Primary Sources Used by Legal Investigators

Posted by Private Investigator | Posted in PI | Posted on 21-07-2011

Good morning, Mr.Harrell,

I am currently enrolled in your online private investigator school with goals of becoming a Private Investigator in the next year or so depending on being able to find an internship when I am through. Forgive me for asking, I am sure that it is somewhere in your course material but I was wondering what the three most used sources used by a legal investigator are, aside from the usual sources (Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Social Security Admin., Clerk of Courts, etc.)? Would discovery and disclosure be considered a source in and of itself even though it may contain information from some of the aforementioned sources? I hope you don’t mind my inquiry. Thank you for your time! -BJ

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Absolutely! Information found in discovery and deposition documentation is vital to conducting a thorough legal investigation (including information gathered from testimony by subjects in unrelated legal matters). “Legal Investigators,” in particular, usually incorporate information culled from scene investigations, witness interviews and a gathering of the forensic facts.

Beyond discovery, here are some additional sources:

  • Information Brokers and Databases such as IRBsearch, TLO, TracersInfo, etc.
  • Witness Statements and Interviews
  • Photographic Documentation and Aerial Imagery of Accident Scenes
  • Internet, “Deep Web” and Social Networking Sites
  • Motor Vehicle and Law Enforcement Generated Reports
  • Forensics, Autopsy and Medicolegal Reports
  • Federal and State Laws, Rules and Regulations
  • Local Ordinances
  • Product Safety Standards, Department of Transportation Rules, Engineering Requirements, etc

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Let’s not forget legal research techniques, too:
Tacking Legal Research Assignments for Private Investigators
Best of the Best Legal Research Sources

I can go on and on, really… It’s my pleasure to reply and best of luck in your continued studies.

-L. Scott Harrell

How Do I Find or Locate a Lien Holder or Mortgagor on Real Property

Posted by Private Investigator | Posted in PI | Posted on 06-04-2010

How do you find out who a mortgage co is for real property?

Sincerely,

Val

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Val,

Assuming that the property is not owned “free and clear,” in most circumstances there will be a lien holder (or multiple lien holders) on the property. A property lien is a legal claim on real property for payment of some debt or other obligation, usually for the payment to the mortgagor(s) who lent the money to the property purchaser.

Absent a tax lien, a lien on real property to secure the payment of overdue state or federal taxes, the mortgagor will be the primary lien holder. Property liens are most often filed with the civil records in the county court where the property is located, more specifically with the property deeds. Lien holder information can usually also be found at the county Tax Assessor’s Office.

Keep in mind that the mortgagor is not always a bank or other lending institution; the buyer may have purchased the property via a mortgage or private loan offered directly from the previous land owner, too.

Lastly, if you are looking for the lien holder because you or your client intend to file suit or attach the property via some other legal action, you may very well find multiple lien holders staking a claim to the property. It is not uncommon to find multiple mortgage liens, tax liens, builder’s liens, judgment liens, etc. filed against any one property. Depending upon state law, different types of liens fall into a sort of pecking order. If the court forces the sale of a property the lien holders will be paid in the order of seniority; junior liens get paid last… if there is anything left.

L. Scott Harrell

How Do I Locate People Entitled to Unclaimed Money?

Posted by Private Investigator | Posted in PI | Posted on 23-03-2010

Hi L Scott,

I see that we are common Facebook friends with S. Bauer and V. Siedow. I also see from your page that you work for IRB Search, so I am contacting you to see if you would be willing to share some of your skip tracing knowledge. I would like to find people that have moved and all I have is their name and the property address of where they used to live (and owned it).

1) What are the best free and paid websites to find people with this little amount of info?
2) If they have died, how do I find their next of kin, Executor of their estate or whatever else this person is called?

I will be finding these people for the purpose of letting them know that they are entitled to unclaimed money in their name.

Thank you VERY much,
Michael P.

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Hi Michael,

You will need two things from an information broker…

a) an “Address Update,” where you can input a name and historic address in hopes of finding a new address and

b) a search that provides relatives and neighbors (known associates).

I’m not aware of any free searches that will accomplish address updates and known associates. Most major database providers offer these types of searches and is what IRBsearch is best known for – the ability to find people, associates and assets.  The problem you will have, however, is that most private investigator database providers will require a PI license in order to obtain access.

If you find that a person is owed unclaimed property but is deceased, you could try the obituaries in newspapers local to the decedent’s hometown in your effort to locate heirs and “Next of Kin.”

-Scott Harrell

Types of Work Performed by Private Investigators on the Job (Video)

Posted by Private Investigator | Posted in PI | Posted on 10-11-2009

Perhaps it was an impression created by reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries as a child or watching Magnum PI reruns, but a career as a private investigator seemed larger than life to me when I was seriously considering what I would do with my life.

I, like the majority of the general public, misunderstood and undervalued the work of private investigators until I found myself working as a detective. It wasn’t anything at all like the television shows or the Nancy Drew books and it certainly was not always chasing cheating spouses suspected of infidelity!

The work of private investigators ranges from surveillance, conducting criminal investigations, detecting insurance fraud to a range of other investigative services. The clients are as varied as the work. They include the government, insurance companies, lawyers, private citizens and any person or organization that needs investigative services.

If you want to be a private investigator, then set yourself up for success and get as much training as possible.  Begin with general investigation courses and move on to those specific types of cases that interest you most, i.e. interview techniques, arson investigations, patent and trademark law or insurance law.

The become “employment ready” by investing in the proper equipment, studying your state’s Civil and criminal code, learn to communicate effectively… then be patient but persistent in your job search.