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How California Private Investigators Find People and How You Can Try Too

Hiring a private investigator is often the last resort for finding a missing person. If you have tried all other methods and still haven't had any luck, it may be time to bring in professional help.

Detective connecting information on the wall
Private investigators connect the dots when looking for people

When someone you love goes missing, or you are in search of an old friend, or looking for a witness to an incident, it is natural to want to do whatever you can to find them yourself. This can be an incredibly difficult task, especially if the person has gone off the grid or traveled out of state, or is couch surfing. Fortunately, there are California private investigators who have the skills and experience necessary to locate people you need to legally find. In this blog post, we will discuss how private investigators use skiptrace methods to find people.

What is Skiptracing?

Skiptrace is a term used to describe the process of locating a person's whereabouts by tracing their financial or electronic footprints. Skiptrace methods can be used to find missing persons, fugitives, and debtors.

Private investigators often use skiptrace techniques to locate missing persons and runaway children. There are a number of ways to conduct a skiptrace. Investigators may start with a simple internet search, or they may use more sophisticated methods such as combing through financial records or tracking down phone numbers.

In some cases, investigators may need to travel to another state or country to find the person they are looking for.

How does the FBI Find Someone?

The FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) maintains the largest investigative database of major violent crimes in the U.S.

In order to assist local law enforcement agencies in solving cases, ViCAP analysts enter information about murders, missing persons, unidentified remains, and other violent crimes into a centralized database. If detectives enter enough information about their cases—such as the victim’s gender, race, approximate age; the type of weapon used; and the location where the body was found—the system can generate a list of similar cases from around the country.

When the FBI get enough information about cases they can connect the dots and begin to piece a case together and connect people to crimes.

Private investigators use some of the same data sources that the FBI also subscribes to. However, the FBI has resources and legal authority in more areas than a private investigator and can obtain subpoenas and warrants to get get data and information from phone companies, banks, the IRS, local law enforcement and more.

How Do the Police Find People?

Police use a variety of methods to find missing persons. There are three primary types of searches:

Area Physical Search

The police will canvas the area where the person was last seen and hand out missing person flyers. They will also check with local businesses to see if there is any surveillance footage that could be helpful. In addition local law enforcement will cnavas from door to door, especially during a missing person case.

Database Search

The police will check databases such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS). In addition, local police and Sheriff’s departments have some of the same data access private investigators have. They are also approved to use use proprietary data sources to aid them in their investigation.

Social Media Search

The police will search social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They may also set up a dedicated website for the missing person.

How Do The United States Marshals Locate Fugitives?

The United States Marshals Service is the oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency in the country. Among its many responsibilities, the USMS is tasked with locating and apprehending federal fugitives. How do they go about doing this? Let's take a closer look.

When a fugitive is identified, the USMS gets involved and begins the process of tracking them down. They will first look into the fugitive's family, friends, and known associates to try to find out where they might be hiding.

If the fugitive is believed to have left the country, the USMS will work with Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies to try to locate and apprehend them.

In some cases, the USMS will offer a reward for information leading to the capture of a fugitive.

The USMS uses a variety of resources and techniques to locate fugitives, including:

● Conducting surveillance

● Working with informants

● Using technology, such as GPS tracking devices and cell phone tracking.

How Private Investigators Find Missing Persons?

Private investigators use many of the same methods as the police to find missing persons. In addition to conducting area, database, and social media searches, private investigators may also:

Check Public Records

Private investigators often use public records to find people. They may search through databases such as the Social Security Administration's Death Master File or the Department of Motor Vehicles' driver's license database (should they be allowed access). If the person was recently arrested or if they have a criminal record, the private investigator may also search through state and federal criminal records databases.

Search For Vital Records

Private investigators may also search for vital records, such as birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses. This can be helpful in finding someone who has changed their name or if you need to confirm the identity of the person you are looking for.

Talk to Witnesses and Family Members

Private investigators may talk to witnesses and family members to try to find out more about the missing person.

Talk to Associates

Private investigators look for people who are closest to the subject and investigate their relationships. Because they often know your target's whereabouts, interviewing friends, family, and co-workers should be one of your first steps in any missing person investigation.

Utilize Databases and Online Tools

Private investigators have access to many databases and online tools that can help them find missing persons. These tools can include skiptracing services, which can be used to find a person's current address, phone number, and employer. Private investigators may also have access to phone subscriber data.

Run Background Checks

Run background checks can be defined as a process of looking up and compiling criminal, financial, and public records of an individual or business. Running background checks is one way private investigators can locate people.

Background checks can help private investigators to find out:

● If the person has a criminal record

● Where the person has lived in the past

● Who the person's family members are

● If the person has a history of skipping out on bills or rent

● What the person's job history is

● If the person has been involved in any civil lawsuits

How Surveillance Can Help in a Person Locate?

Surveillance is the monitoring of behavior, activities, or other changing information for the purpose of understanding the identity, conduct and behavior of the subject. It is done in a variety of ways, such as:

1. By observing directly

2. By ensuring the data has provided correct information

3. Obtaining positive identificati

Surveillance can be used to help locate missing persons by:

● Allowing investigators to see the missing person's daily routines and habits

● Helping to identify the missing person's associates and friends

● Giving investigators a better understanding of the missing person's lifestyle

● Leads investigators to new locations or areas where the missing person may be hiding

● Monitoring electronic communications, such as emails, phone calls, and text messages

How to Locate Someone Online Yourself

Most people start with Google when they attempt to find a person. Facebook is also a common, and should be consulted resource as well. This is nearly everyone's starting point and most everyone will spend hours on their computers or mobile devices pecking away. Sometimes this works!

Another option is to check those cheap databases online. You know the ones—WeFindAnyone sites that tells you they are about to spill the beans on the person you are looking for. Generally speaking, those sites are full of inaccuracies as they scrape the internet for information and do not have access to Permissible Purpose data like a private investigator can access.

Here are some tips for conducting a successful online investigation as a junior sleuth:

First, start with what you know:

The more information you have to start with, the better. Try to gather as much information about the person you are looking for as possible. This can include their-

● Full name

● Date of birth

● Social Security number (not usually for online sources)

● Address history

● Employment history

● Phone number

● Email address

● Any aliases they may use

Second, create a timeline:

Once you have gathered all of the information you can about the person you are looking for, you will need to create a timeline of their life. This will help you to identify any gaps in their history that you can then focus your search on.

For any changes in their behavior or lifestyle that may have occurred around the time that you lost track of great uncle Joe. This can help you to narrow down your search and focus on specific areas.

Third, use public records:

Public records are a great resource for conducting an online investigation. They can provide you with information about a person's criminal history, employment history, addresses, and more.

Some public records you can use to find missing persons include:

● Court records

● Property records

● Vital records

● Police reports

● Fourth, search social media

Fourth, Scour Social Media:

Social media is another great resource for conducting an online investigation. Many people post their entire lives on social media, which can provide you with a wealth of information.

You can use social media to:

● Find out where the person is from

● See if the person has any connections to other missing person cases

● Identify any friends or associates of the person

● Look for any changes in the person's behavior or lifestyle

Fifth, Hire a Professional:

If you have tried all of these methods and still cannot find the person you are looking for, you may need to hire a professional. Private investigators can use their resources and experience to help locate missing persons.

When You Should Hire a Private Investigator

If you failed in every method to locate your missing person then you should consider hiring a professional investigator. And if you have the following things then it would be easier for the investigator to locate your missing person.

What Should You Look For When Hiring a Private Investigator

There are many private investigators out there, but not all of them are created equal. When you are looking for a private investigator to help with your case, there are a few things you should look for a Private Investigator-

● Who is licensed and insured

● With experience in missing person cases

● Who is willing to work with you to find the missing person

● Who has a solid plan for conducting the investigation

● Has the capability to use the latest technology

● Conducts regular training

Mainly these are the things which you should consider before hiring a private investigator for finding people.

The Issues a Private Investigator Must Address?

When hiring a private investigator, be sure to discuss:

Scope of the Investigation

The scope of the investigation will depend on the amount of information you have to start with and the resources available to you. If you have a limited amount of information, your search may be more focused on social media and public records.


Of course, you will need to discuss your budget with the investigator. Many private investigators work on a retainer basis, which means you will pay them a certain amount up front and then an hourly rate for their services.


You should also discuss the timeline for the investigation with the investigator. This will help you to set expectations and ensure that the investigator is working as efficiently as possible.

Your Expectations

You should discuss your expectations with the investigator. This will help to ensure that you are both on the same page and that the investigator is doing everything possible to find the missing person.


Finally, you should discuss the methods that the investigator will use to conduct the investigation. This will help you to understand how the investigator plans to find the missing person and what resources they will use.

The Risks Of Conducting Your Own Private Investigation

Conducting an online investigation can be risky. You may come across false information or end up in a dangerous situation. It is important to be aware of the risks before you begin your search.

Some of the risks associated with conducting an online investigation include:

● Come across false information

● End up in a dangerous situation

● Not find the person you are looking for

● Waste a lot of time and money

● Not careful, you could end up violating the law

These are some of the risks which you may face during your junior online sleuthing investigation.


To sum up this guide to what goes into finding people, it's clear that if you have tried all the methods and still have not found the person then you should go for hiring a private investigator. And while hiring an investigator, you should look for some factors like- who is licensed, insured, and has experience in conducting missing person cases, finding skips, locating witnesses and deadbeat parents. You should also discuss the scope of investigation, budget, timeline, and expectations with the investigator. Moreover, one should also be aware of the risks of conducting an online investigation.

We hope that the information in this article will assist you in locating a person. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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