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City of Cheyenne, Wyoming
INVESTIGATORS, WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, DON’T PANIC: TRY THE POST OFFICE ADDRESS CHECK.
© Anthony J. Sacco, Sr.
CHEYENNE Remember the days before the Internet, when all those websites that now promise to find anyone for you in thirty seconds or less like USSEARCH.com and KnowX.com, Yahoo! People Search, or Switchboard, AT&T‘s brainchild didn‘t exist? Missing persons (MP) cases are not unusual in this business. But before the Internet, when we needed to find someone, where did we turn for help? To the US Post Office, of course.
Checking with the man in the stripes and tall hat for a change of address used to be among the first steps taken. Now, it‘s done last, or maybe not at all. But recently I’ve had cause to take another look at this much maligned and easily overlooked PI tool.
Last month, an attorney representing a car leasing company called. His client, the insured, leased a car in Brooklyn, New York, and headed south with her boyfriend, but wound up in an accident in Maryland. The insurance companies could not work things out, suit was filed and she was served at her Brooklyn apartment. The Claims Adjuster had taken her telephone statement and confirmed her address. But when the lawyer sent a letter, she didn’t respond. He tried calling, but her telephone was “not in service.” He Fed-Exed a letter. It was delivered, but nothing happened. The lawyer didn’t know what to think. Trial was in sixty days. He hired me to find her.
Since there was no money to send me up to Brooklyn, I hit the Internet. First, the Social Security Death Index. She was not there. Then, Locate.com, Four11.com, Switchboard.com, Yahoo.com and Hotmail.com. The first two didn’t have her. The others did, but still at her old address. To complicate things, several New York area people had the same name.
Calls to the natives with the identical name just ran up my phone bill. I tried a few of the tenants in the insured’s apartment building. They told me to buzz off, and they were not nice about it. The apartment house management company ignored my pleas.
All this took a week. My client was getting antsy. I told him to be patient and decided to do the oft-neglected Post Office Address Check. A week later, the form came back, “Good as addressed.” I told the client everything uncovered so far indicated the insured was still at the same address. So he called the car leasing company and requested that they send a man over there which they should have done a year ago, anyway. Guess what? She was there, sans phone. Happy ending.
Another case. Back in January, a guy hired me to locate his wife and kid. Wife ran off with another man, took their little girl with her, and he had not heard from them in six months. He believed they were in Clearwater.
The client was bucks up, so he sent me to Florida. I nosed around but could not find their house. However, I did locate boyfriend’s place of employment and tried following him home. He was wary and made me, which forced me to break it off. Next, I found the kid’s school, but officials there were, to put it mildly, uncooperative. I almost got arrested. Days later, boyfriend quit his job and they disappeared again.
I leave empty handed, racking my brain for something else to do. For laughs, I tried a Post Office Address Check on boyfriend, using his Florida employment address. A few days later, I had their new address back in Maryland, and my satisfied client trotted off to his lawyer’s office to file for divorce and custody.
Next time you visit the Post Office, pick up the form. Then use your computer to adapt it for your letterhead. Remember, use Post Office Address Checks only where litigation is planned or in progress. Fill in the form. In the block for Capacity of Requestor, put “Litigation - Process Server.” That always works. Ask your client for the names of the parties to the lawsuit, the court where the case has or will be filed, and the case number, if there is one. Get a reference to the statute that empowers process servers in your State. Avoid the temptation to make something up.
Next time you get an MP case, do this first. Then go ahead. Take all those creative steps that mostly don’t pan out. Just when you think all is lost, the Post Office comes through, your client is happy, and the stage is set for you to send a nice bill for services rendered.