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Private Investigator Trade Secrets: Conducting A Background Investigation

As a private investigator I received 13 requests for my services last week, and six of them were for help locating a missing person. It sounds crazy, but it happens. Family members, ex-spouses, friends, children, and parents can all fall out of touch with each other. Then suddenly something happens, and you desperately need to get a hold of these people. Too often these days, close friends and loved ones are abducted or kidnapped. Then not only do you need to find the person, but time is of the essence while you search.

What do you do? Where do you start?

In this article, I am going to give you some information on how you can locate the missing person you seek.


First, if this is a real missing person and not just a long-lost friend you are looking for, declare the person as missing as soon as possible. There are many records and files of missing people that are filed every year. Once someone appears on a list of lost and missing persons they are posted in various places where others who might be looking and might come across your person. If someone that knows the person comes across their picture while browsing a list of lost and missing persons, then they will know to contact you.

Hire a Private Investigator

Of course, the first option I suggest is to hire someone like myself, a trained and seasoned Private Investigator who knows what he is doing. I am a skilled professional, and I have special tools and tactics that I use to determine the location of missing or abducted people. Some of these investigative tools are not available to the general public, so you may want to start with a private investigator if you have no time to lose in finding your missing person. When time is crucial, it’s always best to consult an experienced, trained professional for the best possible results.

Gather your information.

If time is not of the essence and you decide to save money and do it yourself, the first step is to gather all the information you can about the missing person. You need to find out the last place you or someone else saw the person or last known address. If you are tracking down long-lost friends or family members, try to find out where they went to school, who their friends were, where they worked and even if they got married. Things that may seem like small details can be used to provide much-needed insight into bringing the missing person back home or back into your life.

Think about some places where this missing person might be. Might he or she still live just across town or is he outside of the country? Try to recall when and where was your last contact with or communication from this person.

When searching for people you have not spoken to for a very long time, don’t overlook the obvious. Look in a phone book first, or online directory, or just ask people you both used to know with whom you may still be in contact. Local municipal libraries usually have out of state phone books that you can use for research or local phone companies may have them. Sometimes it takes just that simple effort to find the person you are looking for.

Search on the Internet

The Internet is an amazing creation. There is so much information on it that you can’t even begin to imagine the research power you have at your fingertips. Some websites give information on many individuals, sometimes more private information than any of us would like. I did a separate article on how to conduct online searches. You may even find your missing person on one of the many social networking websites.

People can’t seem to resist talking about their lives over the internet! I recently found a person I was stationed with over 20 years ago by merely asking about him in a Facebook group. Another member was able to give me his address and phone number (rather scary because I could have been a hit man or something.) You just have to be patient and sort through the many hits you may get when you type in the missing person’s name.

Other Options

  • Ask friends and relatives of the lost person you are searching for if they have an idea where they may have gone.
  • Check with former employers and people that they worked with.
  • Look in the area phone book where they used to live and places they may have gone.
  • Check with the local sheriff’s office or police for any record of arrests, tickets, or warrants or any criminal records. Sometimes there is a fee for this.
  • Go to the local courthouse to get information about marriages, divorces, deaths, real estate records and any other information that may be available about this lost person.
  • Talk to the local mail carrier at a former address of the person; they may have turned in a change of address.
  • If you know whether they had a car and the make, model, year and color you may be able to get information from the local DMV office.
  • If you have a previous phone bill, especially a cell phone bill, it can show who the missing person last spoke to. Calling that number or numbers may give you information where they may have gone.

These are some of the ways you can search for a missing person. Don’t give up hope. Be persistent, and you will find your missing person. I hope you never have to use this information. But if you do, hopefully, these steps will help you with your search.

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