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How to Find Someone using Skip Trace Techniques


Finding Someone in Order to Serve Him or Her

When you sue a person, you file your lawsuit against that person, using his or her legal name and any aliases. You also need that person’s address. Often, it is easy to get this information if you do not already have it, by looking at any documentation you may have about the legal dispute. But, sometimes this information is not easily available to you. Below are some ways to track someone down.

  1. Send a letter to the person’s last address.  Under your return address, write “Return Service Requested." Do Not Forward. ” If the person filed an address change with the post office, you will get the letter back with a new address. Get more information from the United States Postal Service.

  2. Go to the local post office covering the area for the person’s last known address. Ask if the person left a forwarding address.

  3. Call "411" for the city or cities where you think the person may live or work.  If the person is listed, you may be able to get his or her address. Or you may only get the phone number, but you can use the phone number to try other things to get the address.

  4. Search for free online telephone directories. You can do an Internet search to try to locate the person. Some Internet searches are free, and if the person is listed, you can get their phone number or address.

  5. Search online on sites that search for people. You may be able to pay a small fee to an Internet company to give you the address or phone number of the person you are looking for. In that case, the more details you have about the person you are searching for (like date of birth or approximate age), the more accurate the results you may get.

  6. Search social networking sites. You can search popular social networking sites where people often list their names, location, and perhaps other information you can find helpful. Or, you may be able to email them through the social networking site if you think they may cooperate with you and give you information so you can serve them with legal papers.

  7. Use a reverse telephone directory. If you only know the person’s phone number, you can get the address from a reverse telephone directory, which allows you to search by a telephone number to get the name and address of that telephone number’s subscriber. But the address and name will not be in the reverse directory if the phone number is unlisted.

    • You can also use a reverse phone directory online. There are several of these. Just search for “reverse phone directory.”

    • You can also look at a reverse telephone directory at the main branch of your public library.

  8. If you know any of the person’s relatives or friends, contact them for information. Call, write, or e-mail them and ask them if they have any contact information for him or her. They may not have all the information, but even if they only know what city he or she may have moved to, the information can be helpful to you. You can also explain to them why you need to find this person, and even if they do not want to give you the person’s contact information, they may be willing to contact him or her on your behalf and give him or her your contact information so he or she can get in touch with you and find out what you want. In some cases, like, for example, a divorce, the other person may also want to be divorced, so it would be to his or her advantage to give you a way to get in touch with them.

  9. If you know any of the person’s past employers, contact them for information. Ask the last known employer (or even employers before that) if they have any information about the person’s whereabouts, even if it is just a city where he or she may have moved, or the name and address of the new employer.

  10. If the person you are trying to find owns property, search property records.  

    • The county tax assessor's office can search the tax rolls for you. The tax rolls in the assessor’s office list the names and addresses of property owners in the county by both owner name and address of the property. The tax assessor's address and phone number are also listed in the government pages of your phone book. It is usually in the county section under ASSESSOR.

    • You can also get this information from the county registrar/recorder's office. The property owners are listed by name, and each listing includes the location of the property owned by that person. The address and phone number of your county registrar/recorder’s office are also listed in the government pages of your phone book. It is usually in the county section under RECORDER.

If you have any reason to think the person may be in prison or jail, follow these steps:

  1. For California State Prison: Call the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). You must have either the inmate's CDC number or the inmate's full name and date of birth to get information. Find the phone number for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Inmate Locator. Find a list of California correctional facilities.

    • For Federal Prison: Click for theFederal Bureau of Prison's Inmate Locator database. You can search the database using the inmate's first and last name or the inmate's register number, DCDC number, FBI Number, or INS Number. Find a list of federal correctional facilities at theFederal Bureau of Prisons. Fill in whatever information you know (like the state or city you are looking for) and hit “submit.”

    • For County Jail: Call the jail. You can usually find the phone number and address for the jail by calling the county sheriff. Find the contact information for the county sheriffs in California.If you do not know if a person is in a state or federal prison or county jail, search for the person in state and federal prisons and the counties where you think the person might be incarcerated.

Be creative!!!You do not need to know where someone lives or works in order to serve him or her with legal papers. You only need to find the person to give him or her your legal papers through a server. The more you know about someone and his or her habits or the places he or she frequents, the easier it will be to figure out a good way to serve him or her with legal papers. So, even if you do not know someone’s address but you know that at a given time he or she generally goes to a certain coffee shop, or to the gym, or to some other fixed place, you can have a server there to give him or her legal papers. You may also make a plan to meet the person somewhere and then have a server with you to give him or her the paperwork when you meet up. You can also hire a private investigator to help you find someone.

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