In the digital era, our lives tend to be laid bare for everyone to see. This makes it all the more worrying when someone falls off the grid. There are a number of reasons why someone might disappear—perhaps foul play is involved, or perhaps they don’t want to be found. They may have vanished yesterday or have been under the radar for years. In either case, if your concern is how to find a missing person, there are a number of options to explore.
Today, we’re going to examine some of the tactics that you can try to locate someone who is missing in your state or territory. If these options fail, an expert missing persons investigator can make quick work of turning up new leads and tracking the individual in question down. Depending on the urgency of the missing person investigation, you can choose whether to make your own inquiries or call in the cavalry.
- Should You File a Missing Person’s Report?
If you’ve simply lost track of a relative or old work associate, want to find your adoptive parents, or hope to locate an ex who has defaulted on child support, there is likely no need to get law enforcement involved. However, if you fear that the disappeared individual may be in immediate danger or may have been abducted, the first step is to file a missing person’s report. In the case of a kidnapping, you can dial 911. How the authorities respond will depend on the nature of the disappearance and how long they’ve been missing.
- Take Your Missing Person Investigation Online
If you’re wondering how to find a missing person in this day and age, then there’s a good chance you’ve underestimated the power of Google! You might be able to locate the individual’s social media presence, see when they were last active online, and discover new connections or leads to follow.
In addition, by running searches with other information you have about the person who is missing, you might find traces of them on the websites of employers, social venues, sports and hobby associations, family tree organizations, and court houses. You can also check the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, and even upload the information of the person you are trying to find.
- Check in With Friends, Family, Co-workers, and Known Associates
Following the trail of someone’s daily life—the people they usually connect with, and the places that they normally visit—can often shed light on what has happened. If you know something about the life of the person you’re looking for, you may be able to cast a net of discovery by working through their contacts and retracing their habitual steps. You can also check to see if they used location-sharing apps with loved ones that might still be active on their phone.
- Contact Local Hospitals, Shelters, Jails, and the Coroner’s Office
If the individual in question vanished recently, there is merit in ruling out the possibility that they are somewhere nearby but unable to share their location. Working your way through these locations can eliminate the possibility of accident, shielding, incarceration, or death. Keep in mind that depending on the nature of your connection, not everyone will be able to assist. When contacting hospitals, give a detailed description of the missing person’s appearance so that they can be identified if they’ve been in an accident but aren’t carrying ID.
- Launch a Campaign to Find the Missing Person
Reaching as many minds as possible by harnessing viral information sharing is one of the most effective tools in a missing person investigation. This can be achieved by creating missing person fliers to put up around the neighborhood, sharing the poster and other information on social media, contacting local news outlets, and even setting up a crowdfunding page to support your search.
- Turn to Public, State, and Federal Records
When trying to trace someone for who you have no recent information, there are several record-keeping avenues to explore. The DMV may be able to release current and past addresses in certain states, while state records may be able to reveal things like marriage, divorce, crime, or bankruptcy. You can also utilize the Freedom of Information Act to request federal records from the United States Department of Justice
- Hire a Missing Person Investigator
At times, a missing person investigation requires the skill of a professional. An expert missing persons investigator from Lauth Investigations can take the search much further than you can, leveraging licensed access to the same databases used by law enforcement, digital forensics skills, the capacity to perform detailed background checks, and much more. Learn more about our expert approach to how to find a missing person, or reach out to our team for a no-commitment consultation. Finding people is what we do, and we’re always ready to spring into action on behalf of our clients.