Tracking down someone you might have lost contact with is one of the most popular activities on the Web all over the world, and with good reason: the vast amounts of free information
available online make finding people easier than ever before in history. The following tools and websites are all free and easy to use. According to About.com reader reviews and feedback, these selections deliver consistently reliable results with the least amount of work.
A couple of things to keep in mind while reading this article, and before you start using any of the resources listed here:
- Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. If the person you're looking for hasn't left much to go on, you probably won't find them all in one simple search. Give yourself time.
- Use all the tools in your toolbox. Don't limit yourself to just one search engine or just one website. Every search tool you use can give surprisingly different results.
- Keep your money. At publish time, all of the resources listed here were absolutely free. If you come across information that requires a credit card, do NOT give out your secure data. Please do let me know if you find a resource that is outdated or asks for money in order to continue.
Justin Sullivan / Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Ask someone what Google is, and they'll tell you it's a search engine. However, Google is much more than just a search engine; it offers a whole spectrum of search tools
that you can use to find people on the Web. These include finding a phone number, tracking down maps, and images.
.com, a free people search engine, uncovers a startling amount of information, most of it astonishingly accurate ("most of it" accurate; Zabasearch updates its records according to what is publicly available). You can search by what is available in the public domain for free public access. If you're not comfortable with your information being accessible in Zabasearch, read my article titled How to Remove Personal Information from Zabasearch
There are a wide variety of websites that focus only on people-related information, such as online phone directories, databases, etc. These sites are excellent resources for picking up bits and pieces of information, such as business phone numbers, obituary notices, and census data.
Surprisingly, in a day of almost limitless information online, obituaries prove somewhat tricky to find down simply because they are published by local, city, and state newspapers, who don't always update their websites accordingly. However, there are ways to find both present and past obituaries on the Web using a variety of resources and search queries.
Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook every day to connect with friends and family all over the world. You can use these incredibly deep, diverse networks to find a person, a company, a brand, an organization, really, the possibilities are endless. Note: you will need to have a Facebook account (it's free) in order to access all the Facebook information that will (potentially) be available to you.
All sorts of really interesting public, vital, historical, and genealogical records can be tracked down online, or, you can use the resources you find on the Web to give you a running start at your local records offices.
is a great source for finding background information, anything from addresses to companies to affiliated religious organizations. Possible search results can include a detailed work history, education and educational institutions, professional affiliations and up to ten years of possible Web search results that could include accomplishments, personal interests, or awards.
Search engines that focus on only people-related information, like a search engine that filters results from the Invisible Web
, or tools that bring in any related Web content
to the person you're looking for, are incredibly valuable tools when you're trying to dig up as much information as possible.
If you've ever tried to look up a cell phone number, you've probably hit a brick wall. Cell phone numbers are very attractive to people who enjoy their privacy
since they are not listed in public phone directories. However, there are ways to get around this and track down who a cell phone number really belongs to using a few clever Web search tricks.
If you're trying to figure out what part of the country a U.S. area code is related to, all you need to do is type in the area code into most any search engine. You can also use the Web to find a Toll Free Phone Directory
. You can also check out this list of the Top Ten Basic Search Skills
for more ways you can find people on the Web.