Conducting people searches is fairly common today. People finder sites can provide vast volumes of information if you want to do an informal background check on an employee, find out more about a new neighbor, or track down a lost relative.
This guide was created to help you understand what these sites are and how they work.
What are people searches?
You can use a people finder to track down people online, usually using a specific search engine. The search results can include personal details obtained from public sources.
What kind of information is available?
You can get the following information:
- Contact details
- Criminal records
- Address history
- A list of family members
- Social media profiles
- Personal information
- Marital history
Where do people finders get their data?
People finders typically scour public databases and compile the data into a background check report. They pull information from public profiles and records, marriage records, court records, etc.
Are people searches free?
People finders can yield a lot of information, but it’s not all free. Many of them offer basic personal details like a person’s name, age, and current or past address, but there is a fee for additional records.
Reasons to do people searches
Common reasons to do a people search include employment, tenancies, and personal reasons, like looking up an old friend. Bad hires can be costly. It’s estimated the employer sustains a loss of around a third of the employee’s annual salary. The expense is generated from lost productivity, lost work, and time spent dismissing them and rehiring for the position.
Employers can be held liable for negligent hiring if an employee causes a problem at work that the company could or should have predicted.
People searches can provide insight into past issues, such as workplace theft, misappropriation of company funds, cybercrimes, or dubious inventory management practices. An employer should know if a potential hire has had these or similar problems in the past.
Find a lost relative or friend
Many people use searches to find relatives, friends, and acquaintances. A search can help if a family member passes away and you want to locate extended family, or you want to get in touch with a coworker from a previous job.
How do people searches work?
When you visit a search website, you must enter a small amount of information into a search bar. This can include their name, phone number, or any other information you have.
First and last name
You usually need to enter their first and last name to find more info about them. If that’s all you have to go on, the site will probably return a lot of results with just a name.
Most sites let you provide more details to narrow the results down. If you have their number, you can do a reverse number search to get more info about them.
Current or previous location
Adding a city and state can help narrow the search down. If you don’t know their current city or state, you can enter a previous city or state they were associated with.
You can enter their address into a people finder. This is a good way to get more information about a new neighbor.
Other ways to do people searches
People finders are not the only tool to get more information about someone. You can use Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
A simple Google search is an easy way to find information, but you’ll be more successful if you run an advanced search. Go to “Settings” under the search bar, then click on “Advanced search.” A form will pop up. From here, you can:
- Conduct a search that removes certain words
- Search for someone’s exact name
- Search specific websites
Advanced searches are recommended because the results are more accurate. You’ll also have fewer records to sift through.
Don’t rely solely on Google – try search engines like Yahoo or Bing to see what kind of information is available there. If you don’t want the search engine to track your searches, try a privacy-focused one like DuckDuckGo.
Social media are a rich source of personal data, for better or for worse. Facebook is still the biggest and most popular social medium, so using it as a search tool makes sense.
Doing a Facebook search is as simple as entering a name into the search bar. Go to “People” to specifically search for that name. To improve the results generated, use the filters that appear on the left side. You can select “Education” and add the name of a college.
LinkedIn is particularly helpful for recruiters who are looking for identifying data. People’s LinkedIn profiles can provide employment experience, education, certificates, skills, and recommendations from others.