Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CVGS Program Review - "Finding the Living, and Maybe the Dead"

The 28 September 2011 program speaker for the Chula Vista Genealogical Society was Arnie Botts, on the subject of "Finding the Living, and Maybe the Dead."  Arnie is a retired Chula Vista Police Officer, and currently works as a Private Investigator for a local security firm. 

His firm does two types of searches - a Basic Locate Search of a specific person (which includes identity checks for companies and agencies) and Court Record Searches (for civil and criminal cases).

The Basic Locate Search is done on a computer using an unidentified LexisNexis program.  The search program needs information such as a full name, date of birth, Social Security number, last known address, past addresses, names of family members, known subscriptions to magazines or newspapers, etc.  His company can access public records, and some company records (e.g., Sears, Amazon - they sell their information to the service) anywhere in the USA for a basic cost of $50, and can be obtained within 24 hours.  The information stays in the system for at least seven years, and may be available for up to 20 years.  The success rate is good to excellent, as long as the subject has some identifying information.  The report may look like the Sample Person report at

For a Court Record Search, the search program needs the full name, date of birth, race, and a location of the records.  Most locations are computerized, although small and rural areas sometimes are not.  Specific searches usually yield results, but general searches are often difficult and time consuming.  The Basic search cost is $25, but difficult searches are more. 

Privacy issues are considered, and the search has to be justified.  For example, a request by a current family member or a crime victim.  Companies or agencies using these programs are audited by the federal government to assure that the searches are legitimate.  Customers need to provide a reason for their search - no "fishing expeditions." 

The audience asked many questions, including:

*  Can you find ex-husbands and/or missing fathers?  Yes.

*  Can credit reports be obtained?  Yes, property, bankruptcy and lawsuit data can be obtained, but not credit ratings.

*  How do you become a private investigator?  You can pass a test, pay $300, and get a license.

*  How can I find an ex-girlfriend's current name and location?  Using school records, alumni or reunion information is best. 

Unfortunately, Arnie had to leave early for a business conference in Los Angeles.  This was an interesting look at a research area that could help find living persons, but it costs money and there are restrictions on its use.

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