Tools used by Police and Private Investigators
NOTE: Please watch the videos above. They contain a lot of useful information about privacy and trace tools used by government and Private Investigators.
Following companies are used by Law Enforcement Agencies to perform background checks
- CHOICEPOINT (BECAME LEXISNEXIS)
- SEISINT (BECAME LEXISNESIX)
Following tools are used by Private Investigators
- telegorilla (part of Palltech)
- gorillatrace (part of Palltech)
- online investigation network (OINK) Shut down
- zoominfo (business search)
- peoplefinder.net (part of Palltech)
- zabasearch.com (not very effective)
- people.yahoo.com (not very effective but open to public)
Using above tools a private investigator can find out the full name and address of a person within 30 seconds (all he/she needs is a phone number). In 5 minutes an average investigator can find out details such as gender, race, previous employment records, political preference and even the sexual orientation.
Today's private databases (managed by private companies) are more powerful and robust than those used by the FBI. Many law enforcement agencies actually outsource people lookups to private companies.
By far the biggest record holder is LexisNexis. They have consumed countless amounts of companies to create one of the most powertful lookup tools ever created (note: private individuals cannot buy records from them).
Everything has changed with digital age because paper documents were transformed into electronic files and are now stored on servers. The OCR technology (that transforms scanned images of documents into text) is becoming more and more advanced.
Did you know that every time you type in a re-captcha (the squiggly text) you're typing in text which was not recognized by the OCR?
Consider the British Telecom experiment, which shows how fast paper documents can be transformed into files. In less than 7 days they were able to scan and transform all of their old paper phone books. This was a massive amount of paper.
Digitalization of documents has become a business. Companies contact dentist offices and offer to transform their paper documents into files.
But it's not just Telecom companies that collect a lot of your private data. Did you know that at one point "Domino's Pizza" had the biggest consumer database in the United States? That's right. If you are wanted you'll be hiding from everyone, but would you consider hiding from your Pizza parlor? U.S Marshall service think you wouldn't, so they bought the Database along with a flurry of other Law Enforcement agencies.
Think about this for a second.
This is not like remotely activating "On-star" to track your car's location (yes, they do that). This is you ordering a pizza!
Another unexpected example is health insurance companies buying information about your shopping habits. A large super market corporation would advise the insurer that you frequently buy beer, so it would probably make sense to raise your premiums.
So why are these companies collecting all this data on us? They're not are doing it so they can sell it to the police or the insurance companies(although they do). They do it for money.
If the company knows you're at a beach and the weather is sunny it can send you SMS message saying "Hey Rob, did you buy sun tan? There's a store around the corner selling it!"
As you can see the advertising is laser targeted and very valuable for corporations.
Final thought for this article is a painfully obvious fact. A lot of data collected by Private Investigators and Companies is what's known as "self-contributed data". This is not information collected using secret methods and subpoenas, this is information you post on your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. Oftentimes this information is so sensitive you would not share it with your parents, but you choose to share it with the world instead.