1. Gather Information: The private investigator must collect as much information as possible about the individual who is the subject of the investigation. The type of information may include the subject’s full name, date of birth, social security number, previous addresses, phone numbers, and any other relevant personal details, which will ensure proper identification. If a client does not possess the required information, an effective private investigator will have background search platforms that can obtain the required information. It cannot be overstated; it is crucial that the private detective firm you retain has the proper search tools to secure the information needed.
2. Open-Source Research: An effective way for a private investigator to get a feel for a person’s assets is to begin with open-source research, which simply means using publicly available information on the internet. A private detective’s research might include social media, news articles as well as professional directories that may provide valuable clues to the private detective about the subject’s financial activities.
3. Database Searches: It is important for a private investigator to access public records databases and proprietary databases (if legally permissible). These sources can provide the private detective information about property ownership, liens/judgments, bankruptcies, and other financial transactions that would be suggestive of a subject’s financial stability
4. Court Records: A professional private investigator will check local municipal, state, and federal court records for any civil or criminal cases involving the subject. Proprietary databases such as “Thomson Reuters Clear, Tracers, TLO” or IRB as well as Pacers to review federal criminal charges and civil lawsuits
5. Bank and Brokerage Inquiries: While private investigators normally cannot directly access a subject’s bank or brokerage accounts without proper predication or authorization, a Private Detective can try to obtain information indirectly. This might include the private detective contacting the subject’s financial institutions in order to inquire about the existence of accounts, although institutions are sometimes hesitant to share this information without proper authorization.
6. Subpoenas and Legal Process: If necessary and with proper legal approval (court-issued subpoena), an attorney may compel financial institutions to disclose account information.
7. Asset Searches: Experienced asset search specialists do not work directly for a client, instead asset search specialists will work for a private investigator whom acts as the middle man in the asset search. These Asset search specialists can help track down hidden assets, such as offshore accounts, real estate, or other investments.
8. Surveillance: In some cases where a client may have a need to prove a “lifestyle” issue, surveillance may be used by a private investigator in order to observe the subject’s lifestyle and spending habits, this type of surveillance can often be used in civil litigation matters that can provide insights into their financial situation.
9. Report Preparation: A private investigator should then compile a concise report in which the investigator correlates all the information that had been obtained into a comprehensive report for the client. It is crucial that the private investigator ensure that the report is accurate, well-documented, and can be used for legal or investigative purposes.