How to trace someone

private detectives

The purpose of a person trace is to determine the correct and current address that the person is resident at.

A person’s current address may be required by individuals of businesses for many reasons:

  • Debt: the person may have gone into hiding following getting into debt and may be avoiding consequences for this or having to pay back the money owed by not being found.
  • Legal proceedings; you may be an individual, business or legal firm involved in litigation with a person who has gone off the radar. You need a home address to serve or issue court papers and documents.
  • A fine is due to be paid: a parking enforcement agency or similar may need to find out the address to pursue a parking fine or penalty.
  • Absent employee: an employee may have not returned to work and the employer has unresolved issues they need to address with them.
  • A missing person; a person may have gone missing and you are worried about their safety and welfare and want to check they are ok.
  • Lost contact; you may have lost contact with a family member, old friend or ex-partner and wish to rekindle past relationships.
  • Important news; you may be out of contact with a family member or past business partner or associate and have important news that you need to share with them.
  • Shared children; you may have an ongoing dispute with the other parent of your child/children and they have care of them at an unknown location. You may be in child arrangement or custody proceedings and need to know the address of the other parent to pursue this. You may be concerned about the care your child is receiving when with the other parent or other members of their household and need to find out their address to investigate this further.

Whatever the rationale behind the need to trace someone, finding out the current address of a person can prove difficult especially if they have moved around quite a lot or if you have very limited information about them and their life.

People tracing can be attempted by private individuals or businesses not operating in the field of finding people but this can be a frustrating and futile exercise. People tracing can also be undertaken by professionals such as tracing agents or private investigators who are the experts at finding people who are difficult to locate or who do not want to be found.

Professional tracing agents will start a trace by gaining as much information as they can about the person that needs to be found; they will undertake research into the history of the individual in areas such as any convictions or legal action, employment, finance, assets and past addresses. They will use this to identify behavioural patterns and themes for the person and clues as to where the person might be and what activities they might be involved in.

Social media and the internet can be a vital resource in people tracing. Accessing someone’s social media accounts can often provide huge insight into their life; where they go, what they get up to and who is in their network. Even if you can’t find out exactly where they live from information that they post and share on social media, you can find out other details that may further your progress; knowing where they work or what gym they attend, and their daily routines can give you a starting point as to knowing where to start looking.

Gaining information about their friendship group and social network can also provide another potential avenue to explore in a person trace. The issue comes when people are sensible and set good privacy controls on their social media profiles which could prevent you from accessing their personal information if you are not already accepted on their account.

Another use of the internet which is helpful for person tracing is to look up databases that record address and household information nationally including directory enquiries type records such as, census responses on or, the electoral roll on and the title deeds register which can again be found on

These databases are created by the government and can, with just the input of a full name, provide details of the address that person lives at, who else lives in their household and if they own a property. However, this information does rely considerably on the self-report of the person themselves and can quickly become out of date.

If a person does not continually update records or respond to requests to do so, does not complete census requests, is not on the electoral roll or has opted out of allowing their information to be publicly accessed these sources will not provide the answers you require. If someone does not want to be found, they will likely not show up on these records. Also, if that person is highly transient or perhaps even homeless this method will not yield results. 

There are countless websites online offering to find a person’s address if you type in a name and pay a small fee; these providers are only accessing the information stated above that you can access yourself for free with a few more clicks and they are unlikely to progress your search any further than you are able to achieve independently, so apply caution before paying for these services.

Professional tracing agents utilise advanced software which allows them access to a far wider range of stored information about a person including credit files and service agreements such as a mobile phone or energy provider contract; this provides them with a significant advantage over members of the public or amateur searchers, and allows them to find people who are not aware that they have left a footprint linking to their address and have thought that they have taken all action to avoid this. 

Physical “on the ground” activity can also support tracing a person and determine robustly if the information you have gathered is correct; you can contact people known to the person you are trying to trace such as family members, friends, colleagues and employers if you have information or knowledge about these areas of the person’s life. Make enquiries as to where they live or what area they live in. You can also visit their last known address or the address you think they may be living at now to look for confirmation or indicators that they are there.

However, the issue with undertaking physical or direct contact type elements of a person trace yourself is that you might be detected by that person; they may find out that you have been asking about them around their social network, they may see you visiting their home address. This could have several somewhat catastrophic consequences for your trace; the person could become aware that you are trying to track them and go on the move again meaning all your hard work up to this point has gone to waste before you could implement the action that initiated the need for the trace, they could become angry with you and an altercation could occur or they may even report you for harassment.

Professional tracing agents are experts in undertaking discreet person tracing; they will not be recognised by the person you are seeking and are highly trained and experienced in covert surveillance, the use of surveillance equipment and discreet enquiry.

They will ensure that neither the person you are seeking or anyone within their social or professional network ever becomes aware, or alerted to the fact that they are being traced or that you have requested this; this will provide you with valuable time to take action once the current address of the person is identified.

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