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Internet Research for Process Servers

A good process server is a combination of messenger and detective. He or she must be able to think quickly, track down people who may not want to be found, and deliver papers to sometimes unwilling recipients. Although many skills and talents are necessary for a process server, the importance of internet research cannot be denied. Here is what any process server should know about internet research.

Know the Law
A process server is required to follow all applicable federal, state and local laws when attempting to serve process. At no time should you violate any laws, including those that protect the privacy of the would-be recipient. However, many documents are a matter of public record. Do not hesitate to take advantage of those laws that allow certain information to be accessed.

Know the Technology
A lot of information about a person can be found through a simple internet search. Typing the person's name into a search engine may provide some leads. However, in order to track down a reluctant recipient, you may need to use more specialized software. Skip tracing is the act of finding someone who does not want to be found. Laws regarding skip tracing vary between jurisdictions, so you should seek competent legal advice before proceeding. If your jurisdiction allows it, however, you may be able to perform a credit check, criminal background check, social security and disability records search and other common searches. Alternatively, you may be able to work through a skip trace company that searches several of the above databases at once.

In some jurisdictions, it is legal to perform a skip trace via a third party. If you find out that the person in question recently lived with another person, you may be able to perform the same skip trace checks on that person in an effort to find the intended party. Again, laws regarding this vary widely, so never embark on a skip trace of any sort without speaking with a qualified attorney.

You may also be able to use a tactic known as "pretexting." Under this tactic, you may discover information about your intended recipient by interviewing his family and friends under false pretenses. This tactic is not legal in all jurisdictions, but if it is allowed, you might gain additional information that could lead to you to online sources such as social networking sites and alumni directories.

Certain records are not available without a subpoena. For example, you should never expect a social networking site to provide customer records unless it is court ordered to do so. Nonetheless, using a combination of internet searches may help you to connect the dots.

The Bottom Line
Internet research is a valuable skill for any process server. The laws are complicated and sometimes fuzzy, so be certain to seek legal advice before proceeding. Within the law, however, there are many records that are available to the public. Using a combination of search processes can help you to track down the person in question.

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Internet Research for Process Servers
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Process Server Education
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Serving Process on Those Living Elsewhere
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