While the reasons for trying to find someone may differ – long lost love, distant family members, a friend that owes you cash, or a friend that seems to have disappeared—the methods of tracking someone down remain pretty consistent. For most people, this means opening a search engine, typing in the individual’s name, and hitting submits. The results of this search are dependent on a lot of factors; how common is the name? How generic is the search you performed? How old is the individual you’re trying to find?
If you’re trying to find someone online with minimal information, it may make your search a little more complicated. After all, there could be thousands of people in the world named John Smith. Narrowing down these search results can be time-consuming, especially if the name is common. Although search engines are always a decent place to start searching online, if this method doesn’t pull up the results you need, you may spend hours looking through result pages without success.
Rather than waste time on methods that don’t work, here are a few standard methods to find people online that bring back results.
Background Check Websites
If you don’t mind paying for a service, background check websites are a fabulous way of tracking someone down. These platforms will often source their information through massive databases, a process that would take a person days to complete. As this method is primarily automated, a reputable website like CheckPeople will cross-reference any information found with the information you’ve provided. Most websites will only need the name, birthday, or city of address to start narrowing down the search. From there, you’ll be able to answer simple questions about the person you’re trying to find.
Once the system has found the individual, a comprehensive report will be created, including personal contact information, financial records, driver’s abstracts, social media, and more. Through their contact information, you’ll be able to contact them directly.
Using the Power of Social Media
Social media is becoming increasingly popular with all age groups, making it the perfect platform to track someone down. Each social media network has the ability to search for a person, although the information needed varies considerably. If the search function fails to help you in your search, consider making a personal post online. This post can include the person’s contact information, a photo, and a plea as to why you want to find them.
The content found on social media has a higher likelihood of attracting attention; a simple post or video can bring in millions of views or interactions. If you hope to reconnect with a romantic partner, consider whether this person has moved on before trying to contact them. For example, are they married or in a committed relationship? If so, leave them alone out of respect. Keep these details out of the post.
Ask For Help Locally
Depending on the details you know of the person, using location-based services can significantly increase the chances of finding the person online. It never hurts to ask forums, groups, or classified ads for help tracking this individual down. The person you’re trying to find may see the post directly. Try to include some identifying information about the person, including a general physical description if the name is familiar. Tattoos, identifying features, or describing their family (for example, “they have one brother and two sisters”) may help identify this person.
Make Yourself Accessible Online
If you’re trying to find someone with minimal information, help them connect with you by making things as easy as possible. Creating social media profiles with your name and recent photo (or past photo that they’ll recognize) can increase the opportunity to find you.
Likewise, you can try to connect with the person if you know their employment history. Find any groups or forums that the person may frequent and join the groups too.
Become an active participant in the groups whenever possible, without spamming your intentions of finding someone. Try to look through various Reddit categories that may pertain to the person you’re trying to find. Additionally, you can reach out to any prior clubs, groups, or teams that the person was actively involved with to see if anyone has any information that may help you in your search.
Reach Out to Family and Friends Online
If you happen to know of any family or friends, try to find them online. Social media allows communication between individuals, even if they’re not connected personally. You can send out a generic message to anyone matching the family or friends, indicating who you are and why you’d like to contact the person you’re looking for. If you are comfortable, leave multiple methods of communication, whether that’s email, phone, or social media details. Although the friends and family members may not give you identifying information, they may be more inclined to pass on information they receive.
Understanding When to Quit Searching
Unfortunately, some people don’t want to be found, whether it’s an emotionally complex subject or moved on in their lives. If you’ve contacted the person in question and they aren’t receptive, give them space. Some people aren’t open to reconnecting with people from their past, especially previous romantic relationships. If they are in new relationships, seeing your name may cause problems or controversy between them and their new partner.
Should you try to find someone for a negative reason (trying to get money from them, support, or other perceived hostile activity), it may be best to let the courts find the person in question. Tracking someone, trying to contact an individual that has asked for privacy, or pushing an ongoing issue may be perceived as harassment or stalking. As such, it’s always best to use your judgment before continuing in your search. Slander and libel should also be considered when disclosing personal details about the individual you’re trying to find. As such, keep the negative information minimal when talking to others.