Whatever reason you have for trying to find a person or witness – whether it’s part of litigation, a long lost relative, birth parents or a key witness – retaining a private investigator is probably your last resort.
You’ve probably taken it as far as you can; you’ve “googled” everything you can think of but you’ve hit nothing but dead ends and are desperate to find this person or witness, no matter what it takes.
Google is everything, but not the only thing
We love Google – it’s one of the most important tools in our business, but because you can’t find it on Google, doesn’t mean it can’t be found.
We’ve talked quite a bit on this website about how powerful Google is; but Google is not everything, and in some cases it gives people a false sense that there is nothing out there.
Well, did you know that Google has less than 1% of the web indexed? Think about that next time you don’t find something on Google.
What information should you provide the private investigator?
Every piece of information is important, no matter how small you may think it is.
Where the person’s family is from, middle name, sibling’s name, friend’s name, neighborhood they grew up in, month/day of birth, school name, college name, former employer, or address from 40 years ago may all be valuable pieces of information when trying to find someone.
The fact of the matter is, you never know what that one critical piece of information could be.
Stick with the facts
While information you heard through a friend of a friend of a friend may come in to play, it’s important to recognize fact from fiction.
Because you heard that someone may have moved to Charleston, South Carolina does not make it fact.
You could end up wasting valuable time and money chasing down avenues that are not relevant.
What’s the best approach?
From our perspective, the most effective way to tackle this is to use all of the information gathered in the initial consultation to conduct exhaustive searches through investigative databases.
Investigative databases are much more powerful than consumer level databases (and Google searches for that matter) and are an effective and cost efficient way of finding a person or witness.
Advances in investigative databases give investigators a wide array of open source records, as well as information gathered from credit agencies, proprietary sources and even social networks to identity the whereabouts of a person.
If the person still has not been found, information identified through the first phase of the investigative research can help to identify information that can be helpful in the second phase, which may include interviews with former neighbors, friends, colleagues, spouses, etc.
Ultimately, it may require visiting old neighborhoods, employers or digging through archived records at a local library; the reality is that every case is different depending on the circumstances, and how badly you want to find the person.
How much does it cost?
It’s safe to say that by the time a private investigator has received a request to find the person, it’s not going to be as easy as checking the phonebook or “googling” the person’s name. It’s safe to assume that every possible avenue has been exhausted by the time it’s landed in a private investigators hands.
Based on that, it can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars, to thousands of dollars for extremely difficult to find witnesses or people that don’t necessarily want to be found.
One final thought – the less information that you start with, more likely than not, the more expensive it will be.
If you want to get a better idea on the cost, visit our post: How Much Does It Cost To Find a Person.