If you want to find someone online, you're not alone. If you wish to reconnect with an old friend from school, biological relatives, or a person named in a will, it's not hard to get clues about their whereabouts.
This guide has some of the best tips on finding people in 2022 using the internet. You have every chance of success before the year's over.
Prepare all the info you have on them before you start looking. Even a seemingly minor detail can help you find them. Include the following information as a bare minimum:
- Place of birth
- Date of birth
- Name and aliases, if applicable
- Approximate age
- Previous partners
- Information about friends and relatives
- Previous employers
- Colleges or high schools where they went
- Interests or hobbies
- Any criminal convictions
- Social media profiles
- Property or vehicle ownership
If you have very few of these details, talk to mutual friends or acquaintances to see if they remember something. You can go on with your search now.
Try to remember if they were married, divorced, or experienced other major events in their lives. This will help you get clues and, eventually, more information. Events like divorce and marriage are a matter of public record. It's possible to access this information even though the laws vary from state to state.
Death and birth records are subject to stricter rules than divorce and marriage records. It also might be that officials remove identifiable details from publicly available records.
This information is typically maintained at the county clerk's office. It's possible to access electronic records remotely in some cases. Call the clerk's office or write to the email address listed on the website for more information.
Reunion registries can be helpful if you want to find your birth parents, but you should do a DNA test first. For one to work, you need information from other relatives. You'll get a match if you do a test with the same service as your parents. DNA testing has helped reconnect relatives on many occasions – parents with their biological children, siblings, and other relatives.
If you were adopted, get as much info as possible from agencies, your adoptive parents, public records, and other sources. It will be easier to locate your birth parents this way. You can access public records on your behalf through a background check service, provided you have at least a first and last name to go on.
Many such services are affordable and will do all the work for you. A manual search will likely take very, very long and frustrate you.
Check social networks
You might get a clue about where someone is by checking their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. These media have a search bar where you can enter the person's name and city or state to get more information.
You could also reach a profile through Google by typing "Debra Smith LinkedIn." There are specialized search engines that pick up public mentions on social networks, which will be more effective and faster than searching manually.
Free people finders
Plenty of tools claim to find people for free, and some will actually deliver if you're lucky. A basic search report on the person will be free and include their full name, landline, address, and approximate age.
Free people finders also offer reverse phone lookup, which you can use if you have an old number of theirs. Enter the number in the search bar and wait for the platform to show you who it's registered to. You won't get results if this information is not publicly available.
The site pacer.gov lists federal court records, showing if the person has been involved in some kind of litigation. Pacer also has information on bankruptcies, civil court cases, and criminal charges. You can sign up for free, but they charge a small fee per page. Pacer can also let you know if your search target is currently involved in legal proceedings.
You can use White Pages to find a person's address if you have their name and the city where they live.
Found nothing so far? Don't give up. Google Alerts might reflect the person's future activity. Enter their name and other details in Google Alerts and set up how often you want to get alerts. If the person is featured on the local news somewhere, you'll be emailed an alert.