I am a private investigator who had never before used the services of Skopenow. I had run across this company name a few times, amidst the many other databases and related services available to private investigators and other similar industries. When I first became a PI, I took the advice of several other private investigators and signed up for a few of the major database providers in the industry.
But as a social media investigations specialist, I decided it was time to give Skopenow a trial run to see for myself if it was worth adding to my repertoire of resources.
What IS Skopenow?
Skopenow pulls information from across the web and compiles it into neatly packaged reports for each target of a search.
The Skopenow team scours social media, blogs, comments, posts, email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, court records, usernames, web sightings, pictures, screenshots, timestamps, nicknames, and family members… virtually anything with a digital footprint.
As a user, I have the choice to piece the report together myself using the information Skopenow finds, or I can hire the Skopenow team to do all the legwork for me and provide me with a finished, polished report. The fact that this is even an option is quite nice and puts the power into the hands of the user.
Who Can Use Skopenow
Skopenow advertises its people search services to law enforcement, government, human resources, insurance companies, and any consumer who wants to find and reconnect with family, classmates, and colleagues.
In speaking to the company directly, most of their customers are private investigators, insurance companies, and other large corporate clients.
Let’s Talk Money
My attention was first drawn to Skopenow’s current 7-day free trial offering, which includes unlimited free searches, free support, and free PDF reports. A lot of other companies try hooking potential clients with a limited number of free searches, but rarely do I see unlimited free searches coupled with free support and full access to every aspect of their product.
And let’s be real. Pricing is often one of the first things we all check out on a company’s website. No need wasting my time on anything I can’t afford.
Skopenow offers subscriptions that range from $49 to $419 monthly, depending on the number of reports a user intends on running and how many employees need access to Skopenow. These monthly fees decrease to a range of $44 to $377 for customers who pay for a year’s subscription, which is a total cost savings of $5 to $42 per month. If I want to hire the professionals at Skopenow to conduct the research for me and present to me a polished report, it’s going to cost an additional $27-$30 per report.
Another option for customers is to use a pay-as-you-go plan. Currently, each pay-as-you-go search is $5, which includes live-edit functionality and a court-ready PDF report. There are no usage minimums or maximums for the pay-as-you-go plan.
Pretty sweet for a solo practitioner like myself who would likely lose money with a monthly plan.
The only kicker with the pay-as-you-go option is that it doesn’t offer the dozen free re-scans that are included with all of the other subscription plans.
No matter which plan you choose, every one of them offers object and behavior recognition; automated monitoring and tracking; association analysis; email, phone, and username information; relationship and location data; social media images and profiles; screenshots and source metadata; video extraction; PDF report storage and live editing; fuzzy name analytics; file and document handling; usage analytics; API integration; instant results; and mobile access.
Skopenow’s website boasts eight video tutorials that walk their clients through registering an account, conducting a search, editing and creating a PDF, reviewing their payment plan, adjusting their user settings, viewing search history and navigating results, creating employee accounts, and managing their account.
They also offer a free 15-minute or 30-minute demo that is super quick and easy to schedule.
I signed up for a 30 minute demo to be previewed the following morning. The one-on-one demo was conducted by the very friendly Skopenow employee, Andres Arevalo, who walked me through each step of a search and fully answered every question I asked. His laid back and friendly demeanor was refreshing.
At the end of my demo, Andres signed me up for a free 7-day trial and the promise to call me in one week to follow up.
How It Works
As I played around within the system using my free trial, I was pleasantly surprised with how simple and intuitive it was for me to jump right in. There are several starting points to work with, depending on what information the user has on their target in the beginning.
The user can search by name and couple it with location or choose from a laundry list of other options: date of birth, age, phone number, address, email, username, jobs, or schools.
When Andres walked me through the demonstration, he used me as the target for the search so I could see for myself the breadth of information Skopenow is able to find.
Andres located my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts, as well as accounts belonging to all of my siblings, my mother-in-law, and one sister-in-law. It missed accounts belonging to another sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, my husband, and my parents. He found my complete address history (with a pin map of my current address), a current phone number, an old landline number, my personal email address, my business website, several news articles from my crime analysis days, a published magazine article, and several directory listings, both personal and business.
There were a few profiles and sites that led to the wrong Rachele’ Davis, but about 95% of the information was accurate.
All of the information is accompanied by metadata that is useful for cases that go to court. Each screenshot has a clickable link that leads to the original source of the information. The user can add and delete content as necessary, edit the appearance of the report, and even personalize the report with the color scheme and logo of their own company.
Here is a rundown of the perks of Skopenow, as I see them:
- All subscription plans include up to a dozen free re-scans within a year’s time. A user can automatically set re-scans based on preference (daily, weekly, monthly). The re-scan will simply look for any new information that has been added since the last search was conducted.
- Each search boasts a live-edit functionality, which comes in quite handy.
- Every search is accompanied by a court-ready PDF report that includes metadata information. The report can be personalized to the user’s own color scheme, logo, business information, etc.
- Skopenow offers a live chat feature on their website anytime a user has a question or runs into trouble. This gives them big-time customer service points in my book.
- If you’re a small business or solo practitioner like me, you have the option to start small with a pay-as-you-go plan. If I need to run two reports in a month, I pay ten bucks. If I run ten reports the next month, I pay $50. If my traffic starts increasing, I can always upgrade to a subscription plan.
- Skopenow is a small company that provides a personal touch. I’m a small guy (well, gal), so I like to support other small guys (and gals). When I was walking through the demo with Andres Arevalo, the CEO, Rob Douglas, was nearby and told Andres to tell me thanks for the recent follow on Twitter. Rob also told me he had a few things to add to my recent blog post on social media investigations. See? Nice personal touch, fellas.
Why I Chose to Sign Up and You Should Too
If you are a private investigator who doesn’t currently use social media in your investigations, you are behind the times and missing out on a huge chunk of valuable data in EVERY case you work.
If you aren’t using social media because you don’t have the knowledge or it’s just another time-suck to add to your list of duties, Skopenow has found a way to solve both problems for you.
With Skopenow, you can choose to use their team to do all of the research and even put together a nice report for you, all for a measly $30. It would basically be like having your own social media investigative team at your disposal FOR THIRTY DOLLARS PER CASE.
If you don’t want to enlist that much of their help, you have another choice to simply use their resources and put together your own report for less than what it would cost you to grab a value meal at McDonalds.
And chances are, Skopenow will find information on the web that you would miss altogether or that would take you hours to compile yourself.
It comes down to this - Skopenow is offering a killer service to private investigators that shouldn’t be overlooked or dismissed as just another company trying to make money.
After my 30-minute demo, a review of their website, and running free reports for seven days, I decided to sign up and become a regular user of Skopenow. If you’re a private investigator, I think it would be worth your time to at least sign up for a free trial as well. Use it for a week.
It’s resourcefulness will prove itself to you. I promise.
Oh, and just to be clear, I wasn’t paid or cajoled into writing this article.