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Tips for Civilians
Finding People & Data About Them

About the Author: Mary Ann Boyle, PhD is a licensed private detective and forensic genealogist who finds missing persons and conducts genealogical investigations for court cases. She shares her secrets for investigating missing persons and identifying kindred.

How to Determine if a Person is Deceased.

The primary source of death information for people in the US is the Social Security Administration Death Index, While the Index supposedly reports deaths for the years 1935 to 2014, it really is only accurate for the late 1980’s to 2014 and not actually complete for those years. In order for a person to be included in the Index, the death had to be reported to Social Security. Reporting was sporadic before the late 1980’s. The routine reporting sequence is for the funeral home to report a death to the local Social Security Administration office. In the case of 9/11, few deaths were reported since few of the dead were processed in this normal manner.

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Tricks for Finding Obituaries

Review all obituaries in appropriate newspaper for anticipated publication date. This technique will pick up alternate spellings of surnames or hyphenated names. Review obituaries in hometown newspape

Online Teaser Sites Can Drive You Crazy

Many online search sites used to offer telephone numbers, addresses, employment info and dates of birth. This is before they decided to become profitable and only offer teaser data with the promise of

Why Would You Want a Copy of an Estate File?

When looking for missing persons, the death of any relative might be helpful. If you are looking for John Jones Jr, this is an ugly task because of the commonness of the name. Perhaps you know that Jo


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