If you’re wondering how to find someone for free on the internet, you’re not alone. Whether it’s reconnecting with a college friend, or looking for a person named in a will, there are many reasons you might need to look for clues about a person’s whereabouts online with background check (opens in new tab).
While many people prefer the opportunity to use one of the best people are looking for websites (opens in new tab), there are other ways to locate someone online if you want to do some detective work. Here are our top tips on how you can use the internet to find details for free about an individual you need to find.
How to find something for free on the internet: Preparation
Before you begin your search, it makes sense to compile a list of all the information you already have about the person. Even seemingly trivial details can be helpful in establishing their location. If possible, include information such as the following.
- Name (including any other names they used)
- Date of birth or approximate age
- Place of birth
- Details of friends and relatives
- They attended high schools or colleges
- Previous partners
- Former employers
- Possession of property or vehicle
- Any criminal trials
- Social media profiles
- Hobbies or social clubs
If you have any mutual friends or business acquaintances, try asking if they remember any details you may have forgotten.
It’s also important to say that you should consider any reasons why this person might not want to be found, and whether they will be comfortable hearing from you.
Step 1: Do a general internet search
The easiest way to track someone is often with a simple Google search. You will, of course, be more likely to find a person who has an unusual name or name with a distinctive spelling.
If you are looking for someone with a relatively common name, try combining their name with other details such as their last known location. Type quotes around their name in the search bar to keep the search criteria as strict as possible.
If Google doesn’t give results, try other search engines like Yahoo !, Bing or DuckDuckGo. Because the latter does not do any profiling on its users, you will always see the same results as anyone else looking for this individual.
Step 2: Try a reverse image search
If you found a picture of the person you’re looking for, a reverse image search might provide you with clues as to their location.
Also known as content-based image retrieval, this technique allows you to search the internet with an image, rather than written text, as your starting point. Once the search is complete, you will see details of some websites or other images related to your initial image.
If you use a laptop or desktop, you can do a reverse image search by visiting images.google.com (opens in new tab) and clicking on the camera icon. Alternatively, you can use a dedicated search engine to search for images, such as TinEye or Yandex.
By checking a person’s Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, or Instagram profile, you’ll often get an accurate idea of their location and how to contact them.
One of the easiest ways to do a search on social media is by visiting these platforms and entering basic information such as a person’s name and location into the search engine. Alternatively, you can often find a person’s social media profiles by searching Google by entering terms such as “Jane Doe Twitter”.
If searching for social media manually proves unsuccessful, you could try an engine such as Social Search Engine (opens in new tab). Because these tools control all public mentions on social media sites, they can be faster and have greater reach than manual search.
Step 4: Search for public records
When trying to find more information about an individual, you can often find clues to consider key milestones in their life, such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. If such an event has occurred, there will normally be a record of it.
When it comes to accessing this information, the laws in each state vary greatly, so spend some time researching the specific laws in the state where you are looking. Although marriage and divorce records tend to be public, birth and death certificates are often subject to stricter rules if they are less than 100 years old. You may also find that any identifiable information has been removed from any records you obtain.
Such information is generally kept by the county office, and if there is an electronic record, you may be asked to view it remotely. You should be able to find an email address or phone number for the county clerk’s office on its website. You can then contact the department directly to learn more about the process of accessing public records in the area.
Step 5: Check court records
If the person you are trying to track down has been involved in court proceedings, the documents relating to the case could provide essential evidence.
All federal court records are available through the online catalog at PACER.gov (opens in new tab), which provides information on criminal charges, bankruptcies, and civil court cases. Although you can register at PACER for free, there is a fee of 10 cents per page to access any documents. However, this fee is waived if you access less than $ 30 information per quarter.
PACER also has a case locator (opens in new tab) a tool that can help you determine if an individual is currently involved in a federal lawsuit.
Step 6: Search for prisoners
If the person you are looking for has spent time in jail, you may be able to find them through search of prisoners (opens in new tab) by the Federal Office of Prisons. Doing so will allow you to see the whereabouts of any individual imprisoned for a federal crime since 1982.
You can search using a person’s prison registration numbers or with personal information such as their name, race and gender. Note, however, that these records only apply to inmates who have been convicted of federal crimes, and the website states that certain release date information may not be up to date.
If you are looking for an inmate who was convicted before 1982, you could try looking for the National Archives Record Administration (opens in new tab).
Step 7: Look for older relatives
If you are looking for people in the millennium or generation Z age groups, they may have moved frequently for work or school. Such a lack of stability can make people more difficult to track because they have had less time to establish roots in their communities and create a digital footprint.
If, however, this person has older parents or other relatives, there is a chance that their family members will stay in the same place longer, which could make it easier for them to find online. Of course, you should always exercise good judgment when contacting these individuals, especially if there are some sensitive issues involved.
If you’ve done all the steps listed above and you’re still having trouble tracking someone, using a people search engine might be your next step.
Although you will normally have to pay a monthly fee to use these services, such as PeopleFinders (opens in new tab) or TruthFinder (opens in new tab)the best free search engines (opens in new tab) as White Pages allows you to use a limited version of features for free. By getting a free basic report, you can see details like a person’s full name, age group, landline information, and address.
The service also includes a free reverse phone lookup that allows you to type a phone number into their search engine and, if the information is a matter of public record, find details about the owner of the phone and whether the number is known to be associated with any fraudulent activity.
Step 9: Set up Google Alert
Even if you are currently unable to find any relevant information about a person online, this does not necessarily mean that you should leave your search. If you set up a Google alert for the person you are trying to locate, you may receive a notification of any future internet activity that may give some clues as to their location.
Al set an alarm (opens in new tab), you will need to go to Google Alerts and enter keywords for the topic you want to follow (in this case, the person’s name or any other relevant details). You can also select the frequency with which you would like to receive alerts, and state the types of sources you would like to check.
How to find something for free on the internet: Summary
While searching for someone online often takes time and effort, the process can be invaluable if you are able to reconnect with a foreign relative or forge a new business relationship. Using the methods described in this article is a good place to start.
It may also be worthwhile to invest in a people search tool if your best efforts are not yielding results. Although many of these carry fees, the best people are looking for websites (opens in new tab) often offer competitive bidding, and you may find that you only need to register for a short time.