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Online People Finders: Two Questions to Consider

The internet is flooded with people finders – websites that provide information on a person with promises like “Find anyone, anywhere” or “… Billions of people search records available to anyone at no cost.” The websites claim you can simply enter the information and *poof* you have all the information about the person that you want.

In a situation where you need to find someone – an address, phone number or other information – the search is usually about more than just the data. In addition to the facts, you are interested in the peace of mind that the information provides and the confidence that this will allow you to move forward.

In making a decision about which option best serves your needs, it is important that you do your research about online people searches. Ask yourself these questions:

Is the information important to you?

Online people searches may be a good option for a curiosity about a childhood friend. However if the information you need is more than a passing interest, a private investigator may be a smarter choice. By using less accurate online people searches, you may waste valuable time and money to find out that the information is incorrect or outdated.

Disadvantages of an online people finder are:

  • They do not verify or guarantee accuracy, completeness and usefulness of the data that they provide.
  • Restrictions on the use of the information including distribution, copying or sharing with a third party without written consent from the website.
  • In a legal setting, the information will still need to be verified incurring additional time, resources and costs.

For time-sensitive and important matters, a private investigator can access more accurate databases and resources quickly and efficiently, verify the results, and provide court admissible documentation if needed.

Do you understand the possible legal and ethical ramifications of an online people finder?

Did you know that without proper licensing and authorization for the use of the information, you could be held liable for extensive research, contacting, observing, or locating without adequate and a legally accepted purpose? A private investigator is well-versed in the laws, ethics and restrictions of their local jurisdictions. A quality investigator works with an established, reasonable cause and acts within the limits of the law with the client’s interest in mind. As an impartial third party, an investigator with proper licensing and reasonable cause can complete a more thorough investigation than an individual. For the general public, there could be gray area between the distinction of an innocent internet search and harassment.

The old adage of “you get what you pay for” is certainly applicable for people searches. While an online search may outwardly seem to be a quicker and cheaper alternative, the shortcomings of these websites could negatively impact your case. Accurate information that is legally-obtained, verified and court-admissible will give you the peace of mind allowing you to move forward.


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