When a loved one goes missing, the lives of family members and friends may be thrown into chaos.  Daily life can become dominated by activities that are focused on locating the missing person as quickly as possible.

Reaching out to others to help in the search is an effective way to increase the number of “eyes” that are looking for your loved one.

The need for balance

No matter which type of media you use to reach out for help, once information is made public, it is impossible to control how the information is used or appears publicly.  If the information will not help the public to recognize your missing loved one, it may be better to keep the information private.

Before releasing sensitive information, consider how your missing loved one would feel if the information became public.  Would it embarrass your loved one?  Is it information that is vital to locating them?  If not, you may wish to keep it private.

What not to include

Never list personal identification numbers such as Social Insurance Number (SIN), driver’s license, passport number, banking information, personal address, missing person’s date of birth or other similar private information.

This type of information should be shared privately with police.  Only police and a small group of agencies have the access to use this information effectively.

If foul play is suspected

Before posting information, consult with police to make sure sensitive details are kept confidential.

Use photographs that show only your loved one in order to protect other family members and friends.

Please keep in mind that those responsible for your loved one’s disappearance may use your information to avoid police, keep track of the investigation, or to create an alibi.

Providing contact information

When appealing for information, add the contact number for the police service handling the case and the Crime Stoppers toll-free number:

Never give out your private phone number, address, place of employment, or private email addresses.

Instead, create a separate, dedicated email address to use while searching for your missing relative.  Naming the account “Help Find”, “Missing Person” or “Missing” plus your loved one’s name will help to focus the purpose of the account.

If your situation requires it, purchase a dedicated cellular phone or land-line that can be disconnected once the search is over.

Protecting your privacy online

Separate your personal accounts from accounts created while searching for your missing relative.

Have a trusted friend administer any websites or groups you create.  This creates a buffer that can protect family members from harmful rumours or comments.

This document has been developed by the CCIMA for general information purposes (12/2012).