This is a list of intuitive needs for civilized, modern society you wouldn’t otherwise know if you came from a poorer country or time-traveled here.
This isn’t always the case, and if you’re wealthy enough you can often hire specialists who can take care of most of this for you. Otherwise, you’ll suffer severe financial losses, expose yourself to unknowable risks, and be legally unsafe.
What Nobody Says: Marketing
The West is filled with marketing lies, but most people raised in it are immune to it.
- They’ve been fed lies and propaganda since they were young, so they’re typically aware of most image distortion methods.
Further, these lies are often heavily reinforced for the purpose of selling debt.
- Typically, they’ll bind you into a predatory (but legal) contract, though they’ll never fully take away your rights.
- However, a few predatory contracts will create a debt-based situation that will function effectively like indentured servitude.
No matter what, stay legally safe by only consenting to what you understand.
What Nobody Says: Reputation
In most of the world, the procedure for maintaining a reputation has been mostly the same for thousands of years:
- You need something done.
- You ask someone you know if they know anyone to do that thing, and if they don’t you can ask if they know someone who would know anyone.
- You trust that second-degree or third-degree person from how others trust that person.
- That second-degree person’s performance determines what you say about them later, and they become a future source for things you need done.
- When you receive a government-issued identification card, that government has created a legal entity that has your name in all-capital letters (a “legal fiction”).
- This entity is nothing more than a documented name with a few linking concepts like date of birth, city of birth, driver’s license number, etc.
- In places where that system has matured (e.g., USA) that legal entity is influenced every time a formal agreement is made or amended:
- Rental and mortgage agreements
- Bank accounts and lines of credit
- Financial purchases with any card associated to your name
- School attendance
- Telecom and utility agreements (e.g., cell phone, cable TV)
- Hospital and healthcare visits
- Official employment
- Government records, including tax filings and driver’s license/vehicle registration
- Owned real estate
- Certifications with various authorities (e.g., security clearance, government-managed licenses)
- Criminal record, courthouse visits, traffic violations, affiliations with any civil/criminal lawsuits
- Car rentals, auto repairs
- Mass transit (bus, airline, etc.)
- Customer loyalty cards
- Anything that affects that legal entity (change in terms, termination, late payment, new agreements, etc.) is your reputation.
- Multiple organizations track those legal arrangements (e.g., LexisNexis, Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).
- Many other organizations request reports for $20-350 per individual from those tracking entities, context-depending.
- Nobody individually sees how the situation unfolded, but they do see dates and events corresponding to the decisions they are required to make, going back a fixed number of years to the date.
- While individual rapport still matters in specific subdomains of society (e.g., the wealthy, casual/informal business deals, illegal activity), your first reputation with large entities will always be what your legal fiction says.
- It’s never a “complete” picture, but there’s enough information to fill in the gaps (e.g., Report 1 has a gap and Report 2 partly fills it).
- Governments send information to each other as well, but it’s also not complete.
- You may save money with some of those unconventional services, but it won’t reflect on your legal fiction.
- The Graham-Leach-Bliley Act typically requires a privacy notice disclosure (initial and annually), an opt-out notification for information sent to an unaffiliated third party, and clarified data security procedures.
- You can generally request the information available to you through precedents established in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
- However, you generally have no control over that information disseminating.
- If you don’t work with that system (e.g., lying, failure to perform your end of the contract), you’ll be quickly graylisted or blacklisted.
- You may lose the opportunity to get a bank account, access the internet, or get a loan.
- Further, depending on what you’ve done, almost any entity can conduct a skip trace to find you.
- Bail bondsmen, lawyers, legal personnel, process servers
- Banks and financial institutions, credit card companies, collection agencies, repossession agents
- Employment and tenant verification services
- Genealogists, journalists, police detectives
- Insurance fraud investigators, private investigators
- Medical finance professionals, real estate agencies
- Even if you try hiding, any individual with you who indicates your name will connect your new situation with your old one.
To that end, your reputation involves a few arcane tasks:
- Make sure those relevant reports capture advantageous things you do:
- Take out loans in your name, not anyone else’s (i.e., where you pay back someone else who borrows).
- Use established institutional entities for your activities whenever possible (e.g., a large bank like Chase or Wells Fargo instead of a transfer service like PayPal or Western Union).
- When it doesn’t matter much, use “standard” institutional services (e.g., mainstream large-scale insurance, large branded banks).
- Keep your reputation clear with large entities.
- Watch for the people who abuse this knowledge.
This situation means most casual (and typically cost-effective) interactions are simply your name running by on a database:
- The credit score asks 3 possible reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) if other banks found this entity trustworthy to lend money to.
- The insurance score asks a reporting company (LexisNexis) who this entity has had insurance with and what dates.
- Health information is accessible through the Medical Information Bureau.
- There are numerous other trade-specific reports, ranging from academic records to bank accounts open in your name.
- The reports never give a complete picture, and instead give information that may be relevant for that professional to do their job.
There are exceptions to this arrangement:
- The wealthiest class can afford to travel across the country to meet people in-person.
- The poorest class tend to be rejected by the formal system or perform extra-legal activities, meaning they can’t run reports on people and must instead trust on in-person interaction.
However, about 90% of the USA runs on this reputation-by-legal-fiction, meaning you are a database entry to them, with customer service requirements to prevent that walking dataset from moving to another provider.
There are pros and cons to this arrangement:
- Your legal fiction is relatively easy to positively influence by simply following the rules:
- If you don’t pay bills, most late fees are not negotiable more than once or twice.
- Fully reporting relevant information typically makes your interactions (and price) consistent nearly wherever you go.
- Large organizations trust other large organizations more than you.
- If it’s a smaller organization, they might trust it, but big institutions (e.g., insurance companies, banks) will prefer to receive clear data from other big institutions and governments.
- There are major risks:
- The bureaus are intentionally not easily available for disputing the information.
- If you ever lie about anything that materially exists on your legal fiction, that will be reported as well.
- If there’s ever a clerical error (e.g., typographical error on a name, mis-entered Social Security number), that will connect to a completely different entity and not count positively toward your score (and may even make the report indicate more people than there actually are).
- The entire system is portable, and it can follow wherever someone is authorized to run a report for your insurance, credit, health, or tax information.
- It does mean that most professionals are keenly aware of specific details of your background that may be relevant to them before you are.
- There’s zero grace if you screw up, since any chance to explain your situation will only work with one person at a time.
- Even one missed payment, on anything, can harm your score, and there’s nothing you can do about it except earn it back with future payments.
- If you ever incur a criminal record of any sort, the only way to fix it is to wait out your probation/parole then move to another state/region, and that still won’t fix it.
- The only way to fully fix a tarnished record is with better decisions and time.
- The improved evidence won’t erase the record of what happened, but it’ll make your future engagements work out fine once those older records fall off.
- Expect your record to improve around 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, to the date of the infraction.
- Since they don’t need to contact you, they won’t put much effort into it until they have to.
- The scoring is based on the approval of the people who may render a mutual benefit to you.
- There is no direct meaning from having a great insurance score, credit score, or health score.
What You Must Do
- Always keep your government-issued photo ID with you (i.e., driver’s license, state ID, or passport).
- File your yearly taxes, ideally by early February but definitely by April 15th.
- Honor the police’s authority, and never even imply you’re bribing them.
- Have liability insurance for all your automotives, keep the insurance card stored in the vehicle’s glove box, and only drive within the conditions that qualify for your license (e.g., don’t drive alone with a permit).
- Never trust the marketing: everyone lies and distorts the truth until you’re reading a contract.
- Constantly update your address every time you move, or use a PO box when you can.
- Get a cell phone for texting, and constantly keep it active.
- Get an email address, and never lose the password.
- When moving across political barriers, make sure all the relevant government entities are informed (e.g., DMV, postal service) and adapt your compliance to the new region.
What You Should Do
- Understand the legal doctrines that frame the nation’s laws.
- Distrust any contract you sign until it’s been thoroughly explained to you.
- If you still aren’t sure and anything significant depends on it, get assistance interpreting it by a legal professional.
- Keep certain documentation locked away in a safe container somewhere:
- Social security card
- Titles to vehicles and real estate
- Have a network of experts for the variety of needs you may run across (e.g., accounting, insurance, law, etc.).
- If you have money in collections, contact the source of the collections to pay them back to avoid a scam.
- If you don’t speak the native language well, install a translation app on your phone or bookmarked on your phone’s browser (e.g., Bing Translate, Google Translate).
What You Could Do
Change your name or use a nickname.
- If you don’t change your name, you risk typographical errors.
- If you do change your name legally, keep track of both the old and new name.
- In many cases, the easiest solution is to simply use a nickname for daily interactions, and carefully spell out your legal name for official purposes.
Save records of all relevant correspondence.
- Record every important business engagement or accident you experience (e.g., security camera, phone recordings, dashcam).
- Digitize all your documentation and keep it on secured cloud storage.
Use bank cards whenever possible, and have at least one bank account available for payments.
- In the USA, card payments are more ubiquitous than cash.
- If you have autopay, create a second account only for autopay expenses and transfer the budgeted amount into it every month.
If you’re a foreigner, request dual-citizenship, or get your new nation’s citizenship outright and renounce your old one.
- The procedures for this can vary heavily by political fashions, but it gives the stability of never risking deportation.