How to Find People Online Without Much Information

When you need to get more information about a person, you can feel overwhelmed as the internet is overflowing with it.

People who seem to have no digital footprint at all can be found using public records. Social media, search engines, and background check sites can be effective if you want to find an old friend or a tenant who's gone AWOL. Here are a few options to find people online, even if you have almost nothing to go on.


Google

Google

Any people search starts here, but as a bare minimum, you need their name. To perform a search properly, you should surround the name with quote marks along with any other information you might need. A simple Google search can retrieve information about what their job is, where they live, and other details.

You can sign up for Google News and Google Alerts to get more information about a person. Google News will show if they've been in the news for whatever reason. Google Alerts come in the form of emails to your inbox, usually once a day, but you can choose how often you get them.

Use Show Options to customize settings like language and region after you enter the person's name in google.com/alerts.

Google is not the only search engine that exists, obviously. DuckDuckGo, WaterFox, and Bing are getting more popular. Ideally, try more than one because each search engine will provide different information, as their search algorithms aren't the same.

A Mozilla extension called Who Is This Person can give you access to a number of search engines at the same time. To perform this search, highlight your subject's name on a website.


Social networks

Other typical places to start include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If your subject has a profile on LinkedIn, it won't be hard to find. Knowing their job or what city they live in could be enough to pull up a LinkedIn profile. Most profiles have the year the person graduated from college and their degree. The graduation year can offer a rough estimate of their age so you can judge if you got the right person.

If you met the person at school or at work, check the official websites for additional information. The organization's site might mention them as a previous or a current staff member.

You can check every social medium for someone's profile simultaneously through Wink, but not if all you have is their name. You need to add a city or state, hobbies or interests, or a username.


Use a people finder

Modern records can let you find anyone as long as you search correctly. Don't hesitate to run a free people search. You don't need much information – an old address, a former workplace, a school they went to, or a variation on their name will suffice.


US Copyright Office

Check copyright records if your subject was a creative type. The US Copyright Office will contain a reference to their work if they have a copyright. These records can be searched for names of businesses as well.


USA.gov

USA.gov

Usa.gov is a data platform that contains state and federal records. It is free to search and can be helpful if you have enough time. Many background check sites source information from this database and then charge clients fees for it.


Patents

If the person is a scientist, academic, or inventor and might have a patent in their name, this information will be available online. You can search the US Patent and Trademark Office's records by design, name, industry, or keyword.


TinEye

TinEye will allow you to perform an image search. It works like Google Images, scouring the web for pictures of the person. The recognition technology behind this image search platform will help identify a picture, even if just a part of it matches the original.


Public records

Divorce, marriage, and birth certificates can be helpful, but you could be misled by inaccurate information. Public records are not updated in real-time. Check for entries linked to the person's name within land use documents and company registers.

There is data on veterans within the National Archives. Their service records include photos, documents, and other data as long as it is from after WWI.

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