Value Your Privacy

My family and I went out to dinner last night, and as I do often, I scanned the room around me while I enjoyed my dinner. I wasn’t expecting an attack or anything, but it’s a habit I’ve picked up from years of training.

At the table next to me sat a husband and wife, in their fifties, looking forward to retirement in Florida, but now saddled with an unruly teenager who was recently arrested for drugs. The teenager attended some high school named after some long dead politician, and was in his senior year. Across the room sat another couple, young, probably newlyweds. The husband was either a police officer or a guy fresh from military service in the Marines. The last table was occupied by a family of four. They were Christians and the father was in the refrigeration business. He was taking muscle relaxants for his injured neck, and his wife was allergic to MSG. The kids were also a storehouse of free information.

How do I know these things? Simple. I listened. Because the first tenet of self-defense is awareness. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the faster you can respond.

In today’s world of cell phones, my space, face book, etc, the bad guys have been handed a banquet hall of easy targets. We share more information about yourselves without realizing it since we have allowed the privacy barriers to be broken down. We are literally chumming the waters waiting for the sharks to attack. And in the process, we are making ourselves easy targets. The second tenet of self-defense is to become a hard target. This is not difficult with a little extra care.

Think of the many ways a predator can make use of the information such as: the names of your kids, where they go to school, your home address, your work hours, where your parents live, etc. How many of you have one of those “My Child Is An Honor Student At Good Guy School”? Of course we are proud of our kids, but I do not have these things on my vehicle. How hard do you think it would be for a scumbag to kidnap your kid with such information and either use them to get to you, or ransom them, or worse?

The unfortunate reality of today’s civilization is that you need to think like a criminal to be able to see your own weaknesses and how they may be exploited. Living in a Pollyanna world with rose colored glasses on will get you killed.

In our world, we use the term TMI…or Too Much Information. Usually this is directed at discussion with kids describing their stomach flu or something of that nature. TMI whether it be sensitive or disgusting is not for publication.

Watch what you say in public. Think the worst of those within ear shot. You want a private conversation, don’t have it in a public place. And if you must, then keep your voices down so only those involved in the conversation can hear it. A stranger asks you for personal information? Tell them to pound sand. Or if you must provide it for some reason, make a “mistake” and give them bad information. Yes, lie. Change the numbers of your address or give them a different address. Same for phone numbers, dates of birth, and social security numbers. If you must give out the true information, be as guarded about it as you would be with your pin number to the ATM.

Look at your car. How many unnecessary stickers describing you or your family appear there? My favorite TMI faux pas is the stencil cartoon of all family members along with their names and ages sharply detailed on the back window. Come on folks. How many of you would walk into the “soon-to-be-released” ward of the local mental hospital for the criminally insane and give a 30 minute briefing on your family and where they can be found? That is in effect what you are doing. Home address? How many of you have your address printed on all your personal info? Consider getting a mail drop. A mail drop is a physical address with individual mailboxes such a Mail Boxes, Etc., or a UPS Store. Have the psychos and terrorists show up there when they want to find you and not the real address.

These are just a few things to consider. How many more can you think of? The bottom line is that all the skills and weapons in the world will not save you if the bad guys can target your weak points and ambush you. So not only must you stay alert, but also guard your information like it was worth its weight in gold.

**Angie M. Tarighi is the CEO/Founder of Women's Self-Defense Institute and providing self defense training, education awareness & personal protection products empowering women to fight back against crime.

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