The holidays are a time of celebrating with friends and family, a time when people often grow nostalgic about those with whom they’ve lost contact. Sometimes people try to look up missing loved ones on the Internet (who aren’t always missing, by the way — sometimes their contact information fell through the cracks years ago), but they little or no information online.
Online Detective Sites: Save Your Money
If you’ve been searching for contact information for a missing loved one on the Internet, and you’re only finding out-of-date addresses and phone numbers, resist the urge to pay an online detective site. A lot of their Internet ads promise to locate people for $19.95, $24.95, or more, but unless that person has stayed put, living in the same residence for at least two or more years, those Internet databases probably aren’t going to help you. Instead, you’ll end up paying good money for old, wrong, or irrelevant information. Also, if you have a question about the search results, there’s no live person to help you out.
How a Private Investigator Can Help
A lot of people will stop there and end the search. That’s a shame because a qualified private investigator can often locate people efficiently and quickly. That’s because a private investigator not only has access to information not available to the public, but has the background and expertise to sift through information and pinpoint relevant data. When I say “information not available to the public,” I’m referring to proprietary database companies whose clients include professional private investigators, law enforcement, law firms, collection agencies and others who are professionally qualified. All customers of such databases, including the author of this article, have gone through background checks by these database services before they’re allowed to access information in the databases.
If you contact a P.I. to help you find a missing relative, keep in mind that a professional investigator won’t simply hand over the found person’s private contact information to you. Instead, after the P.I. locates the relative/loved one, the investigator will:
- Inform the found person (through a phone call, letter or in person) that he/she has been hired to locate them by a client, and provide that person’s name.
- Provide means for the found person to locate the client (through a phone number, address, email address, etc.).
These precautions are critical to protect others’ privacy. Unfortunately, there have been cases where criminals and others with questionable motives have hired P.I.s to find people.
Initial Screenings of Clients
Prior to accepting your case, a P.I. will likely conduct an initial screening to verify your identity, review your criminal background and check the legitimacy of your request. You’d want the same privacy protection and options if someone was wanting to locate you.
It’s our experience that most “missing” family members are delighted to have been found by their loved ones. And it’s rewarding to the investigator to have brought families together again.
Colleen Collins is a private investigator and the author of romance, mystery and nonfiction books. Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye is an Amazon nonfiction bestseller. Her most recent fiction release, Sleepless in Las Vegas, is the second in a private-eye-romance series published by Harlequin.