Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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Online Detectives Sites: Don’t Waste Your Money

Posted by Writing PIs on December 13, 2009

You want to find someone (a long-lost relative, friend, business acquaintance, etc.).  Or maybe you want to do a background check on your nanny, see if  your applicant has a criminal history.  Or perhaps it’s for a more personal reason–you’re dating someone special, want to make sure she/he is really who they say they are.  You’re tempted to use one of those advertised online detective sites that promises to get you that elusive address, background history, phone number, email address, whatever.  Seems so easy, and best of all, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Don’t do it.

We know, it’s only going to cost you $19.95 (or $29.95 or $35.95 or more), but odds are you’ll be wasting your hard-earned money if you pay for their data.  Why?  Let us count the ways:

1.  Instead of access to the information you want, many of these detective web sites only offer links to other databases or websites (that cost more $$) for the information.   This sets you up for a lot of time, frustration, and money trying to find the information you want.

2.  Online detective databases advertise “timely” and “accurate” information, but you, the buyer, don’t know how often they update their information, or even if it’s accurate (after all, it was originally human fingers that typed in data–and being human, mistakes happen).  Maybe they purchase their data from yet another online database, and who knows how accurate that third-party vendor’s data is?

3.  Online detective databases are just that: online and impersonal.  There’s no live person interpreting the results or answering your questions.  You’re left with a chunk o’ data, and no one to tell you what’s relevant, if that “Sally Jones” address is actually the same Sally Jones you wanted to find, if the phone number you got is actually ported and although it once belonged to Sally, it now rings to Harvey Duncan, etc. etc. etc.

4.  Some statistics claim 97% of all detective web site offer little in the way of actual information, and that their information has been obtained through other outdated database and directories.

In summary, although it’s not impossible to find correct information on the Internet, it’s not a wise option.  Far better to cut the “middleman online database” and go to a reliable, expert source, such as a private investigator who can do the research, verify the accuracy of the information, and answer your questions.   Not sure how to find a qualified PI?  Check your state’s professional private investigator organization, ask a friend or ask your attorney for recommendations.

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