Monday, November 1, 2010



The Social Security Trace is likely the most effective search used to locate a missing person. It requires that you have the social security number which is used as the input information. This search is actually the top portion of a credit bureau file containing the name and address information. The reason it is the most effective search is because address updates often end up in this database without people realizing that various activity will trigger new address information input into credit bureaus. These reasons could include:
  • A)extension of credit
  • B) as a direct result of filling out an employment application
  • C) As a direct result of filling out an application to rent an apartment.
  • D) AS a direct result of a loan company or bank attempting to collect a debt (they skip traced the subject, located the subject and provided the new address to a credit bureau network)
  • E) As a direct result of applying for insurance.
  • F) As a direct result of applying for various utilities such as water, gas or electric (Many utility companies are now running credit bureaus to determine user deposits).
  • G) As a direct result of an investigator or other professional using the National Identifier as a trace on the subject to either obtain the SSN number or verify identity information.

It's important to realize that there are about 200 million credit bureau files that are consistently being instantly updated by hundreds of thousands of input updates weekly.

Social Security Tracing is unregulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act which means that it is not a restricted search and does not require permissible purposes under the federal law. However, some state laws have superceded federal law. In a few state such as California, a Social Security Trace requires that a notification footer be created every time a Social Security Trace is run. What that means is that a record is kept on the bottom portion of the credit bureau file of the company running the SSN Trace.

When using Social Security Tracing, it is important to understand that there are three credit bureaus (TRW, CBI and Trans Union) that offer such a trace. In order to make a more wider geographical sweep of credit bureau headers, it is usually best to run more than one source.

One of the added features of an SSN tace is the fact that you'll obtain other information that can be helpful.

1) Death Claims Notification
All the credit bureaus subscribe to the Social Security Administration's National Death Claims Index. This is a database of people who have filed claims on an SSN number for death benefits. The original purpose of this extra feature is to insure against credit fraud by using a dead person's SSN number.

2) Multiple Social Security Numbers
When investigators frequency run an SSN Trace on various types of people who are under investigation, they soon notice that many of these people are using more than one SSN number. Sometimes this is a clerical error on the part of people who input information to credit bureaus. More often, however, this is a result of the subject attempting to use a secondary SSN number to cover his trails. Nine times out of ten, this is instantly spotted and tagged with the subject's other file.


Voter Registration searches are, in my opinion, the second most effective search for helping you locate a missing person. Believe it or not, it's one of the most overlooked sources of information mainly because it's a rather new search as far as online computer searching is concerned and many investigators miss the concept and value of the information in this record. Voter Registration files contain name and address information, and in some states, they will also contain the SSN number. Frequently there are massive voter registration drives conducted by political office seekers and you would be surprised at the number of people who register to vote but who are otherwise very careful when it comes to filling out any application that would end up in a credit bureau file.

Registered voter files contain all of the following fields on each individual voter record. The fields which are marked with an (*) may or may not be available. The fields are:
  • CITY (home or NCOA)

The voter registration search also contains forwarding address information (NCOA) so you are also getting a national charge of address with this search.


Uniform Commercial Codes (commonly called UCC's) are notices of lien filings done at each county courthouse and then sent to a state repository. This information is then collected by various online information providers as an online search. A UCC is actually a legal document required by a creditor giving public notice of a lien placed on certain property until the loan is paid off. A UCC becomes valuable in skip tracing or locating a missing person simply because it can be used as a pointer to someone how knows something about your subject under investigation. It's important to remember than, behind every UCC filing, is a loan and a credit application.

When you find a UCC on a debtor skip, you will frequently find that the company that filed the UCC is either also looking for the subject or better, was looking for the subject and found the subject knowing their current where about.


A National Identifier is the forth best computer search for locating a missing person but it's only to be used when you don't have a Social Security Number to conduct a Social Security Trace. A National Identifier pulls information from the same sources of information that a Social Security Trace does but it uses a different input of information. Instead of a mere SSN number, the National Identifier searches uses a name and last known address in an attempt to locate a more current address. Naturally, this search which runs through massive credit bureau files looking for matches, doesn't work quite as well as a Social Security Trace. You will get less frequent hits with this search. It will, however, provide you with a Social Security Number even if it pulls the same address information that you already have. When you pull an SSN number on the subject and not a more current address, it's advisable to go back and run a Social Security Trace. This is an often overlooked step by some missing persons investigators because they have the misconception that they are going to pull the same information again. That might happen but you have to understand that the SSN number is a much better input source than a last known address to obtain matches in credit bureau files.


The forwarding address is a frequently used missing persons computer search that sometimes provides new addresses. Back in the older days of conducting locate investigations, the only way to obtain this information was to either go in person to the post office branch that serviced the last known address or write the postal branch a letter. In those days, it was referred to a Freedom Of Information Request and the post office charged you one dollar to check and see if they had a forwarding address on file.

Effective a year or so ago, the USPS stopped providing this service. The online forwarding address search became more valuable and the only way to legally get to this information. What has happened is the USPS authorized only a handful of computer data companies to act as what they called NCOA agents (National Change Of Address). These agents purchased the change of address information on computer tape and then resold these tapes to authorized online information providers. That is the situation today.

It's also important to note that many NCOA databases also provide forwarding address information for magazine subscription services. These magazine subscription databases and sometimes more useful to the missing persons investigator for an obvious reason. An accomplished skip might understand not to file a postal forwarding address file so they don't get collection letters forwarded to them and don't get collection agencies to readily find them but they paid for their magazine subscription, want to continue to read their magazine and don't realize that this ends up in a database.


I have a driver's license and you likely do to. We all have to renew those licenses every so often because they expire. If you are a skip on the run, you might opt to take a change and drive with an expired driver license but in today's USA your chances of evidently getting stopped by a police officer are fairly good. People renew their driver license and provide new address information because they state requires them too. (And I might add, collects additional tax at the same time) Most driver licenses have to be renewed every four years. It's important to know when your missing person's driver license last expired and/or when it will next expire.
Online information services usually offer driver license searches for some states.

Just like someone's driver license will expire, a more alarming problem for a skip is their vehicle registration. Although you can frequently get away with driving on an expired driver license for awhile, you can not get away with driving on an expired tag for very long before a law enforcement officer notices it. When a vehicle is registered with the state every year, they collect more taxes and ask for your current address. Again it's important for the skip tracer or missing persons investigator to know when the subject's tag was last renewed in state vehicle registration and when the tag has to be renewed again. Most of the online information services provide a search for this type of information. The reason why I a listing Alpha Vehicle Registration number seven instead of number six is that when you apply for renewal of a driver license, they often have your or take your photo and finger prints. This kind of tells the skip, "I better not lie." That type of information is not procured when you renew your tag.

ONLINE SEARCH: Most comprehensive online information providers offer a way to order and obtain tag traces in most states. However, (and it's important to point this out) there are usually less expensive ways of obtaining the information. A few states will let you tap into their online system to obtain the information at a much cheaper rate.
COUNTY COURTHOUSE RECORDS: If you check county courthouse records anyway, most county records departments have places in which you can check vehicle registration by name. This is something you'll need to find out about in your location.
STATE VEHICLE REGISTRATION: As stated, some states will permit private access of online databases for auto tag searches.

Criss-Cross directories have been around investigator's offices in hardcopy form for a very long time. More recent forms of the criss-cross directory are online searches and CD-Roms.They are basically compiled from or with the same information found in a telephone book. However, these products work a little different then a telephone book. These directories and databases give investigators a way to use three pieces of information

The idea behind the criss-cross directory rather you are using an online search, CD-Rom product or hardcopy directory is the fact that, if you have one of those three pieces of information, you can get the other two. The CD-Rom and Online databases are merely databases that, when you input one of the three pieces of information, you get the other two. The hardcopy criss-cross directories are indexed and printed with three different indexes.

Of course, the online databases and CD-Rom databases provide the investigator more than just a local criss-cross directory, they will let you criss-cross the nation.

There are a number of other searches that can be used with these products that include:

You input a name and obtain matched listings of everyone with the same name. In certain types of missing persons cases, this search sometimes produces an easy hit. For example, if you had an assignment in which someone asked you to find a long lost army buddy than had a somewhat unusual last name, you could use this type of search and sometimes get a national list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of a dozen to two dozen people with the same name. Of course, in the case of a John Smith or Arnold Thomas or other more common names, you are just going to get too many hits to narrow it down. Moreover, on females this type of search doesn't quite work as well because long lost females have a habit or changing their last name when they marry, divorce and/or remarry. Not only that, single or widowed females sometimes don't list their first name, only their first initial which makes the number of hits or names you get go way up. To make things even worse, data indicates that many females who marry just let the telephone listing be in their spouses name which means they will not even be in the database.

You input a street and city and obtain a list of everyone who lives on that street which is good for telephone interviewing and, in the case of using this search on a last known address in a missing persons cases, you develop neighborhood sources you can call from your office phone.

The next two sources of information are not online searches but are usually public records searches that make very useful skip trace and locating missing persons tools that can be hand searched at county court houses.

There are many databases to tap into for criss-cross information. Many are free on the net. However, the ones that are free tend to be low grade searches. CD-Rom Criss Cross is a little better but the problem is, the information goes out of data quickly. One solution to that, is to purchase a yearly subscription to PhoneDisc. Hardcopy criss-cross directories are worth having but they are not cheap these days. Most Chamber Of Commerce offices and public libareieis will have them for their city and you'll find that the large Chamber Of Commerce offices and public libraries in large metropolitan areas have them for the complete state.
None of these sources are as current as the better online pay per inquiry sources as the information is more timely.


Marriage records can be found at the country courthouse just like traffic tickets can be searched and are usually considered public record information. I know what you are thinking, this guy got married five years before he skipped town-what good is that going to do me? No it's not going to give you his current address but it's going to give you some keys that might unlock that information on the form of other types of information.

The information contained in marriage records differs somewhat from one state to another but here is what you frequently find actually find in the state of Texas.
  • NAME

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