Searching the Internet for an Individual
This page describes several search techniques which may
help you look for an individual
Using the Internet to search for an individual can be a challenge.
Obviously the more you know about the person, the more likely it will be that
you can find them using the Internet.
Google - You can try searching for the
person's name in Google. This will only work if that person's name has
been typed onto a web page, and that web page has also been discovered by
Google. You have to ask yourself; "How 'public' is this person, how likely
is it that my target person has built his own web page, or has been mentioned on
someone else's web page?". Another drawback to this approach, is that
there may be hundreds/thousands of people with the same exact name as your
target person. See my
Overview of search tools
for a description of how search engines work.
Google - You can also try searching for
the person's email address in Google. Email addresses are unique
(one of a kind). A regular Google search may show the person's email
address on a web page, or in an online guest book.
Google_groups - Google has a
full-text, searchable archive all the text of all the messages posted to the
usenet newsgroups for the past 20 years. You can search these bulletin boards for your person's name or person's email address. See
my Overview of Usenet for more information.
Specific searches - In most searches for individuals, you will have to
get into Specific Databases due to the
shape of the Internet's Information Space. There are thousands of
specialized databases link on my
Specialized Search Tools- page.
Here are some examples:
- public records: searchsystems
- links to 20,000+ different public record databases.
- Phone books - Most people have a telephone. Online
databases such as anywho can quickly
locate anyone how has a listed phone number. Anywho can also show
you: a map to the person's house, and a list of their neighbors' names,
addresses, phone numbers. Anywho also allows you to do a reverse lookup (enter
the phone number and find out who owns it.
- Country specific search tools and Phone books: as listed on my
country-specific search page.
- Real Estate Tax Records - In many counties/states this is public
information, and the county may provide that information via the Internet.
See Fairfax County Tax Assessment as an example.
- Law Enforcement - They sometimes make information available to the
public about criminals such as
Offender registries. For example, Virginia's
List includes current address, and color photograph.
- Court Records - Most of these are considered public records and may
be available online. You would have to know which court system your
target person may have had dealings with.
- Fee-Based Services - There are numerous pay-services which do a
simultaneous search such of the public records listed above. Examples:
many more listed at YAhoo.
- Other public databases - The Fee-based services often describe
their sources. For example, discreetresearch.com mentions many of the
resources they search (state criminal records, Motor vehicle records, etc.)
If the Fee-service can search a state's DMV records, there is a good chance
that you too can search the state's DMV records. You would need to find
the DMV's website and browse around for a records search. Most state home
pages, County home pages, etc. can easily be found using a directory such as
- Personalized searches. - What else do you know about the person.
For example, if you know they went to a particular college, search for the
college's web site, and see if they have an alumni directory.
- Credit Check - If you are "a business", you might be able to run a credit
check on someone if you know enough of their information. Experian
, Trans Union
misc articles - Show many other ways some might be tracked in
Note for my Alumni: Your referrals are always appreciated