How Do Private Investigators Find Information – Top Tips


The primary job of a licensed private investigator (PI) is obtaining information, and an investigator has plenty of resources to help achieve that task. Databases that the average person is unaware of often provide a PI with facts that can help get to the bottom of a case quickly. Also, social media networks are frequently a prime source of information. People enjoy staying current with friends and family through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some people document their lives through social media apps, making it much easier for a private detective to gather information.  

Social networks aren’t the only resources, as there are sites many professional investigators subscribe to that contain information about a person’s net worth, for example. Blogs can also provide clues for professional sleuths, along with video and photo sharing sites. Anyone can post a video on YouTube, for example, and even the bookmarking site Pinterest can give clues about a person’s preferences and activities.  

How do private investigators work?

Many private investigators have a background in law enforcement or the military. Others have earned a degree in criminal justice or a related field as preparation for an investigative career. Movie and TV depictions of private eyes as gumshoes who lurk in the shadows are far from the reality of a professional investigative career. Much of the work is done in the office, making phone calls and doing online research. It can be tedious work, but sometimes that’s the best way to obtain information as quickly as possible.

When an investigator does have to go further afield to find information, conducting interviews and performing surveillance are other methods of getting to the bottom of an issue. Surveillance can include long stretches of waiting around for a subject to appear. Sometimes a stakeout can be as simple as taking a picture of someone going into a house or apartment, then waiting to take another photo when they emerge, noting the time in both cases.

When a PI needs to follow someone’s car, one tactic used to avoid detection is working in tandem with another investigator. That way, the subject doesn’t see the same vehicle behind them the whole time. Most people are pretty oblivious to other traffic on the road, though. They’re paying attention to their driving and the cars right next to them, and they might be talking on the phone as well. Also, professional investigators are skilled at following a vehicle from a distance, keeping several cars between themselves and the person they’re tailing.

How do private investigators find information?

Investigators know how to access databases not available to the public, and private investigators are skilled researchers. Most private detectives also have a network of informants from all walks of life. They might be public servants with access to legally available information or just everyday people who keep an eye on what’s going on in the community.

In a missing person case, how do private investigators find you? Everyone leaves a record of their activities, one way or another. Online research and phone calls aren’t as exciting as tracking a person or surreptitiously recording a conversation, but they’re valuable tools. A trained investigator can find plenty of clues to help locate an individual this way. 

How do private investigators get their information? Public records can provide facts that help a detective get to the bottom of a case quickly. Investigators subscribe to powerful search programs that can compile and sort legally available records of all types. Business licenses, voter registrations, and even news articles can contain valuable clues. 

If this method doesn’t turn up the data an investigator needs, interviews are another avenue for finding information. A seasoned PI can often build a rapport with a source that encourages them to open up and share information. When an investigator convinces a person to cooperate, their input can reveal facts that help solve the case. 

What do private investigators do to find people?

Finding missing people, or skip tracing, is one of the services provided by a professional investigation company. Some people are missing deliberately, and they don’t want to be found. This is sometimes the case when a person has debts that they’re unable or unwilling to honour. In other situations, there’s no reasonable explanation for a person going missing, and there may even be suspicious circumstances surrounding their disappearance.

A professional PI will ask for specific information from the client to help in the search for a missing person. If you’re looking for someone, be prepared to provide as many of these things as possible:

  • A photo of the missing person.
  • A list of identifying marks like scars or tattoos.
  • Their full name and address.
  • The place they were last seen.
  • Their usual schedule.
  • Contact information for friends, family and co-workers.

Anything else you can provide to help the investigator will be useful, such as a birth or marriage certificate, a video of the missing person, or a list of medications they take. If the missing person is a child, the police should be notified immediately.

Benefits of a Professional Investigation

A licensed private investigator has access to sources of information that aren’t available to the average person and possesses the skills needed to put the clues together. A PI is also experienced in conducting interviews that achieve results. One of the benefits of hiring a professional investigator is having an impartial third party to record evidence and find out the facts. If you want to have a background check done on a prospective employee, need evidence in a child custody case, or are looking for a missing person, hiring a private investigator is a smart decision.