How to Find Anyone on the Internet for Free

We live in the most connected time in history. We can collaborate with people who live thousands of miles away, virtually visit places without leaving the comfort of our homes, and we can—with varying results—express our every thought to the entire world.

And yet, in some ways, we’re more isolated than ever. It’s become increasingly difficult to find people, simply due to the sheer size of our modern networks. It’s one thing to find someone still living in your neighborhood, but the task can be pretty daunting the wider you have to look.

But sometimes you need to find someone, and the good news is that most of us have a digital presence. Whether it’s idle curiosity about how an old friend is doing, or a customer or business associate whose details you’ve lost, we all sometimes need to find someone, and just popping a name into a search engine won’t always work.

For every solution on this list, the more information can you provide, the narrower and more effective your search results will be.

There are, as always, services that will take your money in exchange for locating information about people, but in most cases that’s not necessary if you’re willing to put in a little effort. Step one is to put together the information about your subject that you already have. For every solution on this list, the more information can you provide, the narrower and more effective your search results will be. Full name, age, and any sort of residence info (even just knowing the country and state or province is helpful) will get you much more focused results. Age is often the most useful, as it can immediately eliminate a ton of false hits. Once you’ve done that, here’s how you can find someone on the Internet at no cost.

First, a note about ethical people searching

These free resources should help you make contact with someone you assume is okay with being found. If you exhaust these tools and still haven’t found your subject, consider the possibility that they don’t want you to find them, and leave them alone. And if you yourself don’t want to be found, consider a service like DeleteMe that can help scrub your digital footprint from the Internet.

The White Pages are still around

White pages sites have been around almost as long as the Internet itself. If you’ve ever searched for someone online you’ve likely tried one or two, and they’re all basically the same: You type in someone’s name and some other info, and the service returns a list of possible matches. Then, invariably, you find yourself in a sales funnel as the site promises a detailed “background report” in exchange for cold, hard cash.

These sites can still be very useful though. Whitepages.com, for example, will show you a list of current and past addresses, possible relatives, approximate age, and even some phone numbers for free. It’s pretty bare-bones information, but it’s often all you’ll need to be able to make contact or find a piece of data you can use in one of the other services we’ll discuss here.

TruePeopleSearch is a similar site that offers most of the same info for free; comparing the results from each can give you what you need to reach out.

You can make a public records request

Almost all state and local governments have online tools to request public records. As you might guess from the name, these are records that are legally made available to anyone who makes a formal request. While some municipalities might still require you to come to a physical office to fill out the necessary forms, most will have online portals to do so (for example, New York State maintains a Freedom of Information Law online form). While there may be a fee charged by your local government, this often depends on the specific records you’re requesting.

What can you get from public records? That also varies depending on your location, but in general, marriage licenses, birth and death records, court and criminal records, and property and tax records should be available. One thing to keep in mind is that even with the Internet, accessing these records can be a chore, as they are often stored in separate databases, and each request requires a fresh form to fill out. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can get a ton of information about someone for free.

Track their social media footprint

Just about everybody has a social media footprint these days, so searching for someone’s socials should be one of the first things you do when trying to track someone down. By triangulating Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram profiles, you can usually figure out where someone is and how to get in contact with them. And LinkedIn is an obvious way to make professional contact with someone.

One way is to plug everything you know about the person (name, age, location, etc.) into Google and add on a “site:” tag. For example, you could search “John Smith” “Reno” site:Facebook.com to see all the John Smith profiles that mention Reno, Nevada. Alternatively, a site like Social Searcher will search a wide range of social media platforms all at once.

Do a reverse image search

Despite the obvious lies of Star Trek and its voice-activated computers, research on today’s Internet remains largely text-based. But that blinds us to a very powerful tool: The Reverse Image Search. If all you have to go on is a photo of someone (say, from a social media account), you can try a reverse search to see where else the image lives, which might, in turn, give you some clues as to how to contact the person.

Google already offers this: Go to images.google.com and click on the little camera icon (“search by image”). Then either paste in a picture’s URL, upload it from your hard drive, or drag it from your desktop or another browser window. Google will then show you other places the image resides.

Alternatively, you can try a site like TinEye, which does the same thing but offers a slightly more targeted list of results. The accuracy or helpfulness of these searches will depend a lot on whether the photo you have has been used by the person you’re trying to find.

Do an inmate search

If you’re using the Internet to find someone, you likely don’t know much about them—if nothing else, you clearly don’t know them well enough to easily contact them. So consider the possibility that the reason you can’t find them is that they’re incarcerated.

The good news is that most state and federal prison systems allow you to search for inmates on the Internet at no cost, and some even allow you to send prisoners messages. However, in many states corresponding with a prisoner costs money and may require you to sign up for a service like JPay (which can also be used to locate an inmate).


Источник: Lifehacker