're running away from. Commit yourself to this idea and allow time to plan it successfully.
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    • This vanishing act will take its toll on you physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Take some time to weigh up the pros and cons of disappearing, and determine whether or not you're up for the challenge.
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    Cultivate new habits. If you don't develop a completely new persona, you'll fall into the same patterns that made you want to flee in the first place.
    • People can often be recognised by their movements, so if you usually dawdle, walk quickly, or vice versa.
    • Buy clothes you normally wouldn't wear. If you're a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, become Mr. Businessman. If you're that girl who's into hipster glasses and combat boots, opt for the polo. A new sense of fashion will make it easier to think of yourself as a different person.
    • Cut and dye your hair a natural colour that won't attract attention.
    • Eat different foods. If you're addicted to the Baconatorâ„¢, it's gonna have to be cold turkey. Ditch your old eating habits and hit the grocery store with your wad o' cash. Avoiding restaurants (especially ones you used to visit regularly) and familiar patterns makes it harder to trace you and easier to forget yourself.
    • Make it impossible to trace you. Even after you're gone, you won't know who could be looking for you. It'll take constant diligence, but the peace of mind is priceless.
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    • Wear a hat indoors. Most public places have security cameras and if they're on your scent, they'll monitor these.
    • Clean up after yourself. Leaving hotel rooms trashed with evidence of fingerprints and bodily fluids is asking for a police report. Wherever you go, make it so you were barely ever there.
    • Stay away from snail mail. If it's known you're in a particular area, this can quickly narrow down your opposition's search. Only use snail mail to disorganize and confuse the ones you're running from.


  • Delete this page from your browser history, or research modes of disappearance on a public computer, such as one at a library.
  • Check your supplies regularly. Make sure that you always have enough food, water, etc with you.
  • Be absolutely precise in your planning. Leave no room for error.
  • Don't try to fake your own death. It's difficult and potentially dangerous to pull off.
  • Disappearing should be a last resort. Make sure that it's your best and final option before undertaking such a drastic measure.
  • If you are contemplating suicide, please know that there are other ways out. If you're in the US, call 1-800-273-8255 immediately.
  • Find a place where your face would fit in and wouldn't stand out. The biggest way to stand out and attract unwanted attention is to be of a different race or color than everyone else around you, let alone to speak a different language from everyone else.
  • If going rogue, travel to a wild area where no one lives. You don't want to camp in Central Park or the woods just outside of town.
  • When you are picking a new name, do not choose one that starts with the same letter as your current one, or a name you used to praise. If you are a writer, do not use the name of one of your characters.


  • If you do choose to return from your disappearance, understand that it's a bumpy process. Your family and friends may be deeply wounded by your deception, and you might never earn their forgiveness. Don't expect to take up your old life again as if nothing ever happened.
  • Disappearing will potentially devastate your friends and family members. Assess how guilt over this would affect you before leaving.
  • Guard your safety first. Never place yourself in the way of physical harm in order to maintain your disappearance.
  • Pulling a disappearing act such as this is something that only clever, educated people can successfully pull off. You will be in situations where it will be absolutely necessary to hide your intelligence. If you are temporarily working as a manual laborer, you should talk and carry yourself like the other working-class joes. You're going to be looked at very strangely and suspiciously if you're working at a warehouse in a rural midwest backwater county and talk like an Ivy League Rhodes Scholar or a Silicon Valley techie.
  • You are going to have to start from the bottom, as far as profession goes. You can no longer rely on your years of education, knowledge, skills, experience or professional contacts. If you had the kind of profession where getting a foot in the door was depended on reputation, past accomplishments, or "being in the network", then you'll have to abandon it because as far as you are concerned, that person is no longer you. If you were a doctor, lawyer, executive, college professor, or had any type of occupation where "Who you know" and reams of traceable credentials are paramount, you will have to look for another profession. You will have to opt for Manual labor, retail, pink collar service jobs, and any of the various occupations where they don't care about your pedigree. You can always later on, start your own buisness.

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Categories: Social Activism