7 Benefits of a Docusearch Hidden Asset Search
Did you know that about 20% of people in the US hide assets from their spouses? And it’s not only spouses, as it happens in business too, where, for example, one partner hides assets or money from another partner. As a result, you’ll sometimes need to find hidden assets, especially if you’re going through a divorce or if you’re embroiled in litigation.
Now, you might do some research and find that you’ll have to pay to get the information you need. And who wants to pay for information these days, right? As a result, you could be tempted by one of our competitors that offer quick results and far lower prices.
Don’t make this mistake. You’ll typically find that, when you use these competitors, you’ll get information sourced from databases that are likely not updated. As a result, the information you’ll get will be inaccurate and probably not worth much, if anything at all. In turn, this could have devastating effects, especially if you’re planning on using the information in litigation proceedings or a divorce.
So, with that in mind, when do you need to do a hidden asset search, what information can you find, and is it even legal? In this post, we’ll look at these questions in more detail and also show you some things you should consider when doing a hidden asset search.
When Do You Need a Hidden Asset Search
The first question we’ll deal with is when you would need to do a hidden asset search. Let’s be clear, you’ll be able to find a fair amount of information about a person or business from public records or online sources. However, it’s possible, if not likely, that the information you’ll find won’t be accurate. As a result, you could miss out on valuable information.
So, generally, you’ll need to consider hiring a private investigator to find hidden assets in the following cases:
- Divorce. One of the most common cases where hidden asset searches are done is in divorce proceedings and they typically become relevant when a settlement needs to be determined. This is simply because, in order to determine a fair and equitable settlement amount, it’s vital to know what assets the spouses have. You might think that spouses hiding assets from one another isn’t too common. You’ll be mistaken. In fact, according to a recent survey, one in five Americans, or 20%, are hiding money from their spouses.
- Child support or alimony. Another common reason for doing hidden asset searches is to support claims for child support or alimony. As mentioned above, a significant number of people hide assets or bank accounts from their spouses. As a result, they’ll often skip or refuse to pay support or alimony payments. So, when you find yourself on the receiving end of a spouse refusing to pay support or alimony, it might be a good idea to do a hidden asset search. After all, both you and your children’s welfare depend on it.
- Lawsuits. Another instance when you should consider doing a hidden asset search is when you intend to file a lawsuit. For example, let’s assume that you have a claim against another party for $10,000. Now, you could proceed with the lawsuit which would end up costing thousands of dollars. But what happens if the defendant doesn’t have any money or assets to satisfy your claim? The simple answer is that the lawsuit will end up being a waste of time, while also leaving you with a massive legal bill to pay. It’s thus a good idea to do a hidden asset search before you start the lawsuit to know if the defendant will be able to pay the claim. If not, you can avoid the lawsuit altogether and save time and money.
- Collecting judgments. It’s one of the strangest things, some of the richest people there are will often claim poverty when they lose a lawsuit in the hopes that they don’t need to pay the claim. When this happens, a hidden asset search can be extremely helpful as it can show you what assets the defendant has and whether it’s actually possible that they could satisfy the judgment.
- Criminal investigations. Hidden asset searches can also be extremely helpful in criminal investigations. Here, it can be used for various reasons. For example, it can be used to identify the witnesses that will be necessary for a criminal trial, to support the witnesses’ testimony and evidence, to seize hidden assets that criminals obtained through criminal activity, and even to find new leads to take the investigation a step further.
- Business relationships. When you enter into a new business relationship with someone, that relationship should be built on trust. If it isn’t, the business will more than likely fail. Keep in mind, though, your new business partner should earn your trust. After all, you don’t want to start a new business or form some other business relationship with someone who is not completely honest with you. For this reason, you might want to do a hidden asset search to find out whether everything they told you is true. Apart from this type of due diligence investigation, it’s also fairly common that investors and business people do hidden asset searches before they enter into contracts or make significant investments.
Wills. Hidden asset searches are also fairly common in estate and probate proceedings. They allow you to find hidden assets when a loved one passes away. This is especially helpful when they pass away without revealing where all their assets are. In turn, this makes it easy for you to see whether you’re getting your fair share of the estate when it’s divided.
Is It Legal To Search for Hidden Assets?
The next question we will need to deal with is whether it’s legal to search for hidden assets. The in-depth answer is that it depends on why you want to do a hidden asset search, or, in other words, what do you want to use the information for. Generally, you’ll be able to do a hidden asset search when you have a fiduciary interest. Legally speaking, a fiduciary interest is when you have a right to compensation from someone.
This means you’ll have a fiduciary interest when someone is legally obliged to pay you an amount of money. Using some of the examples above, let’s illustrate the concept in more detail:
- In divorce proceedings, a spouse would be legally entitled to payment or assets in terms of a settlement the court orders. As a result, the spouse would also be entitled to know what assets the other spouse has.
- In child support and alimony proceedings the aggrieved spouse or the children, under the guardianship of their parent, would be legally entitled to support and alimony payments.
- When a plaintiff has won a lawsuit, they would be legally entitled to payment of the claim amount by the defendant.
- When a person has been awarded an inheritance in terms of a will, they would be legally entitled to delivery of the assets or payment of the amount specified in the will.
In all these cases, there would be a fiduciary interest and, under these circumstances, as mentioned earlier, it would be legal to do a hidden asset search. Conversely, if you don’t have a fiduciary interest, you won’t be able to legally do a hidden asset search.
Typical cases here would include doing a bank-account search to assess someone’s creditworthiness or just trying to find out what assets someone has based on pure curiosity. Ultimately, if you do a hidden asset search for unlawful reasons, you’ll be committing a crime.
So, the simple answer to the question whether it’s legal to do hidden asset searches is yes, as long as you have a lawful purpose. Keep in mind, though, although we’ve used simple examples above and explained the concept in simple terms, the line between what’s legal or not can get blurry sometimes.
As a result, it’s always better to consult with a qualified attorney before you want to do a hidden asset search. They’ll be in the best position to advise you regarding the legality of the search.
How Much Does an Asset Search Cost?
The next question you’ll obviously want to consider when you plan on doing an asset search to find hidden assets is how much a hidden asset search costs. Generally, you can expect to pay anything from $165 to $1000 for a search. There are, however, some things you need to consider when it comes to pricing.
Firstly, the price you’ll pay will often depend on various factors. These factors include the type of search you’re doing, what you want to search for specifically, and where you want to search. Let’s look at our bank and brokerage account searches as an example.
For these searches, we charge a base fee of $499. We then charge an additional fee for every account found to a maximum of 10 accounts, provided, of course, that there is more than $100 in the account. For accounts that have a balance smaller than this, we still report them but we don’t charge for it. To reduce the costs of the search, you can then exclude the banks or brokerages you know about.
Are There More Affordable Options?
Now that you’ve seen what a hidden asset search costs, the next question is whether there are more affordable options. Well, yes and no.
Firstly, there are several online sources where you could possibly find information about a person or company. These can include everything from OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence) platforms to sites where you can find stolen information posted by hackers.
Let’s look at what open-source intelligence is. In simple terms, according to US public law, open-source intelligence is information compiled from publicly available information which is then collected and distributed to a specific audience. Also, it has to be used for a specific intelligence requirement.
Although this includes information that you can find by using the major search engines, it could also include other sources which are usually not indexed by these search engines and can’t, therefore, be found through a simple search.
As such, open-source intelligence includes intelligence obtained from:
- Information that is published or broadcast to a public audience, for example, news, blogs, social media, and the like.
- Information that is available to the public by request, for example, certain forms of government data.
- Publicly available products that are available for purchase, for example, industry journals.
- Information that could be seen or heard by an observer in public.
- Information made available at a meeting that was open to the public.
- Visiting or attending any place or event open to the public.
From the above, it’s easy to see that you’ll be able to obtain a fair amount of information about an individual or company using open-source intelligence. When considering what information you’ll be able to find, it’s important to emphasize that as mentioned above, you’ll only be able to find publicly available information.
This means that your possibilities are fairly limited, so you’ll more than likely not find what you’re looking for. In simple terms, open-source intelligence sources may be free, but they’re certainly not worth your time if you want to find in-depth information.
So, now the question is what about our more affordable competitors? The thing is, not all hidden asset searches are created equal. This means that, while you’ll most likely pay less when using some of our competitors’ services, you’ll not receive the same quality of information.
Ultimately, you should weigh up what you’re getting against what you’re paying to determine the value you’ll receive. As we’ll mention later, our hidden asset searches are excellent value considering what you’re getting.
A perfect example of the above is where some firms charge less for asset searches, but they just give you access to the systems or databases where you can do the search yourself.
The problem is that, although you’ll have access to search for any assets on the database, licensed private investigators have the skills, knowledge, and experience you don’t. As a result, they know what to search for and, from past experience, know where people are likely to hide assets.
Now, compare that to the information Docusearch is able to find. Simply put, as licensed investigators, we have access to information you’ll not be able to find online. Most of our competitors use databases as their main source of research. As a result, you’ll typically be able to get information faster but the information you’ll get is more likely to be out of date and inaccurate.
Conversely, we perform all our searches manually on the relevant systems which, although it takes longer, give you the most accurate results. For example, we have access to the SWIFT system which tracks all financial transactions in the USA.
This gives us the ability to find bank accounts and provide accurate balances and not just rough estimates. Ultimately, it’s this ability that sets us apart from our competitors and has allowed us to build a strong reputation in the industry over the past 35 years.
It’s also important to note that, apart from the above, you’ll come across websites that offer these services for far less than what we and other private investigators charge. Although these are not our direct competitors, it’s worth your while to know what to look out for in order to prevent being scammed.
You see, these companies and websites are probably some of the biggest scams on the internet. This is simply because they take information that is typically publicly available and then sell it to you under the pretense that you’ll get the information you’re looking for.
In many cases, these sites are also fronts for other sites. So, you’ll fill in the name of the person you need the information of, and they’ll simply refer to another site where you’ll have to enter your credit card to pay to get the information.
The second, more significant problem is the actual information you’ll get. These websites, as mentioned earlier, typically source the information they sell from publicly available sources. So, they’ll get the information from third-party providers or even sources from Google. The problem with this information is that it’s likely outdated and not worth much.
Now, the question is why you would want to pay for information that isn’t accurate or thorough? Our guess is that you wouldn’t. So, it’s easy to see why you need to avoid these companies at all costs and why you should carefully consider all the options when choosing the right provider for your hidden asset search.
But what should you look out for when you want to find the right provider. Well, we’ve compiled a list of some things that could be an indication that you’re dealing with a provider that will not give you the information you need:
- Check their contact details. Simply put, if you’re unable to speak to a human agent, there are likely no human agents and, probably, not any business. This is one of the first indications that a site is a possible scam or a front for another site and will probably try to sell inaccurate information to you.
- Check what they offer. Sometimes you might come across contact details on the site. If it crosses this hurdle, check what service they offer. In most cases, instant results are a dead giveaway that the information you’ll get will not be accurate.
- Where do they get the information from? As mentioned earlier, many of our competitors who source their information from databases are able to provide the information quicker but the information will likely be inaccurate and outdated. As a result, you should try to establish what sources they use to conduct hidden asset searches.
- Check their pricing. As mentioned earlier, value is more important than pricing. However, pricing can give you an indication of the quality of the search results you’ll get. So, considering the time and effort that goes into a hidden asset search, when it’s priced extremely low, it might be a good idea to steer clear of the company.
- Check user reviews. Customer reviews are an excellent way to establish whether a service provider is reputable. Typically, you’ll be able to see fake reviews from a mile away. You could also search for user reviews about the provider on other sites. For example, if you look at Docusearch’s user reviews, there are literally hundreds of legitimate reviews available for anyone to see.
The Docusearch Difference
So, we’ve now outlined why hidden asset searches are necessary, whether they’re legal, and what you should look out for when considering doing a hidden asset search. Now, the obvious question is why you should consider Docusearch when you want to find hidden assets.
Ultimately, it boils down to value and quality. In other words, you’ll get the accurate and valuable information you need at a price you can afford. So, when you do a hidden asset search through us, you’ll get the following benefits:
- Reputation and experience. We were established in 1996 and since then we’ve provided our investigative services, both online and through proven investigative techniques to obtain information on people and companies that our clients need. Our clients typically include attorneys, private investigators, insurance companies, government agencies, and private citizens. As such, during the past 35 years, we’ve built up an unparalleled reputation in the industry and our tools and experience are unprecedented in both the investigative and legal industries.
- Accuracy. Unlike many of our competitors, we don’t use databases that could be outdated in our hidden asset searches to source our information. This means that we’ll provide you with information that’s up to date and accurate and far better than you’ll get from our competitors or other service providers. Actually, you can try our competitors and you’ll find there’s simply no comparison when it comes to accuracy. This is simply the reason why we’re trusted in the industry.
- Price. Are we more expensive than our competitors? Sure, we are but, as mentioned earlier, you’ll need to consider the value you’ll get for the price you pay. So, you should ask yourself the following question. Do you want to pay less and get information that’s outdated and not accurate at all or will you pay more but get accurate, up-to-date information? We guess that you’ll choose the latter.
- Speed. We know, many of our competitors out there promise instant results. But remember, while you get the results faster, they won’t be worth much. In fact, we’ll speculate that the results you get won’t be worth anything. So, if you don’t want to use a competitor that offers instant results, and you shouldn’t, how long will it take? Well, we’re able to complete most asset searches within three weeks. During these searches, we are thorough and look for all the assets a person may be hiding.
- Confidentiality. Just think about it. What will the effect be if the person you’re doing a hidden asset search on finds out about it, whether it’s a defendant in a lawsuit or your spouse if you’re getting divorced? In simple terms, it could be devastating because it could give them some impetus to hide other assets they have which haven’t been found.
- Guarantees. Many of our searches come with a no-hit, no-fee guarantee. This means, if we don’t find the information you’re looking for, we won’t bill you. For example, with some searches, we’ll only charge a research fee and the balance of the amount paid to us will be refunded to your credit card.
- Diligence. To use a cliché, we don’t leave any stones unturned. Unlike many other investigators that do asset searches close to where the person you’re searching for lives or works, we search everywhere. So, we search for hidden assets across the entire country unless, of course, you ask us not to. In this way, we’re also able to uncover a wide range of hidden assets.
What Information Can You Find?
To understand what information can be found through hidden asset searches, you first need to understand what sources are typically used to find the information. Here, some of the most common sources include:
- Court judgments.
- Creditor searches.
- Vehicle registrations.
- Extensive property searches.
- National deed searches.
- Bank account searches.
- Investment account searches.
- Brokerage account searches.
- Business searches.
- Corporate filings.
- Criminal records.
Keep in mind, though, that these are just some examples of the sources private investigators use to find hidden assets and there might, depending on the type of search you want to do and what you want to search for, be other sources that could be of value during the investigation.
No matter what type of search you want to do, though, you might discover the following hidden assets:
- Monetary assets like bank accounts, brokerage accounts, credit cards, savings bonds, mortgages, and other financial instruments.
- Real estate, both locally and abroad. This is probably one of the most popular forms of hidden assets for both individuals and businesses simply because real estate can be difficult to track down, especially if it’s international real estate and not rented out.
- Corporate assets like hidden corporations and companies, holding companies, and inactive companies. When structured right, corporate assets can be very difficult to track down which makes them ideal as a vehicle to own properties or hold banking accounts.
- Movable assets like yachts, motor vehicles, aircraft, motorcycles, and others. Although these assets can be relatively simple to find, it could get complicated if the asset is owned by a company or other legal entity.
- Other assets like art, collectibles, safety deposit boxes, and jewelry to mention but a few. Because many of these assets don’t leave any paper trail, they’re often difficult to find.
Considering what assets you’ll be able to find by using a hidden asset search, the immediate question is what assets can’t be found. Generally, you’ll only be able to find accounts and assets associated with a person’s Social Security Number. Likewise, in the case of a business, you’ll be able to find information and assets associated with the business’s Employer Identification Number.
The Bottom Line
When you want to do a hidden asset search to find hidden assets, whether it’s on your spouse, your business partner, or any other person, there are some things you’ll need to take into account. For one, you’ll need to consider whether your proposed asset search is legal. Generally, if done for a lawful purpose, it would be.
Another important thing to consider is finding the right provider. Here, you’ll need to stay clear from competitors that offer quicker results at far lower prices. They’re simply not worth it, as you’ll get information that’s likely inaccurate and outdated which means, ultimately, it’ll end up costing you more.
The solution is to find a reputable, licensed private investigator who answers to government agencies and has access to information and databases that other platforms and providers don’t. If you do, you’ll ensure that the information you get is up to date, correct, and accurate.
And here, Docusearch fits the bill perfectly. With 35 years of experience, we’re able to perform hidden asset searches and other investigative services using proper investigation techniques to give you the results you deserve. To learn more about Docusearch and our range of services, visit our website or contact us for more details.