Where Did He (or she) Go?!!
These days there seems to be a false assumption that anything, including people, can be found on the computer. Or more specifically, the internet. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. if so, we wouldn’t need p.i.’s for that, anyone could just fire up the computer, punch a name in, and voila, person found. There are different types of missing persons, or skips as they are sometimes called.
One type is the person that has just lost contact over the years through moving, change of employment, family, moving out of the area, etc. If you are going to find anybody from online databases, it would possibly be them. They are not hiding, they just got lost in the shuffle. These are the easiest locates to do, compared to to other types of skips.
The other type of skip is the person that is truly hiding from someone, or something, however that may be. These can be the tough ones, especially if they’re street smart and have done this before. There are people out there that have been hiding from one thing or another their whole life, so they are practically pros at doing this. They know how to stay off the radar so their information won’t pop up somewhere.
This guide will give you some ideas on how to track down that elusive person that is hiding from you for one reason or another. If you take these basic ideas and philosophies and build on them from there, you will develop your own ideas that will work for you personally. I will put you on the right track, but if you want to get really good at this, you need to develop your own systems. First of all, you have to have the mindset that you are not going to give up. The biggest killer in solving cases, locate or otherwise, is giving up too soon. Are there some cases that will never be solved, or people that won’t be found? Yes, that’s life. Nobody can perfectly solve everything, it just doesn’t happen. However, most people can be found with enough work and patience. You may have to turn over every rock, look in every nook and cranny, but it can be done.
Okay, let’s start by dispelling some myths about finding people.
You can find anybody these days online.. No, you can’t. Let me qualify that. Some people can be found online. Those who are not hiding can sometimes be found in some online database or public record. Those who have no reason to hide can usually be found without too much effort if you know where to look. However, those that want to keep a low profile and “fly under the radar” are not as easy. You will have to do some actual work in order to locate them. They have a reason and motivation not to be found, usually because somebody or some organization is trying to find them. There could be a number of reasons that someone doesn’t want to be found: They are on the run from the law, they have some type of collateral they haven’t paid for, hiding from a spouse or ex-spouse, child support, you get the idea. Many of those types of “skips”, as we’ll refer to them, will not be found from some online or public record. Many of these type of skips may be dumb as a box of rocks, but they develop incredible talents for staying hidden. You just have to outsmart them.
People have a right to their privacy, you should leave them alone.. Normally I agree, people do have a right to their privacy. However, the people that I go out to locate are being searched out for good reason. They legally owe for property that they haven’t returned, they are hiding from a large obligation, etc. There are a ton of good reason to track someone down, and I am careful not to put people in potentially dangerous situations. For example, If I am ever asked to find “an old friend”, I always let the client know that I will give the person I’m looking for their (the client’s) info and let them contact the client, or I will get the target’s permission to give the client their contact info. As long as you follow simple guidelines, you can keep yourself and other people out of trouble. The last thing I want to do is to be responsible for someone getting hurt.
It’s not that hard to find someone, just call a few of their friends or family.. Like most myths, there is some truth to that, and some falsehood in it. Yes, I find a lot of people by talking to friends and relatives of the skip, but it’s not usually that easy. You have to be able to convince people to give up information without them getting curious, or suspicious. People have a great built in BS detector, and if you activate it, the conversation is over and good luck getting any info out of them.
You need law enforcement experience to be a good P.I. and to be able to locate people.. Not at all. I’m not saying that it doesn’t help, but you don’t need it. Some of the best in the business have never had any law enforcement experience, yet they are excellent at finding people. You have to have a desire for it, a real passion, otherwise it’s too easy to give up when it gets tough. Law enforcement have access to databases p.i.’s don’t, but they are rarely any more helpful than databases that a p.i. has. Like I already mentioned, databases don’t find people, they just help.
10 Things You Can Do Yourself to Find a Missing Person
The art of tracking somebody down, or “Skip Tracing” as it is called, is both an art and a science. There are a few different kinds of missing persons, with varying degrees of difficulty in finding them. The first type of missing person is where the person has just lost contact and moved. These are the easiest missing persons to find. They’re the ones who just move to a different place, but are not hiding from anyone for any particular reason. The next type of missing person is what we call in the business a “skip”. This is the person that is purposefully hiding from something: legal trouble, creditors, etc. These missing persons can range from easy to downright difficult in locating them. Some have been doing it most of their adult life, and can be professionals at hiding. The last type of missing person I will mention is the most difficult to find, and that is the missing person where there is some sort of malfeasance involved. Many times these are the tragic cases involving kidnapping of children and cases like this. These, of course, are extremely difficult, and usually involve law enforcement agencies. Okay, let’s get down to it. Following are 10 things you can do yourself to find a missing person, or “skip” as they are called. These are pretty simple things that anyone can do to find someone. These steps are by no means comprehensive, and probably will not be enough to find the really tough ones, but I always like to try the simple things first:
1. Use directory assistance and the online phone book.
I know it sounds obvious, but always try the simple things first. I can’t tell you how many times that has saved me a lot of effort. Many times people aren’t hiding, you just need to check for them. Of course this will not work for somebody who’s really hiding , but it’s worth a try.
2. Check for any special memberships in clubs, unions, groups, etc
A person can change most things about their identity, but they can’t change their “behavioral fingerprint”. That is a person’s interest, hobbies, etc. Those things almost never change about a person. Find out the kind of things that your skip likes to do. What hobbies do they have, or what they like to collect?
3. Call known friends and relatives to try to find out where the subject is
Many times they will not be cooperative, but it is a good source to try. There are different ways to get information out of people, just use your imagination. Try to let their friends or relatives know that you’re trying to help the skip in some way. You will find people will be very helpful if you think you’re trying to help them.
4. Pretext different sources for information
Pretexting is basically misleading people to get information you need. There are many different ways to do this, and you have to be careful to stay within the law. Also, it is not easy to do if you aren’t used to using this technique. You have to be quick on your feet. You have to adapt to the situation quickly when you’re talking to somebody if you only get information out of them.
5. Public databases
Voter registration records, property ownership records, state and county recorded documents can be good sources of information. That being said, you’re very unlikely to find someone that’s really hiding off of public records, but it can be a good place to start.
6. Check with the skip tracing departments of other companies
Many companies out there will share information with other creditors to help find someone. Others will not, but it’s worth trying. More often than not this will not help you, but you have to try everything you can think of when you’re looking for somebody.
7. Sending out mail with “Do not forward, address correction requested”
If the post office has a forwarding address for the subject, this is one way to get it. This is a good tactic to use when you’re looking for a long-lost friend that may not be hiding, but you lost track of them.
8. Checking employment transfers
If the subject you’re looking for is with the same company, but was transferred, sometimes you can find out the new area of the country they might have been transferred to.
9. Using professional organizations
If the missing person you’re looking for is a professional of some sort, there is usually a directory for it. The best source would be to call or check the internet as those are usually updated more frequently.
10. The last thing I want to mention is not necessarily a specific technique, but it is worth mentioning. Here it is: put yourself in their shoes
Think what an average person has to do everyday to live. They have to eat, sleep somewhere (most people), buy things, eventually work at something, legal or not. Just remember that everybody has to live and survive, and they always leave some kind of trail.
Okay, now on with the program. Like I always like to mention, I like to do the simple stuff first. It’s surprising how many times I have found someone just from doing the simple things. That’s how life is, and we seem to make it complicated. I like the KISS acronym: Keep It Simple Stupid. That says it all, don’t make it harder than it has to be.
Pretexting is probably the best weapon in a skip tracers arsenal. When you’re looking for someone that doesn’t want to be found, you’re going to have to get information from other people that will lead you to your skip, that’s all there is to it. Pretexting is define as “An effort or strategy intended to conceal something.” Or “a fictitious reason given in order to conceal the real one.” So basically, a pretext is a lie. Law enforcement on all levels uses this technique continually, not just private investigators and skip tracers. Chances are, very good chances, is that the person that’s being investigated, tracked down, or whatever is being done, is not a model citizen. Our world is plagued with dirt bag con men, thieves, robbers, etc. The only way to beat these pigs is to get your hands dirty and roll around in the mud. That is too much for most people, and that’s okay. Even a lot of p.i.’s don’t like to do that, they just like to do their surveillance, or background work, or something else that may not require a lot of personal contact, and that’s okay too. Everybody has their own area of expertise that they like to stay in. Some of the most important aspects of pretexting to get information are misdirection, and appearing harmless. The second you try to be demanding, in most instances, people’s radar goes off and they’re pretty much done talking. Once you hit that wall, you’re done in that conversation. You have to come across as needing some help with something you’re not good or smart enough to get yourself. That doesn’t mean you want to come across as dumb or incompetent, maybe just a little ignorant. Ignorance isn’t stupidity, it’s just a lack of knowledge on a subject. Most people are wiling to help a little if it involves showing off their knowledge. Get them to actually like you, at least a little, and you can get the info you want.
Misdirection involves getting the person you’re talking to to think about one thing, while your agenda is another. For example, you may want to convince a relative that you have a job offer for your skip, when in fact you’re trying to locate them because they defaulted on a $500,000 piece of construction equipment and didn’t give it back. If you can convince someone that you’re truly trying to help them, or someone they know, you can usually make a friend and get some good info. I look at it as a game, and it’s really pretty fun. Another important fact about pretexting people, whether on the phone or in person, is that you don’t want to give them time to think about what they are telling you. In other words, you need to be and sound confident without rushing. They need to roll off with the information that you want, without giving them time to quiz you too much about it. If you talk to much to them, especially after getting the information, you can arouse suspicion and sabotage your cause. In the business world this is “Talking Your Prospect Out Of The Sale.” Get in and get out, and they will forget you were even there. When you’re spinning your story to someone, you need to sound like you believe it yourself. Any hesitation will blow your cover, and blow your efforts. I like to remember a Seinfeld episode where his friend George is telling Jerry how to beat a polygraph. I love the line “Remember, if you believe it, it’s not a lie.” That’s how convincing you have to be, you have to sound so natural that it just flows. Even the dimmest bulbs out there have a b.s. detector, so you have beat that if you want to get some good info. You have to experiment with pretexts and find the ones that work for you. All you are doing is pretending to be someone else for a short time. Don’t break the law and pretend to be law enforcement, but you can be creative.
They won’t all work, and even the best of us don’t get what we want. If you find a conversation is not going anywhere, or is going south, get out quick. That’s the only way to salvage it, just get out quickly and gracefully, and they’ll forget about you. If you have the fortitude to do this, just keep trying until you find what works for you. Using pretexts, and polishing your skills in using them, will help you find more people than all the public records and fancy databases will ever get you. That’s how important these verbal skills are if you want to find those difficult people. Now, I understand that you may have a problem dealing with having to lie to people to get information. I’m an honest person, but I will lie like a rug to get information I need when I have to track someone down. Law enforcement does it to solve crimes, and I do it to solve cases, and I don’t feel guilty about it. You would not want to represent yourself as law enforcement, or any other official capacity, but you can sure pretend to be somebody else when you’re doing this. It takes practice, and a certain amount of fortitude, but you can do it. You just have to remember to sound natural, and to end the conversation as soon as you feel that the other person is suspicious, either in person or on the phone. I enjoy coming up with new pretexts to fool people. Some work forever, some only work for a while before you have to revise them. I cannot say enough good things about using pre-texting. Without a doubt, it can be tough to do. You have to be prepared to think on your feet, and change her story to make it believable when you’re talking to somebody. Most of the time you only have one chance to convince the person you’re talking to to give you your much needed information. If you mess up, the person will get suspicious and will clam up immediately. You don’t want that to happen. Try to talk as little as possible, but get your subject talk as much as you can. Once you get them to start speaking, information will usually flow and you’ll find out things that you never would’ve gotten anywhere else.
Somebody can change the way they look. The color of their hair, the size of their body, their clothes, and even the color of their eyes (at least artificially). There is one thing they cannot change, their behavioral fingerprints. Behavioral fingerprints are those character traits that usually cannot be changed. If someone likes fishing, flying, comic books, playing in local bands, etc. You get the picture, there just some parts of you that you can’t easily get rid of. When you’re trying to find someone, whether you just lost touch with them, or they are off the radar hiding deep, their basic character will stay the same. Do a lot of research on the subject and find out their likes, dislikes, habits, type of friends, family, etc. If you ask around enough, it’s amazing what you can find out. Build a profile on him, and you’ll begin to understand how he thinks and acts. This may sound funny, but it works. It takes time, and a lot of people won’t do it, and that’s why a lot of people fail. Here’s an example from a real p.i. I wish I can take credit for this, but I can’t. So this p.i. was after a man who put up a New York City apartment for a loan, but the residence was not his. The owners were out of town, so he used it for collateral on a very large loan. How this happened is beyond me, but it still happens today in the computer age. Anyway, this guy was really slick at staying under the radar (not having normal things in his name). Upon further investigation it was discovered that he like comic books, especially the justice league comics. The p.i. put out an ad in the area that he had some type of first edition of this comic. he let the calls go to voicemail, and by listening to the messages with someone from the bank that knew him, they determined which caller was the suspect. When they set up a meeting to buy the comic, he was met by detectives and arrested. They found out he was living under a false name of a relative that died recently and was near his age. It would have taken a long time for him to pop up on the radar under his own name. That’s just one example of using someones singularities to track them down. We all have them whether we admit it or not, which is what makes us unique. We all have habits, or things we like to do that is unique to us. Just dig up enough information on someone, talk to enough people, and you won’t be disappointed. Remember, you’re not using this information to stalk a law abiding citizen, you’re going after the pigs of society. People that have no conscience about ripping someone off, not caring who they hurt in the process. I have no remorse whatsoever about tracking these vermin down. In fact, I enjoy it, it’s a game to me. They may be smart, but if you roll around in the proverbial mud enough, you’ll find their hot button. For example, your target may be a pilot. That means that either flies for living, for he flies for pleasure. That information is golden. If you dig enough, you can see how often he flies, and where he flies out of. Then it’s just a matter of coming up with a good pretext to find out where he’s living. Maybe you can pretend that you are from some sort of aeronautical company. Maybe you offer him some type of pilot job. Use your imagination, to say within his area of interest and you will somehow hit his hot button. Put Your Feet On
Part of “getting your hands dirty” is old fashioned work. It’s amazing how lucky you can get when you put a lot of effort into something. Whether it’s pounding away on the phones, or visiting several places to talk to people, it takes work. A lot can be done by working the phone angle. You can talk to a lot of people without having to get out, but sometimes it takes more. Sometimes you have to wear out some shoe leather to get the information you want. A P.I. I know coined the phrase “Neighborhood Survey”. This isn’t the type of consumer survey that you may be thinking of, this is just called that because you are trying to get information, similar to what a consumer survey tries to accomplish. You can develop more good intel on someone by knocking on a lot of doors than any amount of documentary evidence will give you, every time. You can research someone’s background for hours, even days, and have a stack of information on someone. However, until you start talking to people and asking around to find out someone’s character, habits, and so on, you truly are lacking some good info on your target. Let’s say you’re l looking for someone to serve court papers on a huge lawsuit. He disappeared, and you tried everything you can think of to find him. The family’s no help, his friend’s don’t know anything, and he moved out of his office space he was in with no forwarding address. His landline and cell numbers are disconnected. Now it’s time to get some exercise. You go to his neighborhood and start knocking on doors. Most people, including investigators, will not do this, that’s what will set you apart. So you knock on all the doors on his street and find about half of the people at home. You may or may not learn any new information yet, so you may have to hit the street again to catch more of the people at home. If you stick it out, you will find some information that you would not have found out any other way. in every neighborhood that I’ve been in, there always seems to be some busybody they’ll be glad to give you some ”dirt” on the subject that will lead you to that elusive skip. Nothing takes the place of getting your hands dirty. You can spend all day researching information on someone, but you will learn more by being proactive. When you are proactive, you are taking action to make things happen, instead of waiting for things to happen to you. Thomas Edison said that opportunity evades most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Don’t do what everybody else is doing, be different. Think Like Your Target One important thing to keep in mind when you are doing this is to remember that everybody has to exist, they have to live. In other words, think what you have to do in your everyday life that you don’t even notice. You may do it unconsciously because you’re not hiding from anybody, not so for your target. No matter how hidden someone is, they still have to eat, drink, sleep, work (usually), and breathe. Everything someone does leaves a trace, even if it’s a tiny trace, it’s still a trail you can pick up on. Remember, the smallest thread of information leads to more information leads to success! Try this exercise and it will open your eyes. Take a day, or even a few days, and make note of everything you do in your everyday life. Most things you do are so repetitious, you won’t even think about it, but take note. You will be very surprised in all the things you do that leave some type of trail. Did you buy gas or groceries? If you did, chances are you used some sort of bank card. Did you talk to any friends or coworkers? Probably yes. You may not even think about those mundane tasks, but you leave at least a whisper of a trail everywhere you go. These are the type of things you have to think about when you’re trying to find someone. This is where knowing a little bit about someone’s habits comes in handy. The more personal info you know about them, the easier it is to try to predict their daily life. Do they go to the gym regularly? Do they like to go out to clubs, or pound down brews at a local watering hole? Attend sports games? You can find out this type of info from asking around, and that will help you narrow down your search. The more you narrow down a search, the more you exhaust every possibility, you cannot help but find someone. Many times finding somebody is a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the luckier you get.
What Kind Of Cases Involve Tracking People Down?
Actually more than you can imagine. At first glance, you may think this kind of investigative only has to do with locating someone that doesn’t want to be found, but it’s a lot more than that. For example, let’s say a group of investors are about to invest millions of dollars with a company or individual,and they want to be sure that the person or organization isn’t looking to scam them. Well, skip skills are written all over this. You may not be looking for someone hiding, but you are going to work backwards and find out where he lived, who he did business with, if he cheated anybody, etc. Finding a person, assets, past business deals, etc. is all a type of skip and locate work. It’s all tracking someone or something down, and it uses the same set of skills. Another example. If a business owner is short on inventory consistently, he needs to find out if he has employee theft going on. I would check out all employees, find their hangouts, what items they own, where they shop, new purchases and bank accounts that don’t match their salary. Yes, other investigative skills come into play, such as surveillance and checking documents, but again you would be tracking down people and assets just like any other skip investigation. So you see, having skill in finding people spill over into many different categories within private investigations. It is a skill that would serve you well if you develop it. Getting information from people is an irreplaceable skill that is necessary to find someone or something. Remember, no man (or woman) is an island. You have to depend on other people to help you out in finding someone, whether they know it or not. Nobody is successful in any endeavor without interaction with other people. Be Bold When you are willing to do what others won’t do, you will get results that nobody else will get. Be willing to do things that make you nervous, it will open doors that otherwise wouldn’t be there. It really can be fun. There’s not much else than the satisfaction of finding some dirtbag who doesn’t want to be found. Remember to come up with your own ideas that will work best for you. Everyone has their own personality, so find the techniques that work best for you. Please, whatever else you may or may not remember from reading this, remember that databases do not find people! They can help you, but they cannot do the real work for you. The salespeople for these companies will try to tell you differently, but those are the facts. Like any activity in life, it can be scary at first to try new techniques. But, after you do try it, the fear is gone, and it’s easier to do the next time. OK, now reach out and touch someone. Remember, everyone is somewhere...