Using a Private Investigator to Find a Person or Witness

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.

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37 replies
  1. Starr
    Starr says:

    HI I need help finding my father I know who he is but he doesn’t know I exist . I really just want him to know that he has a daughter and I just get tired of people asking me who my dad is cause most of the time the don’t believe me because he’s famous so I was really hoping you can help me
    Thank you

  2. Allen bradley eubanks
    Allen bradley eubanks says:

    Would it be possible , to find someone with having only a first name of Percy , who was at patrick Air Force base in 1966.I know he was from tenn.the only other thing I know he drove a corvette stingray.I thought there might be a way to get a list of enlistes at that base, since Percy isn’t a common name maybe there’s a chance of finding him. Please reply, I am willing to pay for this information.

  3. berenice
    berenice says:

    Would it be difficult to find someone ,if in case they left the country? If you know the full name, date of birth, country of birth, high school name, and last known address?

  4. Robin
    Robin says:

    I’m trying to find a person in Eastern Europe. I have a first name, date of birth, city, country, email address, twitter, and some other information. Can you help?

  5. Robert
    Robert says:

    Would you be able to find someone, if I only have their first name? I know what city they live in, their race, and some travel info?

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Unlikely, given the limited information; unless the first name was very unusual.

  6. Veronica
    Veronica says:

    I want to know how much it will cost to find a parent. I have there DOB, SSN previous address, and relatives name.
    Please and thanks.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Each case is unique, so without discussing the case in more detail, it’s difficult to say how much. The best thing to do is to set up a time to discuss with us. You can either give us a call or fill in the form here

  7. Natalia
    Natalia says:

    I would like to ask if it`s possible to find a person who used a fictious name?I have his photo,is it possible to find someone by a photo only? Through airports (by biometric data) for example?And how much could it cost?
    Thank you.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      I think you have been watching too much television ;). While this technology may exist to law enforcement, this is not accessible to the general population. You can try using something like Tineye and Google Image search, but it will only match the picture you have, not through facial recognition.

  8. Casie
    Casie says:

    Hi! I’m looking for my long lost sibling. My sibling is a sister from my Dads side. A baby was born a yr (also just 2-3 months after I was born). I don’t know her name, but I know everything about my Father & his family. I will start looking when I grad. Out of high school. I just wanted to know how much it cost so I could be prepared for the future.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Without a name of the person, you have a very difficult task. Due to privacy restrictions, things like birth certificates are not available without authorization, and without a name, its even harder. Without additional details, I would say you are going to have an extremely difficult, if not impossible task.

  9. Acteur
    Acteur says:

    What are the chances of finding someone if you don’t have a last name?
    I have only a first name and minimal family, immigration (European), residence and employment info.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      It really depends on the details you have. I suggest you set up a time to discuss to see if we can help.

      • Acteur
        Acteur says:

        Per your suggestion, i would like to set up of time to discuss finding someone. Would tomorrow, 8/24/2012 between 8:30 and 10:30 CDT be available?

  10. Krista
    Krista says:

    I just found out I have a long lost brother and I just want to get information about him I know some about him but the last I heard was 11 years ago I don’t want him personally found just information how much would that run me

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      It really depends on how much information you want to know. I suggest you giving us a call to discuss in more detail and we can give you a better sense as to how much it would cost.

  11. Elodia carrillo
    Elodia carrillo says:

    Hello I wanted to know how much will coast me to fine my real dad I only have his name and date of birth. I don’t have much or know much about him I was too young when my parents got separated.

  12. Kayla
    Kayla says:

    I met someone online and lost contact with him. I have his whole name, birth month, age, languages he knows, where he was born, where he has been, some family roots, and some family history he shared with me. I’m desperate to find him but I would like to know how much it would cost. Please help….

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Thanks for the comment KaylaBeth. We would be happy to discuss this with you. Please call or email us at info @ diligentiagroup.com

    THAO NGUYEN says:


    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Thanks for the comment Thao. We would be happy to discuss this with you. Please call or email us at info @ diligentiagroup.com

  14. Chata
    Chata says:

    Hi I’m looking for my best friend I haven’t seen her in two years i know she’s in San Jose california I hAve her previous address her birthday her full name and her baby’s name and date of birth I Also know her two brothers names how much would it cost me to find her?

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      The best thing to do is to give us a call to discuss in more detail. We look forward to hearing from you.

  15. lew
    lew says:

    How much will it cost to find 2 people? They are both in their 70s. I only have their madien names and schools? thanks, Lew

  16. kaylin mcginness
    kaylin mcginness says:

    hi, im kaylin an i would like to find my biological dad. the information me an my mom have on him is he lived in milwaukee, Wisconsin an Charleston, Illinois also Paris, Illinois. and his birthdate the places he went to jail at, and his social security and drivers licence number, 2 criminal files, coles county and edgar county files. i was wondering how much it would cost? please i need help finding him we have been searching for him for 2 years now, i never met him before. im jus 15 an would like to have him in my life before its too late.

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I am trying to look for a half brother whom we’ve never met before. We don’t have much info just his name, his mother’s name and the city name where they lived 35 yrs ago. I want to know how much it will cost to find him.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Without knowing any additional details, it’s difficult to say how much it would cost, but we’d be happy to discuss with you.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] There are many resources that you can utilize to find someone on the Internet. Of course, if all of your efforts have hit a dead end, your last resort may be to hire a private investigator to find a person or a witness. […]

  2. […] matter expertise relating to the situation at hand. If the investigation calls for surveillance, finding a witness, intelligence gathering, due diligence investigation, comprehensive background […]

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