How much does it cost to trace someone?

Birmingham detectives

The need to find someone who has gone missing, who is evading detection or with whom contact has been lost is a common situation. There are numerous methods and approaches that can be employed to find someone ranging from private or personal superficial enquiry to in depth and comprehensive professional tracing. These processes can involve a variety of costs and expenses.

People need to find a missing or absent person for wide range of reasons and purposes:

  • A person is missing, and this is unusual and uncharacteristic and there is concern for their safety and wellbeing.
  • A person is in a relationship which may be suspected to be harmful or abusive and they have been isolated from their network of family and friends; those who care about them want to locate them and check on their wellbeing.
  • An argument or breakdown of relationship has occurred within a family and the person has gone missing or been out of contact as a result of this.
  • Historic care proceedings have resulted in removal of a child or adoption, and they are now an adult and wanting to make contact with family members.
  • Family members have lost contact and now need to share important information about a bereavement or legal matter.
  • A person has lost touch with an old school mate, long lost friend or ex-partner and now wish to regain contact and perhaps rekindle past relationships.
  • An employee has failed to attend work for some time or make contact and there are matters outstanding that need to be addressed.
  • A tenancy dispute wherein the tenant has now gone into hiding and needs to be found to address matters of damage or monies owing.
  • A debtor has gone off the radar owing money that needs to be recouped and they need to be located to take action regarding this.
  • There are current legal proceedings in place and an individual or legal firm need to locate an individual to serve court documents regarding this.

The different reasons that a person needs to be found, the timescales required regarding this, and the extent of the consequences or significance of this person not being found can impact on the methods employed to achieve this, and the level of expense that is justifiable and acceptable to invest in the search.

There are actions that an individual can undertake themselves in order to find a missing person and that are cost free; if there is significant concern for the safety or wellbeing of a missing person and their absence is unusual or uncharacteristic it is important to report them to the police as a missing person. It is not necessary to wait 24 hours to do this and this is obviously free to do. An individual can also attempt contact with the missing person through telephone, text or social media. They can make contact with the missing person’s friends, family members, workplace and colleagues to see if anyone has heard from the person or knows of their whereabouts. An individual can visit the current or last known address of the person and check for indicators that the person is or has been home recently. They can also search the person’s social media accounts to ascertain if the missing person has been online recently and try to gauge their state of mental and physical health or look for any indicators of where that person may be or any plans they had.

If immediate action does not uncover the whereabouts of a person, if a person has been missing for a longer period of time or if the search is for someone whom an individual has lost contact with over many years, there are other methods available for no cost to try to track down a person’s current whereabouts. Electoral roll, census and directory enquiries information is free to access and available within the public domain as well as birth and death records. These can be a helpful and free method of finding out where a person is or was last known to be. However, the information available to the general pubic is limited and people can also opt out of much of this type of information sharing meaning that if they actively do not wish to be found, it’s unlikely these methods will reach a satisfactory resolution.

Charities are set up both within the UK and internationally to aid in the search for missing persons in relation to the finding of family or loved ones, people separated through war or disaster and families that have become disconnected through historic care proceedings. Charities such as The Salvation Army, The British Red Cross and Reunite can offer support and advice as well as practical help in the search for a missing person and there will be no charge for this. However, they will not support with finding a missing person that needs to be located for legal or financial reasons.

There are searches advertised online for free where it is claimed a person’s details can be typed in and tracing information accessed; these are worth trying as save the need to trawl round various sites and agencies to access data. However, it is worth knowing that such free searches do not provide access to any information not readily available within the public domain but perhaps offer a more efficient means of accessing it all in the same place. The problem being that if a person does not want to be found, they will not show up on this data.

If the need to find a missing or absent person is time sensitive or urgent, or if the consequences of not finding the person are significant, it makes sense to employ the services of a professional who has access to much greater information and resources than is available to the general public and who can successfully complete tracing within a much shorter time scale with greater certainty and accuracy. 

There are numerous costs advertised online by companies claiming to offer professional people tracing services. Many of these will grab attention by offering to find someone for £25 or similar.

This seems like a very low cost to pay but when this is actually fully looked into, the £25 will normally gain you access to the data that is free within the public domain already. Read on and you will find that there are further costs associated with every next step of the people search and before you know it, you are looking at a complicated and sizeable (not to mention unexpected) bill. Similarly, there are companies advertising “no trace no fee” arrangements to find a missing person; whilst this seems like a win: win situation, it will not be as straightforward as it seems, and it is likely that companies needing to offer such incentives are the most competent or hold the best reputation. There are likely to be hidden fees that add up to an unexpected bill. 

The best and most experienced professional people tracing agencies will be able to provide a clear and upfront cost for a comprehensive people tracing package that will not incur extra costs or fees along the way. These companies do this every day and know what to expect, how long a trace will take and what they will need to do to ensure its success. You can expect to pay between £350 and £500 for a professional, legitimate people tracing service; this will need to be paid before work commences on the trace and details will be provided of what information you can expect to receive and when in regard to finding the missing person.

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