If you are reading this blog, then you have apparently lost touch with someone that you find important enough that you need to locate. It can be for many reasons, such as lost love, a deadbeat tenant, an old client that won their case, etc. (for more examples, see our 50th blog titled “What is the cost to find someone in Queens or Brooklyn”).
Often when working on a missing person case, we are asked what we do in order to locate someone. It depends directly on the information that we are given to start with. While we do not expect you to have all of the following, these are some of the factors that make the odds of locating someone much better, and in turn, less expensive:
- The person’s full name
- The person’s date of birth
- The person’s social security number
- The person’s last known address
- The person’s most recent phone number
- The person’s most actively used email address
- The person’s driver’s license number
- The vehicle and plate number that the person has most recently
- Recent photos of the person
- The place of business or location of their most recently known employment
- Names of parents/close relatives
- Addresses of parents/close relatives
- Schools they attended
- Any professional licenses (such as Plumber, Lawyer, Nurse, etc.)
Every search is different. Not every search needs every piece of the above information, but the more boxes you check off on this list, the more it most definitely helps. The key is to make sure the information that you have is as recent as possible. The older the information, the harder it is to get to the current information – in some cases. However, it is still a starting point. So, no piece of information is unimportant when it comes to the above items. It helps when we are going through the data history – especially when it is from the past. We once had to find someone in Mill Basin from 20 years ago with a common name. When we researched the data, we came across a person that had moved several times and one of the old addresses matched the address that the client provided. So, we knew we had the correct person and focused on him. This led to locating him in Red Hook. Finding someone from high school when you are in your 50s on up can be a challenge, especially if it is a woman that you are looking for since there is the potential that they could have married and changed their name. When you knew Mary Smith in Park Slope back in high school you may have no idea that she married John Jones five years later and lives in Manhattan Beach now. A great many factors make it more of a challenge the more time passes. However, we have handled (with success) many challenging cases over our 30+ years. This is when experience is key. The more experience the Private Investigator has, the stronger the chances are of finding who you are looking for.
Once we have collected every piece of information from the client that they have, we begin our data searches. In most cases, we work with three restricted databases that are not available to the public for commercial searches. Commercial searches are those that have a legal reason. For example, if your tenant in Jamaica skipped out on the rent and you want to serve him with papers to take him to court. Or perhaps you need to find your missing spouse to take him to court for a divorce so you can marry the new person in your life. These are all considered commercial reasons. We do extensive research in each database and then we compare our results against several factors, including the information provided by the client. Afterward, we cross-check the information against all three data search results to find out the strongest indicators of where the subject may be. We then go in person in most cases to confirm that this is where the person is now residing so you can hire a process server to deliver the legal papers.
If it is a non-commercial search, such as re-connecting with a relative or friend that you have lost touch with, we approach the case in a slightly different way. We have several ways to locate them as well other than the use of legal databases. We still have many tricks up our sleeves to be able to have great success with these types of cases, some of which are listed below.
The next step is to take the strongest information and start a deep investigation. Depending on the case, we do some (or all) of the following to help locate the subject:
- Deep web searches – we look to find anything on the subject that may lead us in a direction.
- OSINT searches – (or Open Source INTelligence) is part deep web search and part social media search. Anything that is on the web is looked into on several different browsers and platforms, many of which you probably do not know even exist. In some cases, we have found the breadcrumbs that have led us to the person when they seem to have disappeared. Experience tells us what to look for and in turn, helps you.
- Compare – we go through all of the information we received from the client and what we found through research. We find the strongest possibilities of where they may be, and then we follow the leads.
- In person – we go “old school” and start knocking on doors. We go to where we believe either the subject or the subject’s relatives may be to confirm their location. This approach is often used when the subject is homeless.
- Surveillance – in some harder cases (usually commercial ones) it is necessary to do surveillance in order to find the person. This is when we must stake out the strongest lead in order to find where they are. In those cases, it does cost more, however, the results in most cases are well worth it. An example would be a child support case where the parent has claimed they are not working and moved out of their reported home in Fresh Meadows. He or she is way overdue in their support payments. We may have to follow them from a family member or friend’s home to see where they are working now in order for you to report it back to the court and therefore claim your back payments and perhaps even increase your current payments.
These are just a few examples of the things we do in order to “follow the breadcrumbs” of information we uncover in order to find the person that you are looking for. We may find them at their place of business or a relative’s home and follow them back to their current residence. We may find a new address in our searches that we then confirm by watching the residence until we see them or confirm in some other way that they reside there.
Once we have confirmed the location of the subject, one of two things will happen. If it was a commercial search, we notify the client right away. Then we will write up a report and give it to the client to submit to their attorney or court.
If it is non-commercial, we will contact the client to find out how they would like for us to proceed.
- We can ask the subject if it is ok to give their contact information to the client.
- If the subject says “yes” we can provide the contact information for the subject to the client.
- If the subject says “no” we will let the client know and allow them an opportunity to write a letter to the subject explaining why they are trying to contact them. We would then either deliver the letter personally or by mail certified return receipt requested to the subject and notify the client when it has been received.
- We can give the client’s information to the subject and let them decide whether or not to contact the client.
The main thing to remember is that we have many, many resources that the general public does not both restricted and not restricted. We also have over 30 years experience and know what to look for and where to look for it. We have also developed an extensive network of contacts over the years to assist us with investigations. When you are at the point where you are ready to take the first step towards finding someone, please contact someone local. We grew up in New York and we know the areas very well from Manhattan to Fort Totten to Long Island and Connecticut as well. Don’t waste your time and money with some big national firm that will only look on their computer and not confirm it in person. We know the streets, the towns, the people. If you want it done right, come to us the first time. Don’t wind up wasting your money and your time by coming to us after you’ve gone to some cheaper anonymous company online or some national agency out of some other state and gotten incorrect, outdated information. Save money and time and come directly to us. We are ready to start when you are.
Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded, handling cases in Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, Bronx NY, New York City, Staten Island and Long Island NY and all over Connecticut. Terri Dornfeld along with her husband, Adam have been working cases for Legal Teams, Insurance Companies, Private Businesses, Municipalities, School Systems and general investigation services for the public since 1992.
Investigreat, LLC | Private Investigators serving Jamaica NY, Brooklyn NY, Queens NY, Connecticut | Office: 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269