Gathering Personal Information Discreetly

Gathering personal information discreetly is a skill that requires careful attention to not intrude upon someone’s privacy. If you collect personal information without permission from a person or their substitute decision-maker, you may face liability for intrusion.


Personal information may be directly collected, such as during an intake interview or through a form. It can also be indirectly collected, such as when a teacher phones a children’s aid society about a child who is in danger.

Social Media

There’s a lot of debate as to exactly what social media is. Some people believe that only web-based communication tools fall into this category (while TV, radio, and newspapers are examples of more traditional forms of media). Others argue that blogs also belong in the social media category.

If you want to find out more about someone online, you can use Facebook Graph Search, or search for them using their work/school/college groups and pages. This can help you discover their name, email address and other personal information. You can then do a Google search using their username to discover more about them in online forums, online communities and other websites.

Online Forums

An online forum is a discussion site that allows people to post questions and reply to other users. It can be used for a wide variety of topics, from organic gardening tips to fiery political debates. Forums can be used by anyone, but most require registration to post a message. This usually involves verification of age (to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and declaration of agreement to the terms of service. A registered user is known as a member and may also be allowed to add a small picture, or avatar, to their posts.

A person who does not register with a forum is usually known as a guest. Guests are usually only granted access to functions that do not require database alterations or breach privacy. Some forums will offer guest privileges as an incentive for a person to become a member. A person who visits a forum often but does not contribute to it is known as a lurker.

Many companies use online forums to communicate with customers. These communities can be a great way for customers to connect with each other and ask questions about products and services. For example, a community of bookkeepers might discuss their experience using Quickbooks. This can help other customers make a decision about whether or not to purchase the software.

Phone Calls

A telephone call, also called a voice call or a telephone conversation, is a real-time connection over a telephone network between two parties. Private investigators use phone calls to gather information about people. However, this can be difficult as most people are guarded on the phone. Using social engineering tactics, investigators can work around these barriers and gather information. Adding your number to the Do Not Call registry is one way to reduce unwanted sales calls and nuisance phone calls, but these measures do not protect against all types of harassing calls. For example, a phishing scam or identity theft attempt can still occur.