Ethics for Locates of Missing Persons and others

A huge topic I hear in discussion amongst investigators both in the private sector and in the public sector is in regards to the ethical handling of person locates. Typically people think of skip tracing when they think of this topic but an ever growing area is in Missing Person locates.

Skip Tracing is generally applied to the industry when one is searching for someone that owes someone money, needs to be served official court documents, has other legal matters pending. This is very straight forward and definitely has an obvious legal need for the client to require finding the person. But what if the line is not so clearly defined?

A good example would be for an adoptive child seeking their paternal parents or the parents seeking a child they adopted out in the past. Another one is long lost friends, old neighbors, lost lovers etc. In these type of cases the legal need is not clearly defined and leaves a huge gray area as to whether they have the legal right to hire some one to locate them or not.

In these cases special care must be taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved. As a general rule I take the same position as the NCISS on the matter, and I highly encourage other investigators to do the same. In layman’s terms if the client does not have an obvious and apparent legal reason for locating the individual I always tell the client I will locate the person, make initial contact, and give the person being located the client’s contact information and ask if they would like me to give the client their contact information.

Here is the official NCISS ( National Council of Investigation and Security Services) position:

“A member shall, prior to providing a person any personally identifying or location information of an individual, conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure that the person has a legitimate business or legal interest in obtaining that information. When such due diligence is not possible or appropriate, or if the person appears to not have a legal or business interest, the person shall be informed that their contact information will be provided to the subject they are seeking and the personal identifying information of the subject they are seeking will only be provided to the person if that party consents.

Now, why would I do that. Well, what if the client is really looking for his ex wife that left him 20 years ago to do harm to her? What if it is an old girl friend that got dumped and she wants to stalk him and find out what he is doing? Perhaps a child that was adopted wants to seek revenge for some unknown happening in the past. These all contain real and present danger’s to someone involved in the case. As a professional private investigator one of these cases would fall into the “My Worst Nightmare” realm of cases if it happened to me. I simply couldn’t sleep at night if someone got harmed because I did not perform my due diligence in the investigation and only was concerned with making the sale.

My biggest words of advice to every investigator I speak to would be; make sure it is ethical, moral, and legal to do; if it feels wrong it probably is wrong; how would it look on the front page of your local newspaper; and lastly professionals act professionally, get paid as a professional and are viewed as Pro’s in their field. Heed these words and you will succeed. Sure, some clients get mad, some clients walk away, but in the end I know, no one got hurt on my watch.

~ John L. Morris

A Northern Colorado, licensed and insured, Greeley Private Investigator

Call today for your 100% FREE Private Investigator Consultation (970) 673-5719

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