Please find attached the most recent backlog sheet from the San Diego Superior Court-Hall of Justice. The Chart shows the current timeline for processing Civil, Family and e-Filing type documents. Click the link: SDSC Chart for more information.
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Skip-tracing, the industry term for finding someone, is a natural service that can be offered by process servers. This is because as the process server, you are typically the one who finds out that the last known address is no longer valid, and if you already have a good relationship with the firm that sent you the service, it’s easier for them to have you do the skip trace than to go and find someone else to do it. There are no silver bullets and no one size fits all approaches to skip tracing. The key to being a good skip tracer is having and utilizing multiple tactics and methods, depending what your particular case requires. This article aims to provide an overview of some of the most common tools and hopefully give you some insight as to how you can grow your business by offering a new service or how to refine your skills as an experienced skip tracer.
Databases are great. They have absolutely revolutionized the skip tracing industry and are a must have tool in your toolbox. Full versions of databases are often available only to Private Investigators or Attorneys however, most will have versions available to process servers that contain much of the same information. Databases will often search information from billions of public and private records and combine them into one spot. Records will typically include information from phone companies, credit bureaus, county property records and many other sources. There have been many debates about which databases are “best” but the truth is that all databases have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. The best way to find which databases are right for you is to try them out. Most will provide trial periods that will allow you to “test drive” their product before signing up long term.
While databases are great, the most common mistake in skip tracing amongst Attorneys, Private Investigators and Process Servers alike, is the tendency to rely too much on them. As great as they are, it’s important to recognize that computers are the ones pushing out the information and they do not have the same ability to interpret data as a live person does. Databases can sometimes provide outdated or inaccurate information, so it’s important to try and verify the information you get from a database with as many other sources as you can, before acting on it.
Any real property bought or sold in the United States must be documented at the recorder’s office in the county where the property is located. These records are usually free to view and oftentimes can be accessed online. These records typically contain very useful information including the name of the owner, when they bought or sold the property, an indication if the property is listed as owner occupied or not and the address where the tax bill is being sent. This is all invaluable information to the skip tracer, especially when you’re dealing with a subject who owns multiple properties because often times, the address where all of the various tax bills are being sent, is where they actually live.
In this day and age, people put their entire lives on their internet, it’s actually quite ridiculous- but it can be a gold mine for skip tracers. In our investigations, we have cases blown wide open all the time by information that the subject, or the subject’s family and friends post on social media. Invest some time in setting up some decoy accounts and keep in mind that you will usually be able to see more of a subject’s information if you are already connected with one of their existing connections. So Johnny defendant might not accept your friend request, but his attention hungry sister with 2,000 “friends” probably will. If their information wasn’t already public, then the second level connection may open up access to recent places or events that they may be attending, or you may be able to locate work information. For the tech savvy server and under the right circumstances, some apps are available to help pull metadata out of photos so you can see when and where a picture was taken. *Note that under certain circumstances, sending a friend request or other type of communication to a subject involved in a lawsuit. You should consult with your attorney before making any attempts to contact a subject directly.*
Post Master Locates
This is an oldie but a goodie and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Basically, there is a form you can fill out and submit to the post office wherein the post office is required to tell you if a person is receiving mail at an address, if they are having their mail forwarded, or if they are not at the address provided. Usually you would need to fax or mail the form in, but some post offices will allow you to walk it in and handle it the same day. In addition, that same form can be used to obtain the physical address the post office has on file for a P.O. box holder. A copy of this form can be found by clicking here.
Asking Good Questions
Usually, after a person has moved, the new occupants or neighbors will have some kind of information about where the person went. The question is, how do you get it? They key is in asking good questions. More often than not, people will give up all kinds of information if you just ask. If someone tells you that the subject has moved, ask when, where, if they have a cell phone number, if they had kids, if they had any friends in the neighborhood who might know where they are at. Get the phone number for the landlord and call him, because he probably has a forwarding address for returning the security deposit. Sure, some people are a pain and won’t provide any information, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and often, if you’re diligent in your questioning, you’ll find nuggets of information that can be used to help locate your subject.
A pretext is a fancy word for a lie. The purpose with pretexting is to get someone to divulge information to you that they wouldn’t otherwise provide. More than one unsuspecting defendant has unknowingly provided a skip tracer with their own address. We know of drug dealers that have given up their home addresses, children who have sold out their parents with the hope of getting something for free and neighbors that have dished details on each other thinking they were helping their friend get a new job. There are many different pretexts that can be quite effective and if you think you can get someone to believe it, you may want to try it out. You may even try doing the pretext on a random phone number just to work the bugs out. A good pretexter many times can also obtain information from businesses who may have information about your subject (i.e. their work, utility company, local pizza delivery places etc…).
A few cautions about pretexting. Don’t impersonate a law enforcement officer, don’t pretext to get info on any protected records (i.e. phone & bank), don’t do anything too outlandish and always use a phone that can’t be traced back to you. There are plenty of apps that let you spoof your phone number or set up an untraceable number that rings to your phone. Just test them out before using them. *Note that under certain circumstances, having any kind of contact with a subject involved in a lawsuit without their attorney present could be a violation of law. You should consult with your attorney before making any attempts to contact a subject directly.*
Have anything you’ve done that you’ve found to be effective? Have any good skip tracing stories you’d like to share? Comment below.
Joseph Jones is a licensed Private Investigator and the Vice President of Bosco Legal Services, Inc.
SSD or HDD: Which is best?
When searching for a new desktop or laptop computer, most people have certain criteria they look for besides just a good deal. Does it have ample storage, RAM (random access memory), touchscreen, USB 3.0 ports, HDMI ports and so on. What most people aren’t aware of is the importance of picking the right type file storage. For years now, the standard has been the HDD or Hard Disk Drive. Overtime, the capacity of the traditional HDD has grown significantly, from gigabyte drives to the now common terabyte drives. Newegg (www.newegg.com) sells a 12 TB HDD for a mere $1,700.00! Obviously, the more capacity you purchase, the greater amount of storage you have to save files, pictures and movies. The cost of the HDD has also significantly dropped and is still the most common drive, but with the benefits of an SSD or Solid State Drive, the HDD will eventually become obsolete.
There are considerable performance advantages of SSD over the traditional HDD that most consumers should consider. For starters, SSD’s are substantially faster…up to 100x faster than HDD’s.
With an SSD installed, computer boot up time can drop to a mere 7 seconds, users can achieve near instantaneous access to data and quicker file transfers. SSD’s provide an overall snappier and more responsive computing experience. SSD’s consume less power, which extends battery life and allows for a cooler computing environment.
HDD’s have various moving parts, that require more power but more importantly can fail or become damaged. With a non-mechanical design, SSD’s offer silent operation and superior durability. Although higher priced at the frontend, SSD’s offer long term cost savings for consumers by allowing for greater productivity and less energy consumption. One SSD can deliver the performance of 100 HDD’s.
Of course there are still a few perks to the HDD that some consumers will appreciate. Since the HDD has been the traditional and most common type of storage device, availability is far more abundant. The HDD currently has the largest capacity at 12 TB and counting. Since the HDD’s are more plentiful, they are also cheaper to purchase. So if you are looking for a large capacity, readily available and economical storage device…the HDD wins. If you are looking for speed, longevity, quiet and efficient computing, assuming price isn’t an issue…the SSD is for you.
Then of course there is the cloud…we’ll touch upon this next time!
Esteban Pujol, Vice President of Commercial Process Serving, Inc.
Tips on what to do if attacked while serving papers in the field:
- If you have never taken any martial art classes or lack any real self-defense training, here are some tips if you ever you find yourself in a situation where you feel an assault is imminent:
Quickly size up the attacker to gauge level of aggression and look for any possible weaknesses.
- Do not lose eye contact and never turn your back. Not seeing the attack is the worst thing to do.
- Maintain a confident and calm demeanor, as you attempt to talk down the aggression. You want to avoid a physical altercation at all costs.
- If subject calms down, walk away slowly and leave the vicinity.
- If subject attacks…
- Stay alert, maintain your posture and keep your eyes on the aggressor at all times. Take a defensive stance- stay centered, balanced, dominate leg in front and most your weight on back leg, while staying light on your feet. Position your hands slightly below eye level, approximately 12 to 14 inches from your face and prepare for strikes.
- If you have martial arts training, great! If you don’t have martial arts training, continue to maintain your posture and do not fall down. If you fall down, get up immediately while protecting yourself. Serious injury can occur on the ground, especially if you are not looking.
- If you are struck, decide whether or not a proportional response is needed. If you can handle the attack, keep hands up, protect your face. But if you are getting injured, defend yourself by striking back. There are simple and effective techniques you can use to thwart your attacker, depending on severity. Strikes to the nose, throat, groin or solar plexus can stun the attacker long enough to escape. If attacker is causing serious injury, find or create a weapon. Keys, belt or anything close by can help avoid severe injury.
- Maintain your posture and composure long enough to either escape or until help arrives.
- Report the attack to the authorities.
- Seek medical attention.
- Report assault to CALSPro, NAPPS, and PAAPRS in order to raise awareness
Do not put yourself in the above predicament without any type of self-defense training. Enroll in a class as soon as possible to learn rudimentary skills and gain experience. It can make all the difference. There are a wide array of martial art disciplines to choose from including Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, Karate, Judo, and Tae Kwon Do. Self-defense classes are regularly offered at many gyms, community centers, and community colleges. Perhaps take an early evening class during the week before going out serving? Remember we are never too old or too young to start training!
Commercial Process Service
(Speaking from experience and from being physically attacked while serving)
CALSPro – Process Server Assault Guide and Checklist.
A complete guide on what to do if assault, while serving process:
- Get to a safe Place
- Assess Injuries
- Assess Damage to Property
- Contact the authorities
- Anything Missing?
- Document the incident
- Notify your employer or client
- Notify your State Association
- Report incident to PAAPRS
For more information, Click on the CALSPro Process Server Assault Guide to download.
As you are aware, it has become essential to stay abreast of the latest surveillance technology to successfully do your job in the service of process and private investigations industry. That means keeping on top of the latest gadgets and testing their use in the field. Being prepared for anything is the name of the game when conducting surveillance. Regardless of the type of surveillance, there are many basic items that every server and investigator should have in their vehicle and on the job.
I recently spoke with a few process servers and private investigators to share their thoughts and suggestions on the technological gadgets they feel are most crucial for success in the surveillance industry. Here is what I found:
Top 10 Gadgets Recommended for Field Surveillance
#1 Digital camera with Bluetooth capabilities and a large zoom lens are essential. You will also need a laptop with you in the field to be able to run a license plate and/or to immediately download your evidence, then upload it into a secure online dropbox for your client to view.
#2 Digital recorder with a USB connection and flash drive. There are instances when your captured audio file requires immediate download so that you can email the file for transcription. For example, you have a witness in the field and you’ve obtained their permission to record your conversation (if your state laws required consent prior to audio recording) . This type of recording removes any guesswork after the fact. This is a small device that fits in your pocket and can be purchased for as low as $70!
Suggestion: Olympus digital recording devices
#3 Dashboard Camera with a suction cup application for car surveillance
Suggestion: Z-Drive HDI Dash Cam
#4 Motion Activated Hidden Camera Can take incredible footage via motion detection.
Suggestion: Bushnell HDI trail Camera with Night Vision
#5 Night Vision Goggles For obvious reasons…
Suggestion: Night Owl Optics http://www.nightowloptics.com/
#6 Covert Video Camera Inconspicuous gadgets like a car remote key chain/pen/baseball cap. There is even an iPhone case with a built in camera that detects motion and body heat to record both audio and video.
Suggestion: Great video on car remote covert camera https://youtu.be/ew0e14yIQ5I
#7 GPS Tracking Device *Perhaps a bit questionable. A tracking system sticker with an RFID chip can then be monitored via smartphone app.
Suggestion: The Trackr https://www.thetrackr.com/sticker
#8 Radar Gun to capture the speed of cars. Let’s say you have a client with a governmental claim to change the speed limit.
Suggestion: Bushnell Velocity radar Gun http://www.bushnell.com/spectator/outdoor-technology/velocity-speed-gun
#9 Traffic Counter Perhaps your client/attorney wants to know the # of pedestrians and # of cars that drive by for a certain street corner where there is no crosswalk to present as evidence.
Suggestion: Diamond Traffic Portable Counter http://diamondtraffic.com/productlist/Portable-Counters
#10 Binoculars There are so many on the market. Find the one most suitable for your field needs.
Other Food for Thought Suggestions that are essential to field surveillance…
- DC to AC Power Inverter 5. Battery Jump Starter/Compressor
- MonoPod/TriPod 6. Extra Memory Cards
- Toilet Paper 7. $40/cash
- Bottles of water 8. Flashlight
Now let’s talk software technology and the importance of becoming tech savvy . Lots of surveillance work is done with surveillance equipment, however, process servers and private investigators perform plenty of their tasks using computers, as well. It’s a profession that is getting increasingly technological. Therefore on the flip side of the field: at the office, servers and PI’s spend much of their time accessing databases and obtaining information. You may need to unveil information while scouring the internet to extract crucial data regarding a case. So, I’ve gathered a short list of suggested databases to explore:
Tracers Info: http://www.tracersinfo.com/index.php?id=privateinvest
Skip Smasher: http://www.skipsmasher.com/
Pacer Court (Public Access to Court Electronic Records): https://www.pacer.gov/
Perhaps most importantly, are the high level suggestions I gathered regarding networking.
RECOMMENDATION Become a member of as many associations as possible. Networking is crucial. Knowing your resources is essential.
RECOMMENDATION Keep up to date with laws and regulations. Servers and PI’s need access to private information and there are instances when governmental regulations may seem to hinder this line of work.
Finally, and maybe not as obvious as you think, is the need for an informative website with search engine optimization (SEO) as well as a robust, specialized software system specific to process servers to manage case tracking, dispatch solutions, task management, and auto reminders.
So that’s that.
What did we learn? —BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING —
Submitted by: Irina Nordstrom – Tristar Software
CCP 415.21 has been revised as a result of AB 2256 (Garcia -2014), and effective January 1, 2015 requires only that a Registered Process Server prove their identity with an official form of ID (e.g. Driver’s License) and a current Process Server Registration. The code no longer requires an RPS to identify the Party to be served. Guards had often required the address as well, but the code did not, and does not require that the address be provided. Here is a link to the code:
You may wish to keep a printed copy in a plastic sheet protector in your car to show guards if need be.
5 Things You Didn’t Know Google Apps Could Do…
Increase security with 2-step authentication. Google accounts can be compromised if someone guesses your users’ passwords or gains access to a computer. Add another layer of protection with 2-step authentication, in which users sign in with their username and password normally, then enter an additional, one-time code that’s been texted, called, or sent to their phones via a mobile app. This ensures that someone needs more than just the account password to sign in.
Create full-blown presentations with Google Slides. Forget PowerPoint and the hassles of emailing presentations back and forth to make changes. Google Slides offers a very easy to use interface to collaborate on presentations. Just jump on the phone or a Google Hangouts and collaborate on a presentation in real time to get it done quickly and efficiently.
Who needs the phone when you can Hangout? Google Hangouts allows you to instantly initiate a video experience with as many as 10-15 participants. Whether you’re working on a colaborative project or an international board meeting, Google Hangouts is an extremely productive, fun way to engage your colleagues, office staff or clients.
Replace your file server with Google Drive. You can replace that sad, aging server in your closet with the app that is accessible anywhere and has zero-maintenance. Start using Google Drive for no hassle data server and collaborate while getting your best work done.
Google Apps Marketplace. Google, like Apple’s iTunes, has an App store called Google Play. Here you can find Apps created by developers that are created for specific uses. Dropbox, DocuSign, Quickbooks, VNC Viewer are all Apps that we can use in our offices.
Chances are if you could use a little help in the form of software there is an App that can probably do the job just as well.
Article Written By: Kenneth Hastings, Hastings Professional Process Servers
I recently reached out to several affiliate companies to inquire on which document scanners they use for daily office use and field scanning. I isolated my inquiry primarily to firms who offer photocopy/records retrieval as a service, as they tend to be volume users and have many years of experience. The results varied, as most scanners vary in scan speed and daily usage, or daily duty cycle. To better understand the variety of scanners, Kodak Alaris uses the below classification to determine ideal usage:
NETWORK- Do you have a business process or application that you want to scan documents to directly – without a PC? Do you need to get information into your workflow systems quickly and easily? Network scanners are just what you’re looking for. Scan to applications, email, fax servers, network folders, FTP sites, printers, flash drives and more.
DESKTOP- Do you work in a small business or need your own office desktop scanner? Do you process customer-facing business transactions and need to scan documents quickly? Our desktop scanners are small, quiet, quick, intelligently designed and connect easily to your office systems. Perfect for small offices and individual use where ad hoc and transaction scanning is part of your daily routine.
DEPARTMENTAL- Do you work in a busy law firm, insurance claims department, human resource group or government office? Does your daily activity involve scanning documents to business applications, MICROSOFT SHAREPOINT or shared networked folders? Streamline and automate your document management processes with our departmental scanners and benefit from the productivity gains and cost-savings.
PRODUCTION- Do you process huge volumes of documents such as invoices, insurance claims or loan applications? Are you looking for a reliable, robust and affordable high-speed scanner for your centralized operation? Our production scanners redefine productivity, versatility and reliability. They’re ready to tackle the most demanding high-volume requirements.
The above categories give a good description of the various types of scanners available. Picking the right scanner for your office will depend on a multitude of variables. There are many options to consider, such as: volume, scan speeds, color, portability, auto document feeding or flatbed, size of documents scanning. Using the data I collected from other Legal Support Professionals, I summarized the most commonly used scanners in the tables to the right. Using the following categories: scanner brand, model, scan speeds, daily duty cycle and portability, I sorted the scanners from low volume to production grade.
Article Written By: Esteban Pujol, Commercial Process Serving, Inc.
ServeCon is a two day online event for process servers. Over 20 Industry Experts will discuss the key topics shaping our fast changing profession. CALSPro has arranged a 20% early bird discount for its members if you register no later than January 31, 2015.
This is an important and timely event that will address and answer many questions and concerns about the future of our profession, including sessions on The State of e-Filing and e-Service (and what it means for your business), Thinking like an Entrepreneur, Social Media for Process Servers, Employees vs. Independent Contractors, Skip Tracing & Data for Process Servers, Assault Prevention, Business Growth and Marketing and much, much more.
Click Here to see Topics and Speakers.
Click Here for Discount Registration.
You can attend from the comfort of your office, or download the videos to watch later; but don’t let this opportunity pass you by.
This 2 day event is set for March 26th and 27th but hurry and register now (before the discount expires) to save 20% ! ! !