Have you ever wondered: how do private investigators find someone?

It might seem as if private investigator services and online private investigators have superhero senses, but digging up dirty little secrets is actually way easier than you think.

In fact, all it takes is a bit of logic – and tools to work some sleuth magic.

Not sure how do private investigators find someone, or what private investigators can find out about you?

Read on to find out.

How do private investigators find someone: 5 sleuth tactics

Tactic 1: They examine current and past court records

(image credit: court.laws.com) Private investigators can access existing court records on most individuals

Court records are the equivalent of an informational gold mine for private investigators. What better way to assess a person’s character than looking through his or her run-ins with the law?

In the USA, all court cases can be found and accessed on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. Anyone can use this service to look for a court case in any appellate and district, as long as they have an account.

Most states also have their own case look-up services. While most are free to use, like Connecticut’sand Colorado’s, some states choose to charge a fee for access.

What private investigators can find out about you from court records varies from state to state.

Every state has their own privacy policy, and some lean towards protecting the privacy of defendants. To know more about what information from court records can be disclosed and to whom the information can be disclosed, check out this list of court case privacy policies.

Tactic 2: They listen in on social networks

(image credit: NetBase) Social media is a private investigator's best friend

It’s often said that social media did what the CIA tried to do for decades overnight.

People often overshare information on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Photos shared on Instagram have threatened the confidentiality of certain sensitive locations. Yet others, like Tik Tok, provide easy access for hackers – and worse.

With so much information being passed around, it’s no surprise that social media is a private investigator’s best friend.

A simple lookup on any social media app will likely yield a lot of information on the average user. And If that doesn’t work, a private investigator can also fall back on open-source intelligence (OSINT) tools to sieve out information they need.

A simple way to prevent private investigators from gaining information about you on social media is to not share any information about yourself on social media. Refrain from disclosing sensitive personal details, and link a fake email address and phone number instead.

Not sure where to get reliable second phone numbers? Our Phoner second phone number app can help.

Tip 3: They follow your online activity

(Image credit: Medium) With the right tactics and tools, private investigators can trace what you do online

Private investigators can also keep tabs on what you do on the internet without the need for any specialised tool.

You might not realise it. Every time you go online, you’re actually leaving behind a distinct digital trail. Think about:

  • That last online transaction you did
  • That recent comment you posted on an internet forum
  • Your recent signup for a new online membership
  • Your searches on search engines like Google

All these actions are digital “breadcrumbs” that paint a trail back to you.

If you have a reliable VPN like VPN Vault to cloak your online activity, private investigators won’t be able to see these “breadcrumbs”.

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Private investigators also don’t need to spend a lot of time trawling the internet to look for someone. By simply using multiple search engines and generating relevant results, private investigators can quickly narrow down information to find someone.

Tip 4: Private investigators can even access your public records

(image credit: Palo Alto Daily Post) There's a lot more about you on the internet than you think

Another way private investigators get their information is by looking into a person’s public records.

Public records refer to any record that has been created, received, retained, maintained or filed by or with any public agency. This also applies to any document from a non-governmental source but was given to a public agency.

Examples of public records private investigators can access include:

  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage and divorce records
  • Real estate records (ownership, liens, titles)
  • Court records
  • Vehicle licensing

For higher-profile targets, private investigators can also access news archives stored in a public library.

Tip 5: They already have your information on powerful databases

(image credit: Shareware Connection) Private investigators can easily get the info they need from databases

It doesn’t take long for private investigators to find most people, and that’s largely because they already have access to detailed databases that combine data from multiple sources.

Also known as data fusion, these databases take information from various sites and aggregates all of it on a single, easy-to-access platform for any private investigator to browse through.

Many of these databases provide access to not only public records, but also less easily accessed non-public records.

Examples of what information can be found on these databases include:

  • Known addresses
  • Landline and cell phone numbers
  • Home ownership details
  • Voting records

Keep out of a private investigator’s sights

With so much information readily available to private investigators, what can private investigators find out about you becomes a real concern.

(image credit: Charleston Law) Taking your privacy seriously can make it a lot more difficult for PIs to find you

From your addresses and accounts, to spouses and cell phone numbers, little information is safe from the prying eyes of private investigators.

You can’t hide public records or hide information on databases, but what you can do is to start taking your online privacy and phone number privacy more seriously.

So now you know how do private investigators find someone. Staying hidden from private investigators can be difficult, but taking your privacy seriously can be a great first step towards throwing them off your trail.