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Understanding OSINT and The Power of Public Records

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One of the most important tools for private investigators in the digital age is the presence of easily accessible public records. Although not much has changed regarding what information is available publicly, what has changed is that what used to require countless hours of sifting through paper a few decades ago can now be accessed with just a few clicks, as almost everything is available digitally. Mining data has become a lot faster and easier, not to mention it doesn?t even require a private investigator to even step out of the office.

Our Osint Intelligence Division (OID) is lead by a court recognized expert on Social Media with global investigative experience. He is a 28 year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department with 12 of those years being spent in the Technological Crimes Unit.

Public Records and OSINT

Although public record is the common term used to refer to data that is publicly accessible, it also goes by the name OSINT. OSINT stands for Open-Source Intelligence, which is data from publicly available sources. Data like this used to come from newspapers and other publications but now, they can also be gathered via public social media posts such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. With this said, it should be noted that the availability of data is not just about tech but also about the strategy used by private investigators. It pays to know where to look and know how to filter data to gather only the most relevant for an investigation.

Why Use Public Records to Gather Intelligence?

Information is expensive and not easily available for a lot of people. The beauty of using public records to gather intelligence is that it makes things faster, more efficient, cheaper, and easier because of the following:

  • It is cost-effective. You get highly-valuable information for less effort so that each piece of information comes cheaper or at least worth every penny. For example, finding out that a potential business partner is a scammer can save you time, money, and the headache of finding out later.
  • It provides legitimate and reliable data. Using public records to investigate means that information can be easily verified and thus, is legitimate and reliable. By using public records, you can easily check on someone?s identity, claims of achievement, employment history, and more whilst being perfectly legal.
  • Public records often point to other useful data sources. For example, if you find out that someone served in the military via a publicly recorded source, then you would know what is the next step to take and where to look for further information.
  • It is discreet. An investigation can be completed just by using public records. This means that there will be no surveillance needed, no need to interview people, and nearly everything can be done online in secret.
  • Public records make it easier to see discrepancies and biases. Some pieces of information are only recorded to support certain agendas. This may not be easy to figure out if things are all private but when things are publicly accessible, it can be easy to see patterns that point towards a bias.

Using the Power of Public Records

Open-source intelligence sources are legal to access. Although not all sources of OSINT are free because some may require a purchase or a subscription, information that you can get from them is often well worth any fee. The real question is how do you figure out which information is helpful or not? How do you sift through so much information and know exactly what is important for a case or for the purpose you want? This is where hiring a private investigator can help. Conducting targeted searches and coming up with relevant data takes expertise as well as training. If you want to know how we can use OSINT to work for you, contact us at Haywood Hunt.

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