I hear it over and over again:
“A private investigator says he can find my husband’s secret bank accounts.”
Not without breaking the law!
I fight against this all the time. People are out there saying they can magically find the secret bank accounts. But there is no database that has all the accounts associated with someone’s name. The way that private investigators and others may get this information is by doing illegal things. (And I say “may”… because most of the time the people saying they will get this information for you are flat out lying and you’ll pay them and get nothing.)
My friend Phil Segal, a fantastic private investigator in divorce cases, wrote a great article about finding the bank accounts without breaking the law. The way you do it is by sending a subpoena to a bank. A subpoena can be used once you have a case pending in court (like your divorce, for example), and it is a legal document that forces the bank to turn over records.
But you can’t subpoena every bank out there. There are thousands! You need to narrow things down and send subpoenas to a handful of banks. How do you find the most likely banks your spouse was doing business with? Phil has great tips:
- If your spouse has a new business, subpoena the bank that company uses. Your spouse probably has a personal account there too.
- That bank could have related banks or investment companies. Subpoena those.
- Look at the notarization on documents and if any are done by bank employees, subpoena those banks.
And I’ll add my own tip to this one. You know those solicitations for credit cards and personal loans that you get in the mail from banks and credit card companies? Pay attention. If you get repeated solicitations from a particular bank, it’s possible that your spouse is already doing business with them. Banks send lots of mail once you already have an account with them. Send them a subpoena!
It’s not hard narrowing the field of banks to subpoena, but you have to know what clues you’re looking for.