In my preceding post, I provided you with some “do-it-yourself” advice about how to locate an individual. Hopefully that information was useful, and in an easy case it should in fact do the trick. However, if you are dealing with an individual who does not want to be found, someone who is “off the grid,” or even just someone with a very common name, you will undoubtedly benefit from the services of a skilled private investigator.
As I explained previously, in an effort to locate an individual there are a host of public records that can be useful, including court documents, marriage/birth/death records, criminal records, land and tax records, liens and UCC filings, corporate and business records, professional licensing records, and so forth. There is also a potential goldmine of information available through social media, if you can locate your subject’s profiles and accounts. Most if not all of these information sources you can access yourself; you simply need to devote some time and effort to the task.
A good private investigator, of course, can check all of those places as well, coast to coast and throughout the internet. But because we know where to look and what to ask for we can generally do it far more efficiently and effectively than you can. Moreover, based simply on our prior experience, our searches are going to be more thorough and more comprehensive than any search conducted by the typical layman. As with most things in life, when it comes to locates, there is just no substitute for experience.
Moreover, we have more and better tools at our disposal to get the job done quickly and right. Through our subscriptions with various information vendors, we have access to data that, while it may or may not technically be “public” in nature, it is nonetheless not readily accessible to the average citizen. This would include address information obtained from public utilities and cell phone providers. In addition, with a legitimate permissible purpose we can obtain vehicle registrations and addresses from motor vehicle departments across the nation.
Further, the best private investigators are familiar with all of the latest technology. For example, did you know that there is actually a new nationwide database that contains millions of images of vehicle license plates (and the dates, times, and places where they were spotted) that is being built out right now with data obtained from police and other public and private agencies? One hit on this database might be all it would take for us to realize that, by way of example, the missing person you are trying to locate must be staying with her friend in Topeka.
Also, when it comes to the really difficult locates, I can tell you this: it really is as much of an art as it is a science. And in that regard, a couple of my colleagues are Grand Masters! In fact, just last summer my colleague Steve faced the daunting task of finding a vagrant who had been injured in a bus crash. The subject of this investigation had no job, no home, no car, no phone, no social media, no mailing address, no bank account, no credit cards – he was completely “off the grid.” Nonetheless, some former addresses led to some people who knew the subject which eventually led to our subject himself at a campsite near a remote desert wash. Finding the location of a person who has no set location, now that really is an investigative Masterpiece!
In this series, I have explained why people typically need to be located, how you may be able to accomplish this task yourself, and what value a seasoned private investigator can bring to this equation. If you have found this information useful, please feel free to share it with friends and family. You never know who may need to locate someone and when!