Book Description

The mystique of private investigating draws significant numbers of people to consider it as a career or side business. At the same time, individuals want to learn investigative techniques to solve their own personal and legal problems. In The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Private Investigating, Third Edition, private investigator and former FBI agent Steven Kerry Brown shares his hard-won expertise on everything you need to know to track down people and information, including:

- Tapping phones and recording conversations
- Interviewing and interrogating to get important information
- Tricky but legal ways to get needed evidence like the pros
- Performing onsite, online, and mobile surveillance without being detected
- Skip tracing to find lost loves or people who owe money
- Investigating backgrounds of potential employees or spouses
- Searching public records online and at the courthouse
- Catching a cheating spouse and gathering evidence for divorce cases
- Finding runaway teenagers
- Doing diligent searches connected with adoptions and estates
- Tracking down burglars, thieves, pickpockets, and purse snatchers
- Advanced techniques and business advice for those interested in starting their own investigative or background screening agency

Along the way, Brown shares fascinating stories from his cases that highlight his clever methods for tracking down evidence and helping his clients find out what they need to know.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Introduction
  7. Part 1: Private Investigation, Business or Fun?
    1. 1 The Making of a PI
      1. Tracking Down America’s First PI
      2. Breaking into the Business
        1. Retrieving Public Records
        2. Doing In-House Investigations
        3. Serving Subpoenas for a Living
        4. Skip Tracing, Finding Deadbeat Parents, and Locating Missing Individuals
        5. Hiring the Hired Gun
      3. Thinking Sideways: The Key to Success
      4. Looking Beyond the Flash: The Other Side of PI Work
    2. 2 The Path to the Professional PI
      1. Getting the Experience You Need: Coffee and Donuts Optional
      2. Obtaining Your Licenses
      3. Getting Reciprocity: Working Across State Lines
      4. Protecting Yourself with Insurance or Bonds
      5. Pulling Back the Curtains on Privacy Laws
      6. Finding Your Clients
      7. The Internet and Your Business
    3. 3 Tools of the PI Trade
      1. Getting Behind the Wheel
      2. Shooting Your Subjects…with a Camera
        1. Megapixels
        2. Storage Media
        3. Zoom Capabilities
        4. Taking Pictures or Video in Low or No Light
        5. Lights, Camera, Action: Putting Your Camera to Work
      3. Choosing the Right Computer
      4. Stocking Up on Peripheral Equipment
      5. Harnessing the Latest Tablet Computer Technology
      6. Looking into a Good Pair of Binoculars
      7. Converting Video to DVD
      8. Recording the Facts
  8. Part 2: Getting the Scoop
    1. 4 Skip Tracing
      1. Zeroing In on the Right Search
      2. Playing the Name Game
        1. Knowing What Names to Use in Your Search
        2. Getting to the Root of Nicknames
      3. Relying on Family and Friends for Info
      4. Harnessing the Social Network
      5. Getting to Your Subjects Through Their Spouses
      6. Searching Free Public Databases
      7. Wanted Dead or Alive—Searching the Death Master File
      8. Curing the Plague of Social Security Truncation
      9. Sending a Message via the SSA or IRS
      10. Looking Behind Bars: When Your Skip Is a Jailbird
      11. Using Military Locators
      12. Putting It All Together
    2. 5 Prowling the Courthouse
      1. Going to Court: Accessing Courthouse Records
      2. The Local County Courthouse
        1. Making the Official Records Speak
        2. The Property Appraiser
      3. The State Civil Court System
        1. Higher Civil Courts
        2. Lower Civil Courts
      4. State Criminal Courts
      5. Federal Civil and Criminal Courts
      6. Bankruptcy Courts
      7. Reducing or Eliminating Your Alimony Payments
    3. 6 Professional PI Databases
      1. Getting the 411 Quickly and Efficiently
      2. Knowing What’s in the Data Mix
      3. Researching the Big Three: The Credit Bureaus
        1. When to Look
        2. What You Might Find in the Credit Report
        3. Credit Headers
      4. Logging On to Subscription Databases
        1. Public Records
        2. Proprietary Data
    4. 7 Telephone Secrets You Need to Know
      1. Verifying Nonpublished Numbers
      2. Breaking the Number
      3. Finding Other Sources for Nonpublished Numbers
      4. Tracking Down the Location of Pay Phones
      5. Giving Caller ID the Runaround
        1. Dial *67 Before Dialing the Phone Number
        2. Use a Spoofing Service
      6. The Myth of the Untraceable Prepaid Cell Phone
      7. Mining Cell Phones and Smartphones for Data
        1. Breaking the Cell Number
        2. Three FAQs about Cell Phones
        3. Examining Cell Phones for Other Data
  9. Part 3: On-the-Job Training
    1. 8 Techniques of Interview and Interrogation
      1. Making Preinterview Preparations
      2. Getting Witnesses to Talk to You
      3. Interrogating Suspects
      4. Taking Copious Notes
      5. Recording the Interview
    2. 9 The Neighborhood Investigation
      1. Neighbors Know More Than You Think
      2. The Mechanics of Investigating a Neighborhood
        1. Knocking on Doors
        2. Finding the Getaway Car
      3. Working Premise Liability Cases
      4. Being Discreet with the Neighbors
      5. Keeping an Eye Out for Other Trouble
    3. 10 Stationary Surveillance
      1. Picking the Site
        1. Fixed Surveillance
        2. Fixed-Mobile Surveillance
      2. Setting Up the Cover
      3. Listening to What Empty Houses Have to Tell You
      4. Dealing with Pesky Neighbors
      5. Getting Rousted by the Cops
      6. Eternal Vigilance
    4. 11 Moving Surveillance
      1. Going It Alone
        1. Know in Advance Where the Subject Is Going
        2. Follow the Other Person
        3. Plan Your Exit
        4. Don’t Play Follow the Leader
        5. Do Play Follow the Leader
      2. Effective Foot Surveillance
      3. Two’s Company
        1. Communication
        2. Positioning
        3. Information
      4. Getting into Gated Communities
      5. The Effective Use of Cover and Traffic Lights
        1. Keep Cover Between the Subject and Yourself
        2. Play the Lights
      6. Avoiding the Confrontation
      7. Using GPS for Surveillance
    5. 12 Tricks of the Trade
      1. Getting Down and Dirty: Trash Covers
      2. Pretexting: Using Lies to Get the 411
        1. Identifying the Subject
        2. Finding Employment Information
        3. Getting Travel Details
      3. Getting Your Subject to Leave the House
      4. Proving the Hotel Stay
  10. Part 4: In the Field
    1. 13 Clues to Infidelity
      1. Trusting Your Gut
      2. Behavioral Changes
      3. Hang-Up Telephone Calls
      4. Need a Little Privacy?
      5. Reviewing the Bills
        1. Credit-Card Charges
        2. Cell Phone Calls
      6. Missing in Action
      7. Listen Up
      8. Right to Privacy on the Spouse’s Computer
      9. Diseases of the Body and the Heart
      10. Counseling Your Client
    2. 14 Family Law Cases: The PI’s Bread and Butter
      1. How a PI Can Help
      2. A Bird in the Hand
      3. Who’s Watching the Kids?
      4. Working the Gray Areas
        1. Using GPS Trackers
        2. Hidden Cameras and Expectation of Privacy
      5. The Ex, the Children, and the Boyfriend
    3. 15 Bringing Home Runaway Teenagers
      1. Evaluating the Situation
      2. Handling the Police Department
      3. Tracking ’Em Down
      4. Checking Out the Ex
      5. Rely on Other Parents
      6. Plaster the Country with Photographs
      7. Checking the Credit
      8. Tracking the Cell Phone
    4. 16 The Ins and Outs of Electronic Surveillance
      1. Bugged or Tapped: It’s Terminology
      2. Evaluating the Threat
      3. Finding Taps in Your Home
      4. The Outside Job
        1. Making Your Own Butt Set
        2. How Phones Work
        3. Locating the Junction Box
        4. Finding Your Phone Line
        5. Legalities
    5. 17 Criminal Defense Cases
      1. Guilt or Innocence: Does It Make a Difference?
      2. The Discovery Evidence
      3. The Crime Scene
      4. Witnesses
      5. Prison and Jail Visits
      6. Informants
        1. When Does a Private Investigator Use an Informant?
        2. Can You Pay Informants?
  11. Part 5: Advanced Techniques
    1. 18 Background Investigations: Uncovering the Dirt
      1. Reasons for Doing Backgrounds
      2. General Background Checks: Obtaining the Basic Goods
        1. Finding the Name
        2. Finding the Date of Birth
        3. The Local Sheriff’s Office
        4. The Driving History
        5. Locating the Address
      3. The Criminal in Our Background
      4. The Sometimes Not-So-Civil Cases
      5. Starting Your Own Background Company
        1. Starting a Brand New Company
        2. Obeying the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
        3. Creating Your Own Website
        4. The Client Interface
        5. Working the Application
      6. Pre-Employment Background Checks
        1. The Criminal Record Search
        2. The Credit Report
        3. Driving Records
        4. The Social Security Trace
        5. Educational Verification
    2. 19 The Diligent Search: Adoption and Estates
      1. What Is the Law?
      2. Locate the Last-Known or Current Address
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
        3. The Form
      3. Find the Last-Known Employer
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      4. Check with the Regulatory Agencies
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      5. Contact the Families and the Relatives
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      6. Find Out Whether He’s Dead or Alive
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      7. Look Up the Telephone Numbers
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      8. Inquire at Local Law Enforcement Agencies
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      9. Search State Law Enforcement Records
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      10. Search the Prison System
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      11. Inquire at Local Hospitals
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      12. Utility Company Records
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      13. Ask the Military
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      14. Check with the Tax Man
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      15. Search Professional PI Databases
        1. The Law Requires…
        2. The Reality
      16. Filing Your Affidavit
      17. How Much to Charge?
    3. 20 Evidence, Statements, Reports, and Bookkeeping
      1. Sifting Through the Evidence
      2. Taking Recorded and Signed Statements
        1. The Format for the Recorded Statement
        2. Formatting the Signed Statement
      3. Originals and Duplicates
      4. The Digital Age
        1. Video
        2. Recorded Statements
      5. Superior Reports Are the Mark of the Professional PI
        1. FBI FD-302 Reports
        2. Photographs
      6. Show Me the Money
        1. Covering Administrative Costs
        2. Collecting a Retainer
    4. 21 The Judges’ Chambers
      1. Just the Facts, Ma’am
      2. Accepting the Subpoena
      3. Everything You Wanted to Know About Depositions
      4. Work Product from the Attorney’s Office
      5. The Grand Jury
      6. The Cross-Examination
  12. Appendixes
    1. A Glossary
    2. B State Requirements for Telephonic Recording
    3. C Sample Client Retainer Contract
    4. D Affidavit of Diligent Search
  13. Index
  14. About the Author