Corporate Investigations Demystified: Tools and Tactics for Private Eyes


Following is a list of resources that may be useful in conducting corporate investigations or general business research. Private investigators often land cases that involve investigating the activities of businesses almost as often as they do for individuals. 

Several internet websites can guide you in your search for company information. The information available on these sites includes links to company websites, business contact information, research tools, and company news. Also, check out our list of other private investigator research tools.

Beginning a Corporate Investigation

When conducting business research, it is important to use various sources to get a well-rounded view of the topic. It is also important to be critical of the information you find and evaluate the sources’ credibility.

Here are some tips for conducting business research:

  • Start with a clear research question. What do you want to learn about?
  • Identify your sources. What types of sources will you use?
  • Evaluate your sources. Are they credible? Are they up-to-date?
  • Take notes. As you gather information, take notes to keep track of your sources and findings.
  • Analyze your findings. What do the data tell you?
  • Write a report. Summarize your findings and conclusions in a report.

Business research can be daunting, but it is essential to making informed business decisions. Following these tips, you can conduct business research to help you achieve your business goals.

Online and Offline Resources

There are many great resources for business research, both online and offline. Here are a few of the best:

Online Research

  • Government websites. Many government agencies collect and publish data on various business-related topics, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Small Business Administration.
    • Business news websites. These websites provide up-to-date news and analysis on various business topics. Some of the most popular business news websites include Bloomberg, CNBC, and The Wall Street Journal.
    • Industry publications. Many industry publications provide in-depth coverage of specific industries. These publications can be a great source of information on trends, best practices, and new technologies.
    • Trade associations. Trade associations represent businesses in specific industries. They often have a wealth of information on their websites, such as industry reports, white papers, and webinars.
    • Online research databases. Many online research databases offer access to academic journals, trade publications, and other business-related resources. Some popular online research databases include ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and Gale.

Offline Research

  • Libraries. Libraries have many business-related resources, including books, magazines, newspapers, and databases.
  • Business schools. Business schools often have libraries and research centers offering business-related resources.
  • Professional associations. Professional associations offer a variety of resources to their members, including newsletters, conferences, and training programs.
  • Industry events. Industry events, such as conferences and trade shows, are a great way to learn about new trends, meet potential customers and partners, and network with other professionals in your industry.

Corporate Investigations: Resources for Investigators

One of the best places to start your corporate investigations research is Dun & Bradstreet. D&B is a leading global business information, data, tools, and insight provider. Another great resource is the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission EDGAR Database.

The EDGAR database contains information on all foreign and domestic companies required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here, you’ll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.

Another great starting point for corporate investigations is, an online source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science, and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular industry, business, and country special reports.

Patent and Trademark Information

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted to an inventor in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. As an investigator, you may need to determine the original inventor who patented a particular product, such as in an intellectual property investigation.

United States Patent Office (USPO)

The United States Patent Office is the best place to start your research regarding anything having to do with patents. The USPO website allows anyone to find existing patents, including published patent applications and other published patent documentation. In addition to searching the patent database, you’ll find other information such as:

  • An overview of the patent process, including the necessary application forms and related fees
  • An overview of the applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures
  • A list of resources and programs for inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses who might need assistance with legal matters, including application filing, etc.

In addition, you can search the trademark database for trademark applications and registrations with the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

Another resource is Free Patents Online. Free Patents Online Provides fast, easy-to-use access to millions of patents. Attorneys, inventors, and private detectives use this data for patent searching. Private detectives and researchers use it to keep up with the latest developments in their field.

Other potential resources include CompuMark, the world leader in trademark and copyright services. Thomson & Thomson offers intellectual property research products and services that have gained an unmatched reputation for reliability, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Business Databases and Directories

We recommend using Hoover’s Online to look up information on specific companies. Hoovers has an extensive database of millions of companies, with in-depth coverage of more than 85 million companies worldwide. Hoover’s editorial staff and researchers bring vital business information and knowledge to their coverage, updating the site daily to bring our visitors and subscribers the most up-to-date business information in the industry.

Also, check out Yellow, which has an extensive list of yellow page listings and shopping directories with current contact information for millions of companies.

Company Information from an Investment Perspective

Investment advice websites compile much data and information about public companies to help people make investment decisions. In addition to providing helpful investment advice, investigators will find information about company ownership, structure, history, management, geographic locations, news, and more. Following are a few sample sites:

  • InvestorGuide – The company offers various services to help individuals with their finances and investments.
  • Motley Fool – The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor.
  • – The Street is a leading financial media company whose network of Web sites serves as a premier online destination for all areas where money and life intersect.


Online news websites are filled with the latest news about companies and their employees.

  • Financial Times – The Financial Times provides financial news, articles, and company profiles.
  • Yahoo! Finance – Yahoo! Finance provides extensive financial information, news, tools, and in-depth research on public companies.

Business Magazines

Business magazines provide small business owners, such as private investigators, with a wealth of information on running a small business. Learn how to make your business more successful by reading stories from business experts and other small business owners. 

Business magazines can help you stay in touch with the latest trends, technologies, and products to help run your private investigation agency. Following are some of the hottest business magazines from

Forbes Magazine

Forbes – Forbes magazine is generally considered the ultimate business magazine. It is geared toward upper-level management and discusses major issues affecting businesses and corporations. However, small business owners can learn from this publication’s insightful articles, research, and data. It touches on almost every area and issue affecting businesses of all sizes. It is an excellent publication—the perfect mag for private eyes who need to learn about the latest trends in corporate America.

Entrepreneur Magazine

Entrepreneur Magazine – Entrepreneur magazine provides information for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. It provides articles on technology, business management, marketing, business strategy, and the latest trends. If you’re considering starting a small business, this mag is packed with great ideas, inspiration, and even franchise opportunities to help get you started. This is an excellent mag for private eyes considering starting or expanding their business or franchise.

  • Wired Magazine – WIRED magazine writes about the latest stories from technology, the business world, the political environment, and hot new product trends—a great way to stay in touch with what is happening in business tech.
  • Fast Company Magazine – Fast Company is a business magazine focusing on the fast pace of business, innovation, and information.
  • Inc. – Inc. Magazine is the only major business magazine edited exclusively to guide CEOs and owners of small-to-midsize companies to success. Inc. provides fresh, insightful analyses to give the major players in the business world the tools they need to excel.

If you have questions about corporate investigations, please post a message below.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


  1. Thanks for compiling these resources. These are all good starting places. It’s easy to forget that a lot of valuable information is available at all of these well known publications & resources.


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