Investigative Professionalism Recognized
Columbia Investigations and its detectives have been noteworthy and newsworthy, appearing in print and radio interviews. Please be aware that we will never violate a clients confidentiality... ever! Our clients come first!
Networks Advance Child Trafficking Investigation
Melinda Kidder of Columbia Investigations. Kidder, a PI, and Siedow each began making phone calls and posting Facebook and IM messages at a fast and furious clip.
On the Job: Private Investigator
Between hanging with her little girl and practicing martial arts, Melinda Kidder scopes out scenes to get the dirt on unanswered questions and finds out some unwanted information, too.
Private Investigators Declassified
What is happening to our children? Children are being bought, sold and smuggled right under our noses right here in the United States, maybe right in your own neighborhood.
Investigators with Integrity
Our team of detectives and support staff are committed to providing the highest quality investigative services.
Our law firm has retained the services of Columbia Investigations many times over the past year. Our firm is extremely pleased with the expeditious manner within which results are achieved. Columbia Investigations owner, Melinda Kidder, is very professional and courteous. We highly recommend Columbia Investigations, LLC and the services they offer!
Melinda is well known in the PI community, she conducts herself with integrity and honesty. I would recommend her without thinking twice.
When I became a target of workplace violence, stalking, theft, and identity theft, it was Columbia Investigations (CI) that came to the rescue and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Melinda has the integrity, toughness, and honesty needed in investigators today. She is freakin’ awesome and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else for your investigative needs or even to establish a baseline as support for trial.
I have worked with Melinda for approximately 15 years. She is my go-to person for all things in Missouri. Melinda is an honest, trustworthy and knowledgeable investigator. I can count on her to keep me up to date on my cases, and I trust her work. The details matter in this business, and Melinda gets me the results and details I need every single time!
Useful Tips and Tricks from the Blog
Holiday Safety Shopping Tips – Protect Yourself and Your Identity
Holiday Safety Shopping Tips – Protect yourself and your identity It’s that time of year when customers will be out in full force in the stores and spending online. I want to provide you a few tips to protect your information from identity thieves who will be ready and waiting for you as well as give general ideas for physical safety when shopping in a public venue. Online Shopping If we’re anything alike, you eschew the grind of mall shopping and do the majority of your present purchasing in the comfort of your own home. Wine? Check. Laptop? Check. Credit card? Check. Forget about the crowds and craziness. Tips for shopping online while protecting your identity are pretty simple. First, make sure your internet connection is secure. Are you using public wi-fi? Your information is not secure. Anyone sitting in that coffee shop or fast food restaurant can pull your financial information with the right knowledge and technology. Don’t shop or bank from public wi-fi. Period. Next, I recommend shopping well-known stores with good reputations. Anyone can throw a website up on the internet and charge you money for a product. Will they deliver? Check the reputation of any store where you’ve not shopped before. Google them. Ask your friends. If in doubt, do not buy. Same goes with eBay: check the seller’s reputation. If they have poor feedback, don’t buy from them. Finally, Once you’ve found the store from which you’d like to buy, be sure your information is safe during checkout by noting the https:// on their website address or by a padlock in the lower right of your browser screen. The preference is that your information is encrypted when sent over the internet to the seller. Once again, staying with reputable sellers over the internet will likely bring with it encrypted checkout. Public Shopping I can’t stress awareness enough when it comes to your surroundings. This applies both to your physical safety and protecting your identity and financial information from identity thieves. People often joke about forgetting where they parked their car, and yet its that lost person who looks great to muggers and thieves. If you’re too busy trying to find your car or digging through pockets or purse to find keys or shopping list, attackers can peg you right off the bat as a victim. If you’re just hopeless and all parking lanes look the same to you no matter what you do, then try downloading a parking locator app to your cell phone or at least park right under a light to cut down your time being lost. If in doubt, you can always take along a shopping partner. Finally, for those greatly concerned for their safety, ask for security to escort you to your vehicle, especially if you’re weighed down with packages, which can also be a safety issue. If you note a flat tire on your vehicle, immediately re-enter the store and call for assistance from that safe venue. Thieves have often used a flat tire ruse to approach and “offer assistance”… and then attack. Once in a store, we’d all like to think that we can trust the employees. Unfortunately, theft by employees is not uncommon. Scamming and identity theft by employees is also on the rise. Be sure not to be distracted during checkout and watch your checker. Whether at the grocery store or a department store, its simple for a checker to scan an item more than once, unbeknownst to the customer. Over an entire day, those little scans add up for the thief. Another scam to watch out for at the register is being short-changed. Simple and easy to detect. Finally, and most importantly, is watching what the cashier does with your credit card for the entire time its within their possession. Many customers simply hand over their credit card and begin chatting with a friend or the next person in line or checking their cell phone. During times of distraction like this, cashiers have total access to your credit card to scan for your order and then take down damaging information. For example, the old method of simply writing down the credit card information on front and back still work as well as using a piece of paper over the card and scratching a pencil over the raised numbers in order to steal the information. In the age of smart phones with cameras, however, its become painfully quick and easy to snap an image of the front and back of the card. Make sure you know where your card is at all times when its not in your possession. Now you know to be aware of your credit card, but what about your wallet? Identity thieves are now capable of simply using a small RFID reader within your vicinity and pull your financial information from your credit card – even while its in your purse, pocket or wallet. To prevent against this there are a wide variety of wallets on the market to protect against scanning. From the small RFID aluminum wallets to the executive lined versions, there’s no reason to ignore the threat. Get yourself an RFID protective wallet and protect your information. I recommend amazon.com to see a broad variety for men and women. What about the old-school pick-pockets? They’re still at work and the hustle and bustle make life easier for them. We’re used to getting bumped occasionally during holiday shopping, expecting an “Oh, excuse me, I’m sorry”. Occasionally, that “oops” moment is a bump and run of a pick-pocket, seeking your wallet. If anyone brushes against you, bumps you, etc, while shopping, be sure to check your wallet. Try not to let them see you checking your wallet in case it was a test run by a pick-pocketer’s partner to find out where your wallet is on your person. If you carry a wallet in a pocket, try a front pocket while shopping. If you carry a wallet in a purse, be sure to close your purse and not leave it open to swift hands. Finally, I’ll reiterate that awareness is your best friend and knowledge is power. Put them together to keep yourself a bit more safe this holiday season.
STOP Sex Offenders From Using Apple Airdrop on YOUR iPhone
When we think of a flasher we tend to think of a creepy guy wearing a trench coat and nothing else. There’s a new kind of flasher on the loose these days and Apple’s Airdrop on the iPhone makes it easy for cyber-flashers to find immediate victims. Watch the short video in this BBC link to learn how to keep your phone safe… and prevent the need for eye bleach … and therapy 😉 http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33889225
Is My Daughter Dating An Axe Murderer? How to Run a Background Check on Anyone – Part One
Reasons for a Background Check: One of the most common inquiries we receive at our firm is to look into someone’s background. Some clients need to know with whom their children are spending time. Others want to check out a potential spouse. The more financial savvy individuals are looking to find whether a potential investment is sound or if the deal may be a scam. Persons of a more litigious nature want to dig up the dirt before getting into the courtroom to either get something on the other guy, or make sure their own witnesses can stand up to cross examination. The number of reasons for a background check vary broadly. Application of the Law: As licensed investigators, we have to be aware of many laws which keep popping up to protect the privacy of our fellow citizens. There’s the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramm-Leach-Bliley_Act Next is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf Another is the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) http://www.accessreports.com/statutes/DPPA1.htm There are more, but these are some of the major ones by which we need to abide when checking into someone’s background for a client. If you attempt to check into someone else’s background on your own, you STILL need to abide by these laws. They’re not just for private detectives. They’re for everyone. To put it plainly, these laws are there to make sure NO ONE can have access to another individual’s specific personal information without a valid reason. To see those reasons, check out the links above. How Can I Do It Myself? What Do You Already Know? The first thing I ask a client is to write down all of the information they already know about the subject upon whom they’d like a background check. This saves them cost since I won’t be running down the same avenues they’ve already traveled in their search. More importantly, however, this helps the client to organize their needs, information, and helps establish other ideas for where to search for more facts. Database Searches: Well, you’re not going to have access to our proprietary databases such as www.irbsearch.com, www.skipsmasher.com, www.locateplus.com, etcetera. So, what about those sites all over the internet which appear to offer a background check for around thirty bucks? The difference between proprietary databases and the cheap online public access databases are that the proprietary ones typically update their information on a daily basis. However, if you’re going to do this yourself, the public one might be worth a shot as a starting point. Be sure to note that some information may be outdated or incorrect. Always double and triple check your information for accuracy, especially when your subject has a common name. Use the Power of the Internet: The internet is a wonderful tool. Learn advanced search techniques. There’s a very simple, but true, list of “do’s” at: http://www.ehow.com/how_2911_conduct-advanced-internet.html For a deep web search, check out www.paterva.com . One could not ask for a better search and relationship connecting program than Paterva’s Maltego Community Edition. I’ve been amazed at the depth to which this tool delves in its search to find information. The user interface is a bit difficult, but if you play around with it, the results will be worth the time and effort. The PI buddy who steered me to this “open source forensics and intelligence application” told me its even used by the CIA. True? I have no idea, but the program is awesome for our cause. Every investigator should add this data mining tool to their arsenal immediately. Hell, its free, too! Social Networking Sites: Don’t miss the social networking sites. Although Facebook and MySpace are enormously popular, there are so many more like LinkedIn, Naymz, etc. Even your boss might be checking on your online activity on these sites. Opposing counsel and prosecutors use social networking site searches to gather evidence and more. Here’s a great list of popular social networking sites for your search: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites Another social networking site recently pointed out to me by a friend, which is not on the above list, is secondlife.com. Its new and growing fast as a virtual reality social networking site. Pretty cool, too. However, the first time I used it, I took the tour, then clicked randomly on the map and ended up in a virtual reality BDSM shopping center with no warning of the true nature of the content in advance. The moral of the story is to be careful where you click 😉 My family is urging me strongly to get off of the computer and join them for some family time. Therefore, this post is going to be a two-parter 🙂 Melinda Kidder Licensed Private Detective Columbia Investigations Columbia Missouri 573-673-2485
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