Background Investigations – Free public sources

There are a number of reasons individuals request background investigations. Some people are interested in knowing about a prospective tenant, employee, or even a person they thinking of dating. What you need to know is that, depending on what kind of information you are looking for, much of this information can be located on public sources, such as in our court system, police departments, social media accounts, and other online databases. Of course, if you are seeking a comprehensive search of a person’s background (E.G. Identification verification (driver’s license/ social security), asset searches, criminal history, address reports, associates, AKA’s, financial background) then your best choice would be to hire a Private Investigator, as much of this information is obtain through proprietary online databases and other sources.

So, for example let’s say you just met a person you know very little about, but you just want to insure he has not been in trouble with the law before. Most states and local jurisdictions have state court websites that you can run the person’s name through and locate any case they have been involved with. In Idaho and Washington websites are fairly easy to use, but knowing their birthdate helps narrow your search. The cases that are displayed include any criminal or civil matters they are currently or have been involved with in the past. Also, if you know where the person currently lives or has lived before, you can request through the Public Records Act, any police contacts that person has had with the local law enforcement agency. This works the same way with addresses. Law Enforcement agencies can give you any “calls for service” from a residence as long as you have an address and date range. Most Law Enforcement agencies have a request form on their website for this service.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are three of the most popular social media platforms on the internet, and they can be a wealth of information if you know how to navigate them. Accessing these websites can tell a lot about a persons lifestyle and habits. However, many users have a private profile that limits what you are able to view. Google and Bing are also great search engines that you can use to your advantage if you know how. For example, did you know that if you search Christopher Swan with no quotes it will produce 33 million results, but if you place quotation marks on the name the results are filtered to 38,000. Now imagine placing the persons home city within quotes after the person’s name and it will narrow your results even further.

Be careful obtaining information through the many “people search” websites that exist on the internet. Most will charge a fee and its unknown how current or accurate the information will really be. If you do choose this route, just make sure you are able to verify the information through a secondary source before you follow up with the information. This is to not only protect you, but also to limit your exposure to any possible liability.  

My point to this blog is to do your research. There are many “Open Source Techniques” books and articles out there to learn from.

And of course if you ever have any questions, you can call us at Resolve Investigations LLC 909-477-1479