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Guide – 10 Tools to Find Missing Persons 2021

For any court matter to proceed, all parties and witnesses need to be served with documents. If they cannot be located then this has serious repercussions on the speed and outcome of the court action. Of course, there are other reasons why you may wish to find people apart from court matters, such as debt or asset recovery, to assist in background searches, curiosity, old lovers wanting to re-unite, parents monitoring their children’s whereabouts, witness testimonies, and probate – heirs and beneficiaries of wills.

Most process servers / private investigators/mercantile/commercial agents provide skip tracing services on a sliding fee schedule. Clients can stipulate to what extent they wish searches to continue. The skip tracer may have luck and locate the person on the first search, but in the worst-case scenario, they may have to exhaust all searches including pay-per-view searches on private, corporate, and government databases.

Thirty years ago most skip tracers or private investigators would simply rely on the nearest telephone book and start calling possible friends and relatives. Times have changed. Now there is a vast array of information available, both public and private, free and pay per view, for locating persons of interest, most of it available at your fingertips on the internet.

Lets examine a few of these.

The Australian Federal Police provide the following guide for finding missing persons.

Search engines

These are some of the best resources to gather information on persons of interest. Most people enjoy self-promoting themselves and their successes on the internet by plastering their private information particularly if they are business owners. There are many search engines available such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, DuckDuckgo,, and to name a few. When searching, it is advised that you use variations of the person’s name/s as including maiden names, aliases, nicknames, titles, and police/military ranks. Be sure to search on other information such as their last known addresses, past and current employers, social groups, and other key information you have.

Social Media / Social clubs

Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Depending on the person you are looking for and whether they use social media and if so, then what type of privacy settings they may use, you may be able to ascertain information such as their phone number, home address, school addresses, place of work, date of birth, friends, interests, movements and group/club memberships. You may need to become a friend to get them to drop their guard and re4lease information. Be also wary that many professional skips you misinformation/disinformation to make it difficult for skip tracers to locate them.Members of social clubs such as bowling clubs, Fishing clubs, Scouts, church groups, charities may be quite happy to share information with you if you ask the correct questions to the right people without being too obvious.

Government Departments

Electoral roles and public record The Electoral Roll in Australia plays a vital role in many types of research including the study of genealogy. Historical rolls provide an insight and a certainty as to where an ancestor was located at a given point in time. Whilst many of these records are visible within libraries in Microfiche formats, a number have also been transcribed and are available via an online database search.

Current records are also available and can be useful for skip tracing and finding people. As voting is mandatory and there is a requirement to be registered, the vast majority of Australians are on the electoral roll and these are available for public viewing.

Corrective Services

All States have their own Corrective Services Department.

Corrective Services NSW runs the state’s correctional centers, supervises offenders in the community, and delivers programs to reduce reoffending, support reintegration, and build safer communities.

Department of Fair Trading

DFT holds a license register that includes the following information on licensed contractors which may be useful :

(a)  the name, date of birth, and business address of the contractor license holder,

(b)  the contractor license number and the category of residential building work or specialist work that the contractor license authorizes the holder to contract to do,

(e)  whether the contractor license, if held by an individual, is endorsed,

(g)  if the holder is a partnership, the names, dates of birth, and addresses of the members of the partnership,

(h)  if the holder is a corporation, the names, dates of birth, and addresses of the directors of the corporation,

The above information may be useful in running searches on the subject’s date of birth, business name, and fellow officeholders.

ABN Lookup

This database can give you an idea as to which suburb the subject may be based in according to the registered postcode of the ABN. It will also tell you what business names they are trading under and the possible location by postcode. The history tab will also supply further information.


ASIC offers a vast range of searches including Names of companies and organizations, both in Australia and New Zealand, which will include dates of birth of officeholders, residential and registered office of directors and other officeholders, the status of the company, banned directors, financial advisors details, AFS licensees, credit licensees, auditors, liquidators, and other financial professionals.

Authorized Government database/information resellers – e.g. Cleardocs, Comdeeds, Docscentre, eCompanies, and CITEC.

CITEC  provides a  Personal Name Extract search which will include information on an individual such as their date and place of birth, companies in which they have a recorded role, the role(s) held the date(s) of appointment, and cessation and their address.

Private databases

Trading Reference Australia (TRA) – This is a pay per view or subscriber database that allows you to search a subject according to various identifiers such as date  of birth, names, past addresses, current address, next of kin, drivers license, telenumbers, vehicle registrations and drivers licenses etc

RP Data – is a subscription database that can allow you to pinpoint properties owned by the subject, who the new owners are, which realtors were managing them, and photos and interior floor plans of properties.

Yellow pages -provides potential alternative addresses and telebnumbers for your subjects’ businesses.

White pages – has become quite outdated over the years but still has a current list of landlines and mobiles for surnames across Australia. Can be useful for calling potential close relatives particularly if the subjects name is unusual.

Reverse Australia – This is a useful database if you have only a telenumber on the subject.

Australia Lookup – useful only if you have the subject’s last name and initial. Provides results Australia


Be sure to conduct a through door knock of last known addresses for subject residential and work addresses, clubs, pubs, churches, and sporting and trade organizations. A polite demeanor always works best. A door knock may tip off the subject that you are looking for him/her. Use caution. Ask the right questions to the right people and you may have quick success

Next of Kin/Colleagues and Associates – ex-wives and ex-husbands are a specialty. If your subject has gone through a bitter divorce, the Ex more than likely will be very willing to tell you where the subject is currently residing or working. Disgruntled friends/work colleagues may be similarly helpful. Children are likely to give up information relatively easily but tread with caution. It is not in your interest for an adult to call the police.Court records

All courts have a daily court list. If you suspect your subject may be appearing for a hearing then you should monitor these.

Red Cross

International Red Cross If you are unable to locate a loved one or friend who has been impacted by a current disaster event, the American Red Cross can help you locate them if they meet certain criteria.

Public advertisements/notices seeking information

Advertisements/notices have a minimal chance of success and are generally used so you can show courts that you have been exhaustive in your search.


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