Search vs. Discovery

Discovery Walk sign

When we’re at the library, there are generally two methods for finding books or other items in the collection. We can search the catalog for specific titles, authors, or subjects that interest us. Or, we can browse the shelves or scan suggested reading lists to see what looks interesting.  It’s the same with online research. Most […]

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Top post: Due Diligence Hall of Shame – The other guy checked them out

Shamed businessman with sack over his head

This article was originally published in June 2016 and was first in my due diligence hall of shame series. I’m still intrigued by the lack of due diligence and recently heard this case discussed during a webinar on Fraud and Pop Culture with Kelly Paxton and Jo Erven. I’ve been collecting articles that illustrate some […]

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Online public records – What’s missing?

missing pieces in a puzzle

As a professional investigator, online public records are some of my go-to sources for information about people and businesses. But searching the public record through online databases has its challenges, especially when it comes to missing information. Online public records don’t contain everything, so, depending on your level of investigation – and your level of […]

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Need something different? – Try some Google alternatives

Variety is the spice of life

For any searches more complicated than a simple look-up, it’s important for researchers and investigators to go beyond Google and try some alternatives. In spite of its size, Google has its limits, for several reasons:  Google can be too big – For deep research, sometimes we need something more specialized than what you get with […]

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Public records sources: What to know and what to avoid

Caution signs on laptop

When conducting online investigations, public records add valuable info about our subjects. Assets, liabilities, legal trouble, and much more. Public records are useful, but searching can be tedious and time-consuming, and our findings affect people’s lives and livelihoods. So, in addition to using quality information, we need to gather it efficiently. That’s why it pays […]

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Top post: Aggregators or direct sources?

sign with two choices

This is an updated version of a post that was originally published in 2016. When buying information – public records, news, or legal filings – you have two choices: Buying direct from the sources or buying from information aggregators, firms that compile data from multiple direct sources into one database or product. These are usually […]

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How to become a private investigator

dog dressed as private investigator

How do I become a private investigator? People often ask me this question, and I generally offer some standard advice, but I decided to tap into my network of fellow PIs to see what else I should be  telling others about breaking into this exciting and rewarding profession.  Many thanks to all who responded to […]

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Top post: Too much information – Now what?

Too much information

This post was originally published on September 16, 2019. TMI. Too much information. Can the results of an investigation or research project provide so much information that it’s overwhelming? To you and your client? A recent question from a colleague reminded me that it’s not always about finding too little or, worse, no information. Here’s […]

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What’s missing from your research?

Mind the gap - What's missing

As an investigator or researcher, what you don’t find is often as important as what you do find – if not more. To be thorough, you need to be mindful of what you can and can’t deliver to your client. A recent case reminded me of this important lesson, and I’d like to share what […]

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