The same databases that bad guys use to attack reporters, whistle-blowers and investigators can be table-turned to take down the bad guys. Let’s take a look:

* You need to create a user account with every database you can, or use a search intermediary partner. Some communities get together to pool funds for memberships. You can now even crowd-fund all of your DB search memberships and search fees.

* Make a file on your computer for each person, company, trip, etc. that you are investigating and put all of the results, from each database, in that “Cull Folder”.

* After you have searched all of the info you can possibly find on that target, go through your “Cull Folder” and filter out the duplicates.

* Using these systems, you can take down an entire corrupt corporate rogue group in a week-end, from the comfort of your living room.

* You may not be surprised to discover that 75% of elected officials will not pass a back-ground check.


(type each company name into a search engine to find their latest links)


peoplelookup advancedbackgroundchecks peoplesmart addresses publicrecordsnow privateeye usapeoplesearch veromi peoplefinders ussearch zabasearch intelius peekyou beenverified spokeo address whitepages




GIS BackGround Checks


Social Intelligence

Dun And Bradstreet



Merlin Information

Tracers Info


IQ Data




Kroll Backgrounds





Keep looking, online, for new databases, there are over 1200 of them out there, with new ones popping up all the time.

Beware of hacker Database fire sales. Many hackers, particularly in Russia, will offer to sell you, for example: “Every credit card transaction that any Sony executive member made on a credit card that had the word “Sony” in the corporate name on the card…”

These hackers probably have real, actual data…but, the second you start communicating with them you will be flagged by the feds. Be very careful. Try to source domestically.


Private Investigation Database Resources



Private Investigator Records Search and Databse Sources








The on-line database has been a terrific boon for the investigations field. It’s information we can instantly access on the Internet—not as a substitute for an investigation, of course—but a great way to jump start your search.

Instead of steering you towards any specific service provider, I’ll describe a few types of reports available from most information brokers and demonstrate how they an invaluable sources for information for investigations.

The major players in the investigative database & information broker world, still catering to private investigators and independent skip tracers, include (in no particular order) IRB Search, Accurint, Merlin Information, Tracers Info, TLO, IQ Data, MasterFiles, PublicData and several others.

Most database & information brokers provide some version of a credit header, aggregated civil and criminal records (which should never be relied upon for conducting a background investigation), motor vehicle registration and driver’s license information, property records, telephone information, and other information regarding corporations, professional licensing U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration registration. This information is sourced from proprietary data-sets, GLBA restricted information and publicly available databases.

Lately, the privacy watchdogs have certainly taken a huge bite out of the information brokers and database providers. Many of the best sources have long since stopped providing the best information or have truncated Social Security numbers (most often omitting the last four numbers). Some have stopped servicing private investigators and other independent service providers, such as bail agents and independent debt collectors, altogether.

In my opinion, most of these providers would appear to be roughly the same because they have the same offerings and, ultimately, are obtaining the bulk of their data from the same sources. However, they are certainly not all equal and price-per-search is not a good indicator of the quality of the information you will receive! There are a couple of standouts, and the real difference between them all is their user interface, unique sourcing of information, pricing, batch update schedules and how well they have cross-referenced all of the records they serve to the end-user.

Batch updates refer to how often they are obtaining new information updates from their sources—they buy these records in batches. The best database providers are updating their information on shorter cycles—maybe every few weeks for credit header information and every few days for telephone information rather than maintaining older, stale data sets. Typically speaking, the older the data, the less expensive the service is going to cost.

Each information broker is certainly different in their ability to take the data they have available and their ability to present that information in a way that makes sense to the end user. Some are really good and some are really bad. Some providers have done a great job at relating, or cross-referencing, the data so that the sum of the data is greater than its individual parts. For instance, well-sourced data will uncover relationships between people, which can be extremely important to the skip tracer when the subject of the investigation seems to have fallen off of the planet.

The next best option is to locate people who know the subject in an effort to develop leads.

By recognizing many database providers have strong and weak points, I have learned to pick and choose among several specialists rather than “one size fits all” providers. In general, for missing person investigations there are three types of information you will need to find a reliable source for:

  • Credit Headers and Consumer Credit Reports
  • Real-time and Historical Telephone Information
  • Motor Vehicle Registration and Licensing Information


If you’d like to learn more about the service providers private investigators use, send Stephanie Mitchell an email ( and she will discuss the ins and outs of each service.

We’d certainly love to hear your opinion of the various providers as well!

L. Scott Harrell is the managing principal of CompassPoint Investigations, a thriving private investigation agency based in Pensacola, Florida, as well as the digital marketing and competitive intelligence consultancy, Broadside Incorporated.