... Read More
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 lays 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 and with an address history in the same state as the subject; data from different feeds has been comingled. A data report may show results from checks of online court databases, but it will be sketchy information that requires verification from the original source of the data, a state or federal court. Comprehensive reports are only a starting point, a tool to move the investigation forward.
A Case on Point ...
Trace Investigations was retained by the attorney of a wealthy family to conduct an investigation on a woman who had inserted herself into the life of a young man, the heir apparent to a family fortune. The young man was infatuated with this woman and they were planning on getting married. The parents had contacted their attorney because they felt uneasy about the woman's history of only recently moving into the area and from job to job as a secretary. A thorough background investigation was required, and the first thing to do was obtain a comprehensive report on this young woman; a starting point, a tool to move the investigation forward. The report showed her address history and a check of all the courts where she had resided showed no civil or criminal histories. The report showed that her parents were deceased and that she had no relatives. There were, however, a number of "Associates" listed in the report. The Associates list can be aggregated, or "mined," from a variety of data sources, such as