1. Computing

Free People Search Sites: Are They For Real?

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Question: Free People Search Sites: Are They For Real?
Free people search sites: are they really out there, or are you doomed to spend X amount of money in your search for your long lost classmate/friend/significant other? In other words, how can you spot a scam?
Answer: If you've ever tried to find someone on the Web, you've probably come across a lot of sites that try to "sell" you information. Unfortunately, many people fall for these scams simply because they don't know how to use the variety of free tools and people search sites that are available online. Here are three thoughts to keep in mind when you're considering buying people-related information:

There are no secret access codes. The vast majority of sites that try to tell you they've got "secret" information are using the exact same resources that you have access to, for free. Don't buy something you can easily dig up yourself with just a little bit of knowledge.

Your information is not necessarily safe. Unfortunately, many people overestimate their ability to stay safe on the Web, and there are people just waiting to take advantage of this naive outlook. Using your credit card information to purchase "background information" is almost guaranteed to be problematic.

If you can't find it, they probably can't either. Not all information is necessarily online. If, after exhausting every tutorial at About Web Search, enlisting the expertise of more knowledgeable searchers, and consulting state/federal guidelines, you're not able to find what you're searching for, the chances are high that a computer-generated script robot will not be able to locate it, either.

Again, you don't have to pay for this information. Why? Because with just a little bit of practice (and a lot of patience), you can use the Web to track down almost anyone. Here are a few resources to get you started:

  • A Step by Step Guide to Finding Someone on the Web: If you're a Web search beginner, this is the best place to start when thinking of finding someone online. This step by step guide takes you through each level you need to learn, at your own pace.
  • Google People Search: Google may be the world's most popular search engine, but it's also a key to unlocking databases, digging behind information walls, and much more.
  • 15 Free People Search Engines: Search engines are useful tools, especially when they're focused only on finding people-related information. Use these niche search engines to find the person you're looking for online.

It's good to remember that in most cases you are NOT going to find everything you want in one place. Using a variety of different search engines, sites, and other search tools will help you piece together snippets of information that when brought together will give you a clear picture of who you are looking for.

Also, finding information about people is one thing; locating public records is another. In most cases, public records are not available on the Web (see The Best Sites for Free Public Records for more information).

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