People become "missing" for a variety of reasons. Most missing persons can be found through the paper trails they leave behind. If the person has taken flight from the authorities for criminal acts, it is not likely this person will leave behind the typical "trails" that investigators look for.
Someone who is simply avoiding lawsuits, bill collectors or who has simply moved around or lost touch will not be willing to make an entire identity change and will frequently leave a trail you can easily follow. If the person has taken flight, you have to hope that person "slipped up" somewhere.
The first step is to try and establish IDENTIFIERS. An identifier is a piece of personal information about a person that separates that individual from all other persons with the same name. The best three identifiers, in addition to the exact full name are:
1.Social Security Number
2.Date of Birth, or age
3.Last known address (less than 7 years old)
Without at least one identifier, you will likely be spending time locating persons with the same name and then trying to determine whether it's the same person you're seeking.
Your first step is to check the phone book for similar names in areas you feel the person may be living. If you don't actually find the person, you may end up contacting a relative. It's amazing how many "missing" persons were listed in the phone book, waiting to be found.
There are nationwide phone records available on CD ROM from most software retailers that can scan for a given name or similar names. If they don't locate the name outright, they are great for finding relatives. These directories are also useful for identifying former neighbors who are usually willing to provide information about the person that you are seeking.
Assuming the person is still alive, he or she will generally leave some sort of paper trail which can be used to locate them. Do you know a GENERAL AREA where you feel the person might be?
Most people have a driver's license somewhere, but the records are maintained state-by-state. This is public information which can be obtained by writing to the State motor vehicles department, and there is always a nominal fee charged.
Most people have a credit profile. Most any investigator, for a small fee, can obtain the non confidential portion of this credit report which can give you an address history to work with.
If you have a general area where the person may be, many research services can check to see if the person has utility services in that area, such as electric, gas, cable TV and water. These records are particularly helpful regardless of whether the person you are seeking is renting an apartment or owns a home.
If the person owns real estate, those records are public and could provide many leads. Check with each county clerk for those records, or contact an information broker with database access to nationwide real property and mortgage records.
If you feel the person may be deceased, an early check with the Social Security Administration master death index would save you many hours of research if your hunch is correct.
What else do you know about the person? If he/she is working as a licensed or certified professional, you should check the licensing and certification boards in various states to see if the person is listed there. Do you know any relatives or friends of the person? Call them up. If they won't cooperate, there are services available to trace phone records from a given person which may lead you to the individual you seek. Is the person a voter? Try checking local registration records.
Women are usually more difficult to find than men since they change their names with marriage. A search of marriage records or a phone disc search (using first name only) would be in order. The County usually maintains marriage records.
Only when you have exhausted all the public records in your search, is it time to turn to a professional.
Worldwide Locator - This site offers a search and service for locating
active duty soliders.
Coast Guard Directory - Searchable database of active, retired and reserve U.S.Coast Guard personnel. www.concentric.net/~fsiegel/html/search.shtml
Marine Search - Search for the U.S. Marines located throughout the United States and abroad. www.thefew.com/search.html
Mates'Search - Small, searchable database of exsailors. www.engr.ukans.edu/~chyong/matesearch/
Military Locator Service - Here you can find many different databases which will aid you in searching for active duty personnel, overseas personnel, duty losses, reserves and military bases.
Military Personnel Records - The NRPC is a repostory of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century.
Veteran's Archive - Provides listings of war veterans including navy, airforce, marines and coast guard. www.wavenet.com/~beerborn/index.html
Hmmm where's my partner...