I’m in no way a licensed private investigator. I’m not even sure that I would want to become one. But I have been exploring a bit how this works, and sort of the lore around it.

One thing I’ve always been curious about around the PI-types as we see represented in media, is these “special” databases we sometimes see, where they can do “deep research” onto a person — or say look up license plates. πŸ”Ž Minor boring stuff like that.

Turns out there is a whole industry around that, which I won’t pretend to be very versed in. Around this topic, I found two main documents which referenced maybe a dozen or so variations on public record searches as a paid “information service,” and from those have basically boiled down the ones that have piqued my curiosity the most being LexisNexis Accurint and Thomson Reuters Clear.

Outside of PI-types, we see a lot of materials marketed towards also people who do legal research, some social media searching, and fraud detection and prevention and others (not to mention criminal investigation, which is outside my interest area). πŸ‘£

This first video from Thomson Reuters is fun because it makes use of the “crazy wall” TV trope:

And one from the many different Accurint videos out there:

The privacy/data protection cross-over on these videos should be pretty obvious. In another one from TLOxp, we hear the mention of public records “plus proprietary technology”:

It doesn’t seem to be the most discussed topic ever, but I would wager that for certain of the information services operating in this space, that at least a few of them must be purchasing and correlating data from other agencies, such as the dreaded data-brokers.

It’s something I’ll continue researching and publishing about, as the subject seems vast, deep, and curiouser and curiouser the further in you go…

See also: survey results data of databases used by private investigators.