Engines and Getting Started.
Start out using search engines to find a person by name, add the location you suspect
the person being in or having been in the past...check the results. Using "Quotations"
around your request will get EXACT results from the search engine (in your search
results, the words John Smith will be together in a sentence instead of apart on
the page) You can add a "+" sign to add more to the request "John Smith"
+ Arlington, VA to get more specific, but generally, you can type in a simple
request like this "john smith Arlington VA" (without the quotes). If the
results are not helpful, try loosening the search by using just the persons name
and city, then if necessary, even more with just the name.
If you don't find John Smith on Google People Search, that doesn't mean they
know it all about John Smith. Try MSN Search, then others. Eventually you
will notice two things; the type of results you get from different types of search
engines and which search engines are using the same results. This is the best way
to start your search because most search engines theses days are updating constantly
or have current public access information, like newspapers and online news sources.
Dig Deeper and Try Your Luck With Free People Search Sites.
When you go looking for free search sites, don't use complicated terms, be simple
and to the point: free people search, free people searches, find people free, people
searches and so on. Good sites are spread out all over the place and may show up
higher in a search engine when using different phrases. Usually, you are going to
find sites that have multiple search boxes to search engines or directories and
they are all in one spot too. No running from site to site if you can help it. Others
also have a range of links to other searches or pages of links to information that
might help you directly, usually State or Country specific.
Another useful feature of
some free people search sites is a forum, blog or some means of posting your search
for the public to find. The more often you can post, "I'm Looking For John Smith
From Arlington Virginia" on the internet, the more likely someone who knows John
will run into it or John will find it himself, just don't go giving out too much
information like social security numbers.
While using a free search site, use all
the searches possible, even the email search. You may think that long lost Uncle
John never got into computers, but you might find him to be a big geek now with
several email addresses. The process of going from one source to the next is to
gather information to add or use in a future search. If you can narrow down a specific
area in a state, that would be perfect. Using public records would be the next,
if not final step if you haven't achieved your goal by now.
Public Records To Find A Person.
You may be thinking that using Public Records is an obvious way to find someone,
but try to be creative in your public record searches. One cool trick is; a person
can be tracked down by their occupation if they are licensed or certified by the
state they work in. More than half the states give access to the public to verify
if a person claiming "Licensed" of "Certified" status really is, often to the extent
of revealing either home address or where they are or have been employed, sometimes
both! Court records are often the same, offering plenty of information that is free
to the public, even if the person didn't commit a crime, some states. counties and
cities will post all public records and results from court proceedings.
Here's more tips for state and local
- Most sites are different, be aware
that one website might call Vital Records Vital Statistics or Records Registry.
Different states have different job titles and duties for some of their vital statistics
staff or the departments that handle birth certificate, divorce certificate, death
certificates or marriage license records. Look harder and not always for the obvious.
- Police Departments and Corrections
Facilities often keep records, some posted, to any activity and may report on both
parties in an altercation. Maybe Uncle John got his car stolen.
- USE YOUR PHONE! Some of the smaller
or limited local sites won't have the information online, like divorce records,
but a phone call and friendly attitude can often get plenty of info.
- Write a letter - for the same reasons
- Local Governments like to post minutes
and records from public meetings including names and addresses of those involved.
- Schools and facilities often post
searches or information they have on people that they are either looking for or
have found. Being smaller sites it may be something a search engine overlooked.
Here: Try to be creative in your public record searches
The Difference Between Pay For Records
Sites and Free People Search Sites.
Besides money, the biggest difference is that the pay site probably has databases
of public records information on people that they bought from utility companies
and other information collection sources, while the people search site relies on
information that is publicly accessible from the internet. For instance; InfoUSA
licenses it's information to other popular companies who run directory and/or search
services as well as selling records to the public. Intelius.com offers limited information
on their partner sites. like Addresses.com, but for detailed or extensive information,
you will be directed to the main site to pay for a report that may contain accurate
or stale information.
Another difference is between the types
of free sites you'll find is a lot of the popular sites in search engines are merely
gateways to "Pay" sites. The pages are designed to be search engine friendly but
the search really is to take you to some pay site and all the links on the first
site lead to the pay site. There is no real content to be found. You can always
try them to see how much they are willing to give for free, but the curse is that
some use the information you give them to make mirrored results, results that look
accurate, making you think you're on to something.
Perseverance - The Best Search Assistant.
Sometimes searching for something on the internet, like a great deal on computers,
is fun or exciting even. Looking for a person on the web may feel like work, and
it often is, but you can't let dead ends be dead ends, just corners. I mentioned
earlier that no source is absolute, so don't think it's over or hopeless if you
have only been at it a few hours, some of us took months to find the right sources
to put together our brother's address and phone number, but in the end it was done
and we are all happier for it.
If you are successful with free searches, GREAT, but understand, there are some
folks who have stayed in such a place in life that they just didn't end up being
placed on the internet. You may find that a reputable pay site is the only one who
has the answers from a public record source they bought and if the person you are
looking for is important enough, of course you'll pay. Make sure the pay for search
site is certified or verified somehow so that they have to follow some standards
of business before you purchase anything from them and that they will protect your
privacy. One that provides a "No Results, No Pay" policy is best.
In the end, use your best judgment.
If you can afford to get it over with, pay now, but for the rest of us, keep trying
until you are certain you have done your absolute best to exhaust all the free resources
that are available, the person you are searching for might appreciate it as much
The author is a webmaster and website designer for
and several other sites dedicated to providing free people search and access to
public records on the internet.