National Skip Tracing Month

Expert Skip Tracing Sources on the Invisible Web

  • Written by Ron Brown

mug brownThis will be our fifth series related to what is commonly referred to as the “invisible web.” As I previously stated and emphasize, these sites are certainly not your beginner or skip guesser sites Most of them require certain advanced skills to manipulate, massage and extract the data. For the professional tracer to obtain the desired information needed to complete their searches, it is imperative that they possess the required skills and a thorough understanding of exact data extraction techniques. I have visited and conducted searches on each of these sites to insure they are working and functional as of April 15, 2017.

The first data site we will look at is known in tracing circles as “EDGAR” which is the acronym for electronic data gathering, analysis and retrieval system. This site performs automated collection, validation, indexing, acceptance and forwarding of submissions by companies and others who are required by law to file forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Its primary purpose is to increase the efficiency and fairness of the securities market for the benefit of investors, corporations and the economy by accelerating the receipt, acceptance, dissemination and analysis of time-sensitive corporate information filed with the agency.

This is an invaluable site when you are seeking information related to company officers, assets, national and international locations and high level employees. Some of the documents you will be able to locate and examine are documents that may be filed on EDGAR voluntarily. For example:

• Form 144 (notice of proposed sale of securities) may be filed on EDGAR at the option of the filer.

• Forms 3, 4 and 5 (security ownership and transaction reports filed by corporate insiders) filed before June 30, 2003 may be filed on EDGAR at the option of the filer, but those filed on or after that date must be filed on EDGAR.

• Filings by foreign companies and foreign governments before November 4, 2002 either could be made on EDGAR at the option of the filer or were not permitted to be filed electronically. But from that date on, these filings must be made on EDGAR.

• The annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB, is required to be filed on EDGAR. It should also be noted that the actual annual report to shareholders (except in the case of investment companies) need not be submitted on EDGAR, although some companies do so voluntarily.

By viewing and analyzing the information found on this site, a professional tracer may be able to gather data on a company which will aide them in their search to locate employees of a company and locations where those employees may be assigned. It is also utilized to locate men and women who are licensed as brokers or financial advisors. The “NEWS” section has also proved to be an excellent tool for tracers.

Hoover’s, a subsidiary of Dun and Bradstreet, is one of the most recognized databases of American and International business. A complete source of company and industry information that is especially useful for tracers and cyber trackers.

At this data site the tracer will be able to find comprehensive company, industry and market intelligence. The data located here will provide in-depth coverage of the world’s top business enterprises. The data available includes overview, history, competitors and financials on the most important public and private companies worldwide. Over 85 million companies can be found in this database.

Another very important section of this database is the “People Information.” Among the information that can be found are titles, biographies, job history and contact information for the officers of the most important public and private companies worldwide. Over 100 million contacts in this database enable the tracer to locate the subject of their search in a timely manner.

One of the main criterion for making this a very valuable data site for tracers is Hoover’s in-house editorial staff that compiles, analyzes and transforms business data into business insight. This human component sets this data apart from other business information companies. Specifically, the staff will conduct comprehensive updates of the most popular records on an annual basis, synthesizing industry content from hundreds of sources into an easy-to-digest format. In a world where data mining has become the norm, these actions that add a human element to Hoover’s content give the professional tracer an advantage not found in a lot of other data sites.

Now let’s look at a couple of little known law enforcement data sites where professional tracers can gather a wealth of information. I would offer this bit of cautionary advice, do not attempt to hack into any regions of these sites indicated to be RESTRICTED.

The U.S. Department of Justice Resources is a comprehensive database for the Department of Justice, including archives, initiatives, news, publications and resources. The Justice Management Division (JMD), under the direction of the Assistant Attorney General for Administration, provides advice and assistance to senior management officials relating to basic department policy for budget and financial management, personnel management and training, facilities, procurement, equal employment opportunity, information processing, records management, security, and all other matters pertaining to organization, management and administration. If your search requires any information related to locating a federal prison or detention sight, an inmate of a federal prison or detention sight (records back to 1982) or a person who may be listed on any sex offender database, this is the data site to use. Pay particular attention to the links available under RESOURCES and NEWS. Also, you will find links at this site to all Department of Justice websites.

This short and nondescript net address will direct the tracer to the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) which maintains databases, policy and strategy statements, special collections and research tools. The HSDL is the nation’s premier collection of documents related to homeland security policy, strategy and organizational management. The HSDL is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

Resources in the HSDL cover a wide range of homeland security topics and are carefully selected and evaluated by a team of librarians and content specialists. Sources include, but are not limited to: federal, state and local governments, international governments and institutions, nonprofit organizations and private sector entities as well as think tanks, research centers, colleges and universities.

A little over half of the items in the HSDL collection are openly searchable and available to the public, with no account or authorization necessary. This public collection includes items such as: U.S. Policy and Strategy Documents related to homeland security: General U.S. Policy Documents, National Strategies, Executive Orders and Presidential Directives, and Key Legislation, Congressional Hearings and Legislation, CRS Reports & Issue Briefs, GAO Reports & Testimony as well as Theses & Research Reports from U.S. federal academic institutions, particularly the Naval Postgraduate School and thousands of additional resources released by U.S. federal government agencies and organizations.

Hope this will keep you busy until the next addition…good luck and good hunting!

Ron Brown is a member of the National Association of Fraud Investigators and the author of “MANHUNT: The Book.” Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..