Do you remember the TV ads for the Popiel Pocket Fisherman?

It was designed to offer a quick way to be fishing when you have limited time and don’t want to miss an opportunity to catch fish.

Similarly, if you are committed to hunting (of fishing) for abandoned, missing owner or deceased owner houses, you’ll always want to have your trusty fishing rod specifically, tools with easy access that you can quickly use to find people or research potential deals.

Here are some quick, free resources that you may use for finding people:

Social security death index (I access free via

Some states, like California, have their own death index. I’ve found people on this site that were not listed on the national site.

Merely using Google, Yahoo, etc. and searching the person’s name will sometimes produce useful results.

Social media can be a great shortcut. For example, five years ago I would have never thought to use Facebook to find a person in the 70s however it’s not all uncommon now. I recently used it to get some very insightful info on a target (person I was researching) prior to making contact although it was a bit if a stretch for me to show interest in ballroom dancing when I call her.

Beyond these, there are a number of pay per use and subscription-based services. At the high end, skip-trace vendors will require you to pay for an onsite inspection before approving your account.

If you are not yet prepared for the monthly minimum or pass this type vetting process, consider getting a trial subscription to PI magazine ( and look for the ads offering skip-trace services.

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