Private Investigator vs. Online People Finder Websites

As private investigators, we are often asked, “Why should I hire you to investigate someone when I can search the web myself…for free?” This is a valid question, why should you call on an investigator? The internet is a vast space full of information at your fingertips. How hard could a background investigation be? Before you decide to go at it on your own, read on.

Because private investigators are licensed, they have access to Information Broker Companies which gather up-to-date data about every single person who has applied for a loan, had a cell phone, signed a lease, applied for a credit card, had a driver’s license, etc. in the United States. These companies compile the information into reports which give us birth dates, social security numbers, current and past addresses, current and past phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, possible friends and family members, criminal histories, liens, and judgments, to name a few.

Although the Information Brokers provide great information, often the information is not accurate. This can happen if, for example, a social security number is transposed or if a person has a very common name. Sometimes the Information Broker Reports cross pollinate data from two individuals with the same name.  Private investigators know how to read and interpret these reports and how to weed through bad data. We also know where to look to verify that the information identified is accurate.

Private investigators use these reports as a starting point for our investigations. Once we have established where a person has lived, we can then proceed to search public records in every state, county, and city in a person’s history and begin to gather and verify data. We know where to look to find bankruptcies, criminal cases, Deeds of Trust, anything we can legally obtain to tell a story of a person’s life. A good investigator will leave no stone unturned.

Once all information is gathered, an investigator will then compile the data into a clear, thorough report which summarizes every record found. The report then can be used with confidence to contact that lost loved one, hire that employee, win that case, and get that big settlement. The private investigator has completed all the work so that you can be sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date.

An online “background investigation” website gathers possibly up-to-date, sometimes accurate, data about people who have applied for a loan, had a cell phone, signed a lease, applied for a credit card, had a driver’s license, etc. in the United States, and spits the information out into a report filled with data. That’s it.

These websites do not do the legwork to ensure that the data they provide is correct and current, nor do they weed out bad information and verify the data is not cross-pollinated. Additionally, the online background investigation sites certainly don’t provide a clear, current, and accurate report about the subject of your investigation.

Before you request that report from or, take into consideration your end goal. If you just want to re-connect with your college buddies or find your high school sweetheart, have at it! Try your luck – it could be a fun and interesting adventure for you. However, if you believe a prospective employee may have a criminal history or you need to find heirs to an estate, your best bet is to hire a private investigator – but if you want the very best investigators, call Inter-State Investigative Services.