There is nothing worse than losing contact with someone who matters to you. Sometimes loss of connection is purposeful or temporary, but it can become painful in the long term when… Read More
Knowledge is power and sometimes it’s hard to sort friend from foe. There are many different reasons for wanting to track someone down online or get more information about them. Sometimes, it’s a new love interest with a mysterious past that needs immediate clarification. Or, it might be a former spouse you have unfinished legal ties with, an ex lover, a relative, a business partner who made off with the cash, a next door neighbor, a fraudulent catfish, or prospective babysitter…. the list goes on!
Fortunately, the days of needing to hire a private investigator have slimmed and it’s now far easier to get the information you need online, from the privacy of your computer and by following these steps.
1. Google- Yeah, you knew that was coming, but Google is the first and foremost ‘go to’ source for information stalking (in the happy-go-lucky sense, as we’ll assume for this article that your intentions for finding out information about another are tame, appropriate, and benevolent). Google is the can’t miss it starting point for any information search. Often a well thought out Google search will give you the basic information you need or point out where you should take your search next.
Searching someone’s name is basic. What about the other details you know, or knew, about them. Don’t hesitate to try their state, city, age, marital status, maiden or married name, job, hobbies, school, favorite social media type (try Instagram, Facebook, to name a few), close friend’s names, nicknames, and other details in the Google search engine. Entering all of those criteria in one search will overwhelm Google’s results, giving you slim pickings. Try their name with one extra category at a time. Ex.; Jane Doe, Art Dealer.
2. Social Media Extravaganza- Maybe you found your person of interest through Google and it told you everything you need to know. However, if you only have a few details to start with or the person in question has a common name, you might want to follow up with a social media search. This too can be done through Google, or for pinpointed accuracy, through the social media site itself. In fact, if you know little about the person, starting with a site like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn may help more. Maybe it’s through a social media site that you see the person’s city or hobbies, which you can later expand on in a Google search. If you know the name of a friend of your sought after candidate, then look them up as well. Some people use privacy settings and are more easily found through their friend’s or relative’s pages and links. LinkedIn will often be a giveaway as to where the person is currently working and/ or graduated from college. If you see the city they’re working in, you can assume they live in that general vicinity. If privacy is important to your search, beware of the social media site. Some keep searches private, but LinkedIn can display who visited who’s profile, unless settings instruct not to.
3. Nicknames- People get attached to their nicknames. The nickname my mother called me when I was 2? I still use a variation of it on Instagram and for my email address. If you know someone’s email address, try searching the personalized part of the address that comes before the @gmail.com, etc., like JANEDOE12345. Or, if you know their email has been JANEDOE12345@_____.com for the last five years, there is a strong likelihood that address is connected to message boards or accounts Google will display. Other times, their name will show you a message board that gives a glimpse of their user name and you can then search that.
4. Pictures- What’s in a name? A lot, but having a photo only doesn’t mean that your search is lost. Plus, with a photo match, the results will always be accurate. If it’s an appropriate situation (like someone is a beloved great aunt and you can’t find her) you can post the photo of Instagram or Facebook and ask for help. This only works if it’s someone you should find or whom people support you finding. Other people use Missed Connections on craigslist.org and post photos of the one they’re trying to find, with a few explanations as to why. Results might be weak. Tin Eye allows a reverse picture search and claims to scour the web and update their database regularly. If you’re skeptical, try using a photo of yourself first, that is widely available online. See if the reverse photo search site you use yields results. Our own reverse image search can give you the most comprehensive results, as we are used to catching everything from Catfish to Heartbreakers to all types of scammers, and scour every information field we can, to provide you with results! Ours is the only reverse image search that focuses on helping you find people.
5. Study- Maybe you know a few people online or in person, who can help you in your search, but are afraid to ask. It’s okay to ask, but ask the right questions. If it’s a deadbeat ex not paying child support, coming out guns blazing may not encourage his or her mother to give you information. If your questioning is more light hearted and delicate, you can find out a lot more. The same holds true for a potential Catfish or Scammer. Don’t necessarily start with the big questions, start asking smaller questions that will lead you to the information you want. For instance, instead of asking the name of their work, find out the industry, city, and then do a search of their name and that area. If you like reading, there are books on how to find out what you want to know from ‘anyone’, based on asking smart questions. “Find Anything From Anyone, Anytime” (http://www.amazon.com/Find-Anything-From-Anyone-Anytime/dp/1601632983).