Category Archives: Money & Debt

how to find bankruptcies, bad debt and earnings.

Locating Assets

So he owes you money?  Or it’s a divorce or child support case where they’ve got to be hiding something!  Either way, you’ll want to know all about their assets.

Searching for assets can be tricky.  And there’s no guarantee you’ll find anything.  But this blog will show you some powerful places where to look.  And how to do it fast, easy and all for free!  In fact, while I urge you to read on, you can find all these links Here.

Why Look For Assets?
Here are the obvious and not so obvious reasons to look for assets.

Divorce and Child Support
Sadly, this is the main reason why people try to hide what they own.  See Tricks People Use To Hide Assets From Their Spouse

Someone Won’t Pay You
So they refuse to pay you? The good news is you found their boat, their car, their house and their tractor.  Do they want to lose these things?   Ask them.   Sometimes, a mere threat works wonders!

They’re Lying About Being Rich
Is little orphan Annie pretending she’s Daddy Warbucks?  People lie about their assets for many reasons.  Some do it for personal approval.  But others claim to be rich so you’ll invest in their Ponzi schemes. Think Gregory Crabtree and his association with University of Georgia  football coach Jim Donnan.

Spotting Conflicts Of Interest
People are influenced by what they own.  And knowing their assets can help uncover a hidden conflict of interest.  For example, a judge rules against your solar power company, but you later discover he owns stock in a competing oil company.  Or what about the
non-profit director who rallies against pollution while holding a majority interest in the notorious Smog R US, INC.?  Could assets in these competing ventures influence their day to day decisions?  Could it affect how they vote?  You bet.

Criminal Investigations
How do you know that scumbag A is connected to scumbag B?  Trace their assets!  Often shell companies lead to other shell companies which are held by friends, relatives and known criminal associates.

Wills & Probate
Are you sure their will is up to date?  What if they acquired new property, new stock options or a new company that the family never knew about?  This could happen by oversight. (The decedent was forgetful or never got around to revising their will.)  Or it could happen by design. (The secret car or house was for a mistress or baby mama.)

Assets Lead To Other Assets
The fact is that assets point to other assets.  Suppose for example,  that Company A and Company B have different owners, yet both share the same address and phone number.  Is Company B connected to Company A?   Maybe not on paper.  But what if you found both company owners were related to each other?  Could a friend or family member be hiding assets?

For more on why you should do an asset search, See 10 Reasons To Locate Assets

What Is An Asset?
Most people know why to look for assets.  But what exactly is an asset?  In the broadest sense, an asset is money or something that can be sold for money.  This includes anything from homes and cars to their used paper clip collection.

But don’t waste your time with paper clips.  Start with big ticket items such as their houses and companies. Then work your way down to smaller assets such as their stocks, cars and personal property.

3 Types of Assets:

  1. Real Property, Business Property  & Personal Property
    Examples include:
    Homes, buildings, parking lots, stores, boats, planes, tractors, cattle, cars, antiques, artwork, furniture, medical equipment, jewelry, collectibles & hobby equipment, corporations, partnerships, non profits, and the physical property associated with such.
  2. Cash, Income, Stocks, Bonds…
    Examples include:
    Salaries, retirement funds, pensions, bank accounts, stocks,  annuities, dividends, residuals & royalties from contractual and licensing  agreements, legal settlements, insurance proceeds, book sales, etc.
  3. Intangible/Intellectual Property
    Examples include:
    Copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents,  inventions, proprietary software, goodwill, client lists, buy out agreements, etc.   Like homes or businesses, these have value.  And like any other property, these can be sold to pay off debts.

How & Where To Look For These Assets (An Overview)
How and where you look all depends on what you know about the person.   You can search for assets based on:

  • Asset Types (What you think they own)
    This includes records on corporations, foundations, intellectual property, real property and cars, boats and planes. These can reveal the owner behind them.
  • Where The Person Works
    Often you can obtain salary, stock or pension information if they work for the government, manage a non profit or are an officer or director in a publicly traded company.
  • Their Hobbies, Licenses or Profession
    Many dentists have their own practice, and therefore, own expensive medical equipment such as dental drills and X-ray machines .  Same goes with cosmetic dermatologists who may own expensive lasers and dermabrasion equipment.  A person with a boating or pilot’s license could very well have a boat or small plane,  a gun collector, expensive guns, a sports hobbyist, expensive baseball memorabilia, a farmer, a tractor, a cyclist, a six thousand dollar bike, etc.
  • Usually you can get their profession or hobbies from LinkedIn, the Age & Relative lookup sites, or through Facebook, Twitter or  But if you can’t, don’t despair.   Many states have occupational search engines where you can search by name just to see what license they have.  For example, in Georgia, you can find all the people in the state named “Adam Rosen” who have a professional license.  Just enter in their name without selecting a profession.  But don’t expect to find any Adam Rosens who are lawyers and doctors.  Typically those are found at the state bar and state medical board websites.
  • Key Events In Their Life
    Did they ever file for bankruptcy? (The bankruptcy petition may list assets.)  What about winning or losing a lawsuit?  (Assets could be listed in divorce, breach of contract, or personal injury claims.)  Did they ever receive insurance benefits from a death in the family or from a car accident?
  • Their Online Announcements
    Did they move and list items for sale on e-Bay or Craig’s list?  What about that new job they announced on LinkedIn or their vacation posts on Facebook?  Did they brag about their timeshare, boat or condo?

Age, Middle Name & Close Friends & Relatives
You might think you need their Social Security number to find their assets.  But it ain’t so!  There are three things far more important.  And yes, these too can be found for free online.

Before you do an asset search, you should know their age, middle name or initial and their close relatives and associates.   You want the first two to make sure you have the right person.  But close friends and relatives are almost as critical.  If someone wants to hide their assets, guess who they’ll do it with!

Age/Relative lookups are not the only place to find relatives.  Checkout Facebook as well.  Make sure to  look for all “friends” with the same last name as your subject.  And then add these to your list of their close friends and associates.

You’ll want to look for the son, daughter, spouse or live-in girlfriend who suddenly acquires a new house, plane or boat!  Same goes with their business partners and close associates.  It’s easy to find out when they got the new house. The online property tax records will show you exactly when they started paying the taxes on it!

Plane and boat registrations are also helpful.  These often list the exact date when the new owner acquired the property.  And the timing matters!

Was it just before or during the divorce? Or right before the bankruptcy?  This is something your lawyer or a judge might find mighty interesting!

What If I Don’t Know Their Middle Name?
If you don’t know their middle name, at the very least, you’ll want their middle initial.  This is critical when searching for a common name.  For example: There may be 1000 John Smiths, but only 25 John R Smiths.

A middle initial is your best friend in Google searches.  It’s also useful when searching the corporation and real property databases.  Sometimes these databases will cut off results after the first 100 returns.  If this happens, add their middle initial for more targeted results.

Test Bookmark
How & Where To Look For These Assets (Specific Links)


Find Assets Or Asset Holders Through Their:

Real Property (Who Owns What & Where) Relatives & Associates
Private Corporations (By Individual or Company Name) Intellectual Property (Websites, Patents, ©,® and ™)
Public Corporations (Look up Companies, Officers, Their Stock & Salaries) Foundations & Non-Profits (By Individual or Company)
Personal Property & Fixtures (Boats, Planes, Cars, Equipment…) Life Events (Bankruptcies, Lawsuits)
Government Employment (Salaries & Retirement Funds)

Related Links On How To Find Assets

Free Bankruptcy Records

Why Bankruptcy Records Matter
Is your money market investor secretly bankrupt?  Or what about the contractor building your family’s new dream home?

Wouldn’t it be awful if he had to quit in the middle of the project due to poor money management?  And then there’s the guy who wants you to invest in his business.  Is he dependable?  Is he trustworthy? How in the world can you tell?

Wouldn’t it be nice to check out their financial status before you invest in them?  To know they’re trustworthy before you rely on them?  Well now you can!  It’s all online and free of charge.  Just take a look at their bankruptcy records!  (But before you do, scroll down to the bottom of this blog so you’ll know how to use them.)

Bankruptcy records are an integral part of most background checks. A person’s bankruptcy petition can capture years of their financial activities.  And it can include other information such as where they worked, how long they held a job, and what they spent their money on.

Knowing Why They Filed For Bankruptcy
Some bankruptcies aren’t the person’s fault.  For example: A person could go bankrupt due to severe health problems, a natural disaster not covered by insurance, or a job loss during a major recession.  When this happens, we can sympathize. These things could happen to anyone!

But often, bankruptcies show how someone messed up.  It’s a long term record of the bad decisions they’ve made.  For example: A Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition could show the debtor had uncontrolled spending; or that the debtor was unable to hold down a long term job, or that the debtor consistently made poor investment decisions.

So while we feel bad for someone who says they went bankrupt due to medical bills,  we’re less sympathetic upon learning they overindulged in timeshares, high end furniture and flat screen TVs!

Knowing When And How Often They Filed
What we’re after is their character.  We don’t just want to know what they did.  We want to know who they are now.  Are they trustworthy?   Are they stable and dependable?  Was this a one time screw up?   Or is this person a walking train wreck?  A bankruptcy of 20 years ago won’t tell us much.  But a recent one can speak volumes.

So don’t count on someone being financially stable if they filed in the last three years.  For one, their credit is shot.  Also, people don’t change overnight.  Assume the trouble they faced then is the trouble they face now.   And you won’t always know what that trouble is.  It could be impulsive spending, a drug habit, or as they claim, a fluke of circumstance.

Also look out for those who’ve filed for multiple bankruptcies.  This could mean someone who files whenever the law allows them to.  For example, the law says once you file for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy, you must wait another 8 years to file again.  So when did they file last?  Are they about due for another one?  (perhaps at your expense!) Likewise, a pattern of filings tells more about their character than say, a single bankruptcy.

Checking Out The Owners Of Small Companies
With small companies you’ll want to background the owners and officers.  A big company often has checks and balances to prevent a single person from controlling it.  But a small company is more likely to be dominated by a single person or several officers.  So it’s good to know the character and past dealings of these people.  And this means checking out their personal and business bankruptcies.

For example: I found a Georgia builder who filed twice for bankruptcy in 2013.  He filed a liquidation bankruptcy (Chapter 7) for himself and then filed another Chapter 7 for his failing construction business.

That same year he launched a brand new construction company.  But this time, he never listed himself as the owner!  The guy knew a bankruptcy spoke volumes about his stability.  So even though he was the true owner, he concealed his name so he could get a fresh start and hide his lousy track record.

I was able to trace him through his new website and other contact information.  (All roads led to him and his defunct company).  So if someone says they run a company but are not listed, be sure to check out their criminal records and bankruptcies!  They could have good reasons for hiding under the covers.

More Reasons To Check Out Bankruptcy Records:
That said, it’s a good idea to check for bankruptcies when:

  • Choosing A Business Partner (Do they manage money wisely?)
  • Checking Out Tenants (Can they pay? Are they likely to become deadbeats?)
  • Lending or Investing $ (Is the debtor/investor responsible?)
  • Dating: Is the guy lying about his wealth? Will money management be a problem for him?
  • Hiring For $ Sensitive Positions (if they can’t handle their $, why let them blow yours)
  • Hiring Home Builders (what if they squander all the money and stop in the middle of the project)
  • Investigating Small Companies (The company is only as good as its owner)
  • Getting Full Disclosure:
    What they don’t tell you is as important as what they do tell you.  If they’re not disclosing the things you need to know, why trust them?

Where To Find Free Bankruptcy Records
There are three places to check for free bankruptcy records. These are:

  1. The commercial databases that offer you free teasers
  2. VCIS: Voice Case Information System (An Automated Phone System)
  3. PACER (Public Access To Court Electronic Records)

The Commercial Databases
These work best for recent bankruptcies. With just a name you can learn if the person filed, where they filed, when they filed, and if the bankruptcy was a Chapter 7, 11, or 13.  Sometimes you’ll also get the debtor’s address. (For common names, this helps confirm you have the right person).  I recommend you search several of these sites: They tend to fill in the gaps for each other.  But no single site is complete.

Free Bankruptcy Records Through
Aside from PACER, is the best free website out there.  But unlike PACER, you don’t need to sign up or log in.  The only drawback is that the site is down a lot.  So you may have to check back later in the day.

Use for a nation-wide search for people who’ve filed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. (Good from 2009 to the present.)  For a demonstration, see the Sleuth For The Truth video Search For Bankruptcy Filings (Free Public Records). (Best Way)
Enter a last name and first with no commas i.e. Smith John. Press the search button and once on the new page, scroll down manually or search by pressing CTRL and the letter F on your key board (Command F for Macs).

The pages are many screens long, so try a CTRL F search by a first name only or by whatever single term is least common to that page. Got several people with the same name? To find out where they filed, just mouse over the link you want: The Internet address at bot. left will show the state and city of the filing!

Note, if the screen goes blank after you search,  it means either you entered the name wrong or your name isn’t in their database.

Free Bankruptcy Records Through
To find free bankruptcy records through,
advance to 3:31 on the Sleuth For The Truth video Search For Bankruptcy Filings (Free Public Records). 

Voice Case Information System: Free Automated Phone System
This site has the phone numbers so you can call into a court’s automated system and search for bankruptcies by the person’s name.  But there is a catch. You have to know what district court to call.  And sometimes there are up to three districts in each state!  But you can call wherever you think the person has lived.  For more, see Age-The First Stop In Any Background Check.

PACER (Public Access To Court Electronic Records)
Both old and new bankruptcies are on PACER, a free service if you use it wisely.  PACER provides access to the actual court filings, including the much talked about bankruptcy petition.

The bankruptcy petition is the hottest document you can find.  The petition lists the names of their creditors, the amount of each debt and often the type of debt it is. You can even learn the jobs they’ve worked, how long they held this job, how much they’ve earned, the property they owned, and by inference, what got them into bankruptcy.

Establishing A Free PACER Account
They never bill you a single cent if you use less than $15 a quarter. It then resets back to $0.  I’ve used this service for years and never been billed yet! And amazingly, you don’t even need a credit card to begin. With PACER you can lookup several bankruptcy petitions (large docs) or dozens of other smaller documents, all for free. 

Just fill out their on-line registration form and within a week you’ll receive your login and password. Note: Some Courts are not on PACER which means you have to search these courts individually. 

How To Do A PACER Nationwide Search On Federal Court Records Including Bankruptcies
PACER ain’t just for bankruptcies! To search other federal court records, (both civil and criminal) see the steps below. 

1. Log into PACER

2. Paste the link below into the address bar up top, so you can do a national search without selecting a district court.

3. Enter last name comma first, example John, Smith

4. Choose One of the tabs up top for either
All Courts or Appellate or Bankruptcy or Civil or Criminal or Multi District Litigation  (MDLs)

For more on how to search PACER or set up an account, See the Sleuth For The Truth video Free Search For Bankruptcy Petitions: Who They Owed & How Much $ (PACER). 

Related Links
Reverse Lookups-Finding Them By Their Contact Info
Age-The First Stop In Any Background Check
Google Like A Pro
(Quick Tips & Tricks)

Public Salaries And Employment History

Did you know that nearly one sixth of all U.S. employees work for the government?  That’s right.  Twenty two million people are employed by the federal, state, county and city governments.  This includes powerful senators, eminent college professors, lawyers, judges, school teachers, postal clerks, librarians, trash collectors and city bus drivers.  The government is BIG.  And it hires people from all walks of life and every profession.

Imagine 22 million people who rent, buy homes and date, just like you.  But with one itty bitty difference.  Unlike the private sector, their salaries are totally public!  In fact, for millions of people, you can find their exact salaries along with where they’ve worked and for how long.  It’s all on-line!

Why Do I Care How Much They Make?  Isn’t That Just Snooping?

Of course it’s snooping.  But there are many good reasons to snoop.  If government workers are all around you (and they are), it means you’re bound to have some personal and professional contact with them.  So why wouldn’t you snoop?

If you’re going to date them, hire them, rent to them, invest with them, or even go bowling with them, you might as well know who it is you’re hanging out with.

Plus, if you ever apply for a government job, you can lookup up the exact salary of your boss and your peers.  In other words, you’ll know exactly what to negotiate for and the salary you should reasonably expect.

How To Lookup Federal Salaries and Employment Histories

Excluding the military, there are almost 3 million people who work for the federal government.  And there are millions more who once worked for them and have moved on to other things.  The good news is that you can find their the salaries,  job titles and length of service at just two websites!

The salaries of six hundred thousand postal workers can be found at the Feds Data Center where you can Search USPS Pay.  This site also shows six years of their employment history.  So even if they don’t work there now, you can see a snapshot of their work history from when they did.  Knowing their work history is important.  It can help you determine if they’re stable, dependable and trustworthy.  Pretty important stuff if they’re dating your daughter!

For the 2.1 million other federal employees, check out their salaries, job titles and seven years of their job history at Feds Data Center Search Federal Pay.

Note: Some federal employees are exempt from disclosure such as those involved in national security.  Names in these cases will display as “Name unknown” or “Name withheld by agency.”

Searching The Database For Federal Non-Postal Workers

Since both federal databases are similar, let’s take a look at the larger one for non-postal workers.

Here you can search by last name only or last name and location or by last name and agency, etc.   I recommend you search by last name only: Leave all the other fields blank.  The only reason to add more in other fields is if your name is an extremely common one.  You can also choose various years of their employment history or all years.  Selecting ALL YEARS shows the last seven.

Whenever you search be sure not to add too much information.  If you do, you may miss records due to someone else’s data entry error. (i.e. you can’t find them because your subject was listed at the wrong agency or the wrong location or with a different job title).

Checking Out Their Job History
Obviously, if they’re in years 2014 and 2015 but no earlier, it’s safe to assume they’re fairly new with the government.  You may also find the same person has changed jobs.  (The earlier years show the exact same first, middle and last name with a different position.)

If you get lots of hits, you can change SHOW ENTRIES from 10 to 100 entries.  This allows you to see them all at once rather than scroll page by page.

Now let’s test the database by searching for ABRAMS, RUTH, a name which was already here when we arrived.  Notice an exact salary is shown along with her job title, agency, and the city and state she worked in.  Click all years to see how long she worked there.

In many cases, you can learn their middle name, something which will help immensely in your Google searches.  For more on how to Google someone see the Sleuth For The Truth Video Google Like A Pro (7 Tips & Tricks).

Search By Both Name and Occupation (When in Doubt)
Government sites are known for sloppy search engines that don’t work well.  So if you can’t find the person by name, try a separate search leaving every field blank but their occupation.  Also check if they are of the class excluded from being in the database.

By way of example:  a name search for MATHUR, RASHMI finds nobody.   But don’t be so quick to presume he’s lying.  A search in the occupation box for “General Physical Scientist” shows he does in fact work for the feds.  So when in doubt search twice.  For a demonstration of how to search for federal salaries, see the Sleuth ForThe Truth video Verify Salaries & Work Histories On Federal Employees.

Salaries and Job Histories at the State, County and Local Level

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According to the US Census, there are over 19 million people on the state and local payrolls.  Most of these people have ordinary jobs and lead ordinary lives.  About 7 million are in education.  That means about 35% are teachers, professors, college administrators, and the like.  The rest include policeman, fireman, driving instructors, nurses,  prison guards,  scientists and clerks.

Like everyone else, these people apply for other jobs. They rent apartments, they buy homes, they ask for loans, and they put up online dating profiles.  And like everyone else, they make claims about themselves which you’ll want to verify.

So as we did on the federal level, I’m going to show you how to verify their job title, the years they’ve been in public service, and even find the exact salaries they were paid.

Most of the links are for state and county workers.  But in some instances you can find the salaries and job titles of city workers as well.

NOTE: Often, county teachers and even public college professors will have their salaries and work history listed in the state databases and not in the county databases.  For a good website on public payrolls, check out my website at (Government Salaries).

Our next stop is the State Employees & Their Salaries section, which has the one stop State Employee Salary Database.  This is a wonderful website which covers 26 states all at once.  And it allows you to search by name, state and year.  Or just by name.

The State Employee Database is far from perfect.  In some instances it’s missing people or missing their full work history.  But it’s  still a great tool for a quick salary and employment check.

Here I’ve entered the name Alice Mitchell, and we’ll search in the state of Georgia.  You can see that for 2010, the total compensation for Alice S Mitchell was 89,630 dollars.  It also shows that at this time she worked for the Georgia Department of Labor in Legal Services.

Using the back button, you can also see various other years where she held the same position with the same title.  Here, it lists  years 2010-2014 but not 2015.

Missing records are not uncommon.  But if you can’t find your person or the records are sketchy, use the back button to return to the Consumer-SOS salary section.  From there, scroll from A to Z for your state’s salary records.  Often you’ll see state sponsored links with more in-depth coverage.

Keep in mind that there’s no central state database like the feds have. The states do what they want to do.  Some states have lots of links.  Others have almost none.  And every website works differently too!

Now let’s go to  the state of Georgia and their state salary database, to see if we can find the missing 2015 data for Alice Mitchell.  Here, I can select the year I want her salary for.  Notice it gives 6 years worth of history.

Clicking on person, it now shows which employees you can find the salary of.  There are State Agencies,  anyone in the GA Public University System, Technical Colleges and Local School Teachers
in the Local Board of Education.

To find Alice Mitchell in the Department of Labor, I’ll click on State Agencies, enter her name and click on the search button.  And there she is still working at the DOL in 2015.   She’s in the same position and now making over 90 thousand dollars.

Our last stop is PI   Here you can find a tremendous wealth of information on federal, state, county and city salaries.  They also have links to numerous state employee directories.  For a demonstration of how to search for State and Local Salaries, see the Sleuth ForThe Truth video Verify Salary & Job Histories of Teachers & Other Public Employees. 

Happy hunting!