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Experience is key to tracing family – and everyone else

by Josef Kafka

There are many different reasons why people lose contact with loved ones, family, friends, and former associates. People move away, often changing addresses more than once, and over time, forget to keep in touch. In other cases, there is a row or some kind of altercation that causes the initial split. Perhaps there’s been a fall out over money, or a debt is left unpaid – whatever the reason, communication breaks down and contact is lost. 

Lost contact or missing?

There’s a big difference between a person being ‘missing’ and losing contact with someone. The former often occurs in unexplained or unexpected circumstances and may involve someone who is suffering from a condition like depression, or is considered vulnerable in some other way. Missing can also mean the person has been abducted – taken against their will. In every instance, ‘missing’ persons should always be reported to the police. Around 850 people are reported missing in the UK every day; 64% of these are aged under 18. Teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 are the most likely to be reported missing.

Police business

Missing persons enquiries are initially made by police, although other agencies may also get involved at some stage, including private investigators. Police rarely get involved in trying to trace a loved one, family member or friend where contact has simply been lost for some reason, unless there are special circumstances. If you want to find someone you’ve lost contact with and don’t know where to turn, there are a number of steps you can take, but before you do anything else, pull together all the information you have for the person you want to contact again, including their last known address and any other contact details.

If you’ve already tried friends and family without any significant breakthroughs, you could approach charitable organisations for help and advice. One such organisation is the Salvation Army (http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/FamilyTracing), who say they help reunite around 2,000 families every year. Other online resources include the British Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Finding-missing-family) and Missing People (http://www.missingpeople.org.uk/about-us/about-the-issue/information-statistics/78-missingadults2.html), although these are more for tracing family in conflict zones, or people who have gone missing.

When time is a factor, get professional help

If you want to find someone again to sort out an inheritance issue, share important news or information, get money you are owed, or just to have them back in your life, the quickest and most efficient way to track them down – wherever they are – is to hire a private investigator. Finding someone can be pretty time-consuming, but in many ways, the world is a smaller place than ever before and in an interconnected age, most of us leave some kind of digital trace, no matter how discreet we think we are. A lot of searches will start online and an experienced investigator will know where and how to search. In fact, when it comes to tracing someone, experience is key and people who have been lost for many years are often found again in a matter of hours!

Getting people together again – whatever the reason

Depending on the reason(s) why you lost touch with a family member or friend, finding them again may be just the start. If the original split was acrimonious, it can be helpful if a neutral person tries to arrange a reunion initially. Clients sometimes find female investigators are more suited to this role, but as long as it’s handled sensitively, this shouldn’t matter. 

Of course, not everyone you want to contact again is happy to hear from you. Debtors, for instance, may not be so welcoming, but an experienced investigator can not only help find them, but can also keep track of their whereabouts and help you recover what you’re owed.

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