missing pieces in a puzzle

Online public records – What’s missing?

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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Caution signs on laptop

Public records sources: What to know and what to avoid

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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sign with two choices

Top post: Aggregators or direct sources?

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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separating fact from fiction

Fact or fiction? – How to avoid misinformation on the web

It’s nothing new. We’ve been relying on the web and social media for the information we need for a long time. In the age of self-isolation, uncertainty, and new threats, though, we’re doing it more than ever. These days, it seems that the web has become our primary source of news and other critical information. […]

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Newspapers and tablet with business news

What sources do I use for searching news?

I’m frequently asked about what I use for news searching, so I thought I’d share my sources and why they’re so important to my investigations. Note that these include free and fee-based sources, because – with online information – you definitely get what you pay for. You can’t do a thorough job with just free. […]

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Currency

Why it pays to pay for online information

If you read this blog, you know that I frequently advise others to conduct a background investigation on themselves. It pays to know what others find when they search for your name on Google or another search engine. But what if the news isn’t good? What if, among your results, you discover information that you […]

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Can you trust what you find online?

Buyer beware: Can you trust your information sources?

In a recent post, I talked about the importance of verifying your sources, and, in response, many of you have asked me this: “How do I know if I can trust the information I find?” The short answer? You really can’t. Fake news and bad information are not new. Librarians have been curating collections for […]

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Trust, but verify

Due Diligence Hall of Shame: Trusting just one source

You’re looking for a financial planner, a trusted adviser and professional. Where do you go? Maybe you try LetsMakeAPlan.org, a directory operated by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. But, can you trust that your searches there will lead you to the right individual? According to a July 30th Wall Street Journal article, the […]

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Magnifying glass on laptop

Online public records: Top investigative challenges and what to do about them

In my experience as a librarian, business researcher, and private investigator, I’ve done a lot of online searching. I’ve reviewed, purchased, used, and taught others how to use all types of online databases. I’ve searched for all kinds of information. But the most challenging type of searching and the one topic that tests my fortitude […]

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Time to upgrade

Vendor wish list – Making sure an upgrade isn’t a downgrade

As an investigator, I rely on my collection of premium databases for hard-to-find information. You’d be surprised what you can’t find through Google. Over the years, I’ve worked with lots of different vendors who offer great products and customer service, and they’re well worth the investment. To their credit, database providers often upgrade their products […]

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