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Fri Mar 8, 2019, 08:02 AM

Covering your digital footprints in a frugal and legal manner

Last edited Sat Mar 9, 2019, 07:08 AM - Edit history (1)

A few weeks ago, MineralMan posted an OP about how Amazon knows him.

"Amazon's algorithms know me. They know my habits. They know what types of products I buy. They know my budget. They know what kind of jewelry my wife likes. Amazon customizes its website to suit each person who shows up on their site. Through extensive database records of my activities on their website and algorithms that select what items to display when I land on the site, they create a customized page that doesn't look exactly like the page anyone else sees. "


Many of us shop online because of better prices, better selection, and we don't have to drive. Without leaving my office desk, I can browse many stores. But this does come with a price. Websites can be hacked and your personal info, including credit card numbers, can be stolen. Corporations like Amazon, Google and Facebook will get to know a great deal about you.

Below are some steps one can take to cover your digital footprints. They are legal and I've been doing them for close to a year now. A little over a month ago, I was in the in the waiting area of a beauty salon while my wife was getting her hair done. In a Consumer Reports magazine, there was an article outlining the steps that I've already been doing for sometime.

Choose an alias

Using an alias is legal most everywhere in the US as long as one doesn't use that alias to steal another's identify, engage in fraud or other criminal activities. Movie stars have been using aliases for decades. Pick a name you can easily remember and that doesn't belong to anyone you may know personally or incidentally. This will be the name that you'll use when creating on line store accounts.

Create an e-mail address

Create one for your alias. This is the address you'll use when creating on line store accounts.

Cell Phone

I bought a cheap smart phone and use prepaid cards. This is the number I give when creating on line store accounts and it's the number I use for Facebook's two step verification process.

Physical Address

Most likely you'll just use your current address. Another option is to go to your local post office and rent a PO box. Looking at the USPS website, a small box would cost me $54 a year to rent. An extra small box would cost me $40 for 12 months. You can use the PO box as the real address for your alias (you'll have to rent the box using your real name) by using the physical address of the Post Office and your PO number such as Your alias, 111 main Street #102, Anytown, NY zip code. I own a house in a nearby town that is used by family once in a while and that's the address I use for my alias and when creating on line store accounts. I'm in town two or three times a week so I check the mail and I have packages delivered there.

On line store accounts

Now that you have your name, e-mail address, physical address, cell number, you can create accounts at the store sites you shop from.

Credit cards, Reloadable cards, Non-reloadable cards and gift cards

I most often use non-reloadable cards when on line shopping. I buy them at the local Family Dollar or Dollar General stores. The beauty of these cars is that one does not have to provide personal info, including SS number to activate and use them. Just pay for them at the checkout where the teller will activate the card(s). There is an activation fee for the non-reloadable Visa and Mastercard cards. It's $2.95 for the $25 card and goes up to $6.95 for the $200 card. I most often buy the $200 Visa card because it's the better deal. Another option is to buy gift cards for the particular store you will be shopping from. The next step up is to buy reloadable cards but here you have to provide personal info, including SS #, in order to activate them. My guess is that they would be more convenient to use then the gift cards or non-reloadable cards.

Sometimes I do have to use a credit card when making an on line purchase and my alias is an authorized user on some of my cards such as Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon Chase, and Target. To add an authorized user, one just needs name, DOB (use your own or make one up) and address.

Internet search engines

Google tracks everywhere you go and keeps that info. I use and recommend DuckDuckGo.

Bottom line is that if you are worried about on line privacy, it doesn't cost much to provide yourself with extra security. Since I don't use my alternate cell phone much, the cost of a prepaid cards runs me about $7.00 a month. The cost for an XS PO box in my area would be about $4.00 a month. There are fees for activating a non-reloadable card but I don't shop on line much, being on SSDI, I don't have much to spend, so a $200 card will usually last me awhile.

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Reply Covering your digital footprints in a frugal and legal manner (Original post)
Kaleva Mar 2019 OP
mitch96 Mar 2019 #1
marybourg Mar 2019 #2
mitch96 Mar 2019 #3
marybourg Mar 2019 #4
Sherman A1 Mar 2019 #5
Kaleva Jun 2019 #6

Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:07 AM

1. Justified paranoia proven by history...........

or is it just being smart?

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Response to mitch96 (Reply #1)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:38 AM

2. Those are the only possible characterizations?

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Response to marybourg (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 12:59 PM

3. Pardon, but I don't understand the question.... nt

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Response to mitch96 (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 04:51 PM

4. Couldn't there be any explanations for the posting and the

actions outlined therein other than *justifiable* paranoia or being smart?

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Mar 23, 2019, 05:45 AM

5. Interesting

Thanks for posting

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Mon Jun 3, 2019, 07:27 PM

6. Just started using the Brave browser

Here is a link to the Brave Browser site that explains its features:


I changed the settings so my default search is DuckDuckGo and my homepage is Brave Browser page. In the drop down menu in the upper right, I have the option to open up private windows with TOR.

"What is a Private Window with Tor?

When you are inside a Private Window with Tor, Brave doesnít connect directly to a website like normal. Instead, you connect to a chain of three different computers in the volunteer-run Tor network, one after another, and only then to the website youíre visiting. Between those three Tor computers, only one knows where your connection is really coming from and only one knows where itís really going. And those two donít even talk to each other because thereís another computer in the middle!"


One may download and use the TOR browser which I might do sometime soon,


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