September 2015
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From September 16-19, Trace Investigations' founder, Don C. Johnson, was a guest at the annual conference of the Florida Association of Private Investigators in Altamonte Springs, Florida, near Orlando. Over the years, Trace Investigations has been a reliable resource for Florida's private investigators needing assistance in Indiana. Johnson will be there as the National Director of the National Association of Legal Investigators, talking about NALI's national network of investigators who provide litigation support services for trial attorneys.

"Research demands involvement. It cannot be delegated very far."
- Anonymous

The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you with critical information that will help you prevail in your business affairs wherever fact-finding is an essential component. We will share what I have learned in my 30+ years as a professional investigator and intelligence analyst.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to provide you this valuable information. We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "Tracings" is the latest and most current information available. In this edition, along with a brief history of celebrating our 25 years in business, we have addressed the problem with comprehensive data reports.
We want to write about topics that will assist you in succeeding in your business endeavors. Please e-mail us your topics of interest to
We encourage you to share our e-newsletter with others in your sphere of influence.

Don C. Johnson, CLI, CII
A Focus on Client Needs: Trace Investigations Celebrates 25 Years in Business
In the Beginning ...
On September 20, 1990, the Indiana State Police issued a private detective license to Trace Investigations in Bloomington, Indiana. Two years later when the license was up for its first renewal, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency had oversight of private detectives and security guards. The rest, as they say, is history. Under Indiana law we are now known as private investigators, not detectives, and our license renewals are on four year cycles. We've seen a lot of changes in the business world over the intervening years.

A Car, a Camera, a Pager ...
In those early days, I was a sole practitioner, a private detective with a car, a camera, a pager and a portable typewriter at a home office for writing reports. Now, our staff has grown, as has our office space downtown, and the technological changes we've seen since 1990 are astonishing. The days of copying VHS video tapes and developing case photos from 35mm roll film for our clients are a part of history. These days we can... Read More

Mining the Never Minds: Beware of "Comprehensive" Data Reports
An attorney brought a case to us recently that had been worked by another private investigator. The assignment had been to locate an individual for service of process. The PI had forwarded to the attorney a comprehensive "trace" report he had obtained from a data broker, with a note that he "believed" the most recent address listed for the subject in the report was accurate. You will never see one of these reports sent to you as a result of an investigation by Trace Investigations.

Garbage In, Garbage Out ...

You are no doubt familiar with these comprehensive data reports. All the major data brokers have their version: Lexis Nexis, Accurint, IRB search (Accurint for PIs), TLO, IDI Data, Thomson Reuters (CLEAR) and a number of other brokers aggregate their data from many of the same sources. The thing to remember -- no matter which broker you subscribe to - is that you are accessing raw data compiled from multiple data banks and much of it is garbage. "Garbage in, garbage out," as we like to say. Some of these reports can run from 30-50 pages with a lot of extraneous information of little or no value to the instant investigation. There are, of course, valuable gems of information hiding in plain sight in these reports, and therein lies their value and often times the key to a successful investigation.

We use comprehensive reports not only to locate people but to conduct a background investigation in anticipation of litigation. They will provide address histories on a subject, but he may or may not have actually resided at a particular address. A report could show an address from a different individual with the same exact name
...Read More