Like many jobs, private investigation has changed dramatically over the last 20 years or so. The main reason for this is the growth of resources available online from a computer, tablet or smartphone. A private investigator can complete in-depth, online research in mere minutes if he or she knows the best places to look for accurate and up to date information. We’ve put together a list of the five websites that are a must for any investigator. These are the cornerstones of research about nearly any individual or business which may need to be traced.
- Tlo.com – Similar to tlo.com mentioned above, LexisNexis buy Accurint is also a paid subscription service design for professionals. The information LexisNexis provides may mostly be available online from other resources, but the program has gathered it in an easy to access platform to reduce the time needed to research a subject. LexisNexis by Accurint boasts that it has a direct connection to over 65 billion current public records. This makes verifying identities and conducting investigations easier than ever before.
- Facebook – While there are certainly many social media websites out there, few are as beneficial to an investigator as Facebook. If you are not utilizing this site as part of the investigation process you are likely missing a huge chunk of useful information. Although searching through the website is slightly more difficult than in years past due to changes to the search interface, the ability to sort by city, school attended, workplace and other details is still available–you just may need to dig a bit to find it. There is no site more useful for social engineering than Facebook, as you can put together a selection of family and friends that surround a person with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Local Government Websites – One extremely beneficial resource you have available to you is your local government websites. In many cities, counties, and states you have full access to public court, motor vehicle and jail records without paying for an additional service. It is important to remember that each of these websites works in a slightly different way, so you may need to do a little pre-research just to figure out the best method of obtaining this information.
- News Archives – there are several different major news archives available by subscription or with free trial. Some of the most popular include Factiva and ProQuest. With a repository like this you have access to news publications that may not be available through a simple Google search. Being able to check old newspaper articles and other types of coverage may be essential in putting together the pieces of someone’s life.
While the sites above are inherently useful in your online research, remember that Google, and the other major search engines, give you access to plenty of information. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the Boolean search expressions and other tools that help you sort through the billions of results available. By utilizing standard search engines as well as the specialty sites listed above, you should be able to create a detailed online picture of nearly anyone.