Gathering Personal Information Discreetly

Gathering personal information discreetly can be a challenge. People can be naturally guarded and it can be difficult to break down their defenses in order to gain access to their vulnerable information.


Information can be collected directly from a person or indirectly from a third party. For example, an intake interview with a youth is direct collection. A teacher calling a children’s aid society with concerns about a child is indirect collection.

1. Get to Know the Person

It can be tricky to gather information discreetly, especially when you’re trying to get to know someone. Most people are naturally guarded to a degree, so it takes time to slowly build trust with them. To do this, you need to spend time getting to know their personality, jokes, quirks, and more.

To do this, you can ask questions about their family or past experiences. It can also help to find out what their hobbies are and see if they have any common interests. You can also search for them on social media using Facebook’s graph search or by looking up their company, school, college groups & pages, and more. If you have their email address, a Google search with their username can help you find other profiles and online forums they might be on.

By changing the topics if you feel that they’re prying into something you’re uncomfortable with, you can keep your personal information safe and still be able to get to know them. This is an important skill for intelligence gathering, so it’s worth practicing.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Sometimes, gathering information discreetly requires asking questions that may seem sensitive or personal. However, if you’re feeling like someone is prying into your information, it’s okay to change the topic and ask different questions.

Einav Hart, an assistant management professor at George Mason University and Eric VanEpps, an associate marketing professor at the University of Utah, spoke to Knowledge at Wharton about their paper on “The (Better Than Expected) Consequences of Asking Sensitive Questions.” Hart suggests that our fears around asking touchy questions are often overblown, especially when they’re phrased correctly.

He explains, “Sensitive questions are ones that make people feel uncomfortable or inappropriate in a particular context and are about information that others might want to keep private.” Asking these types of questions can help us understand our peers better and make more informed decisions. When phrased correctly, these questions can also help strengthen relationships by allowing us to talk more openly about topics that are often avoided for fear of being perceived as rude or intrusive.”.

5. Be Honest

Being honest is a key component of genuine moral goodness. It is a trait that can be exhibited in both personal and professional relationships. However, honesty can be a dangerous thing, especially when used without discretion. This is particularly true when it comes to gathering personal information discreetly.

It is important to think through how much you want to share with a person, and find the right time and place to do so. Remember that not everyone is worthy of your entire life story. Before divulging anything personal, try to inoculate them by sharing a small bit of the information with them and seeing how they respond. This will allow you to know whether the relationship is one that is appropriate for this type of information, and will give them a chance to get comfortable with your privacy settings.

Consider the intellectual integrity of various communications that you encounter in your day-to-day life: product advertisements, news reports, sermons, political speeches, scientific journals and papers, research findings, documentaries and documentary films, rumors, and everyday conversations. Identify any instances of dishonesty in these types of communication, and challenge it when you notice it.