How to Find Out About Someone Using Online Research

  • There are many reasons why somebody might want to research a person to find out their personal information. Perhaps you are looking for somebody you knew previously, you are entering into a new relationship, or you have an uneasy feeling about someone and want - or need - to know more.

    Whatever the reason, we are fortunate that in the United States we have the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA provides that anyone can request to see federal agency records or information. This means that you can access government public records and find plenty of information online, without even having to leave the comfort of your own home or pay a cent.

    Websites can help you to search these records and find the information you want, including criminal records, bankruptcy records, or the name and address of a person who has called you.

    Let’s take a look at exactly what you can see online if you want to find out more information about somebody.

    Start With Google

    If the person you are researching has ever had anything published online, you might be able to find out more about them simply by Googling them. You might be able to find a profile, discover other names which they use, or find their social media accounts.

    More than just Googling their name, try entering their phone number into the search bar. Try different formats, such as typing the number with and without dashes, parentheses and spaces, as Google searches use numerous indexes and databases and you could limit your search by not trying different things.

    You can also try adding the word ‘phonebook,’ or the name, state, or name and area code to help refine the search.

    Social Media

    Speaking of social media, these profiles can provide a wealth of information. Sites like LinkedIn will show a person's work and educational history. There are also the many image sharing apps like Instagram and Pinterest that often show who the person is close to, the places they go and things they do.

    When it comes to social media, it is probably best to start with Facebook. Data from 2016 shows that 78 percent of Americans had a social network profile with Facebook being the largest social media site in the world.

    Now, there are much more sophisticated ways to search for someone rather than randomly searching a name in Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, or any of the other social media sites. There are sites that will search multiple social networking sites for you, as well as blogs, websites and even Amazon wish lists to find people. Sites such as Spokeo, Peekyou, or Pipl can find things that web search engines do not necessarily see.

    Access Government Public Records

    To find out the nitty gritty about someone, you might need to access those government public records we told you about. Obtaining someone’s public record is perfectly legal. Most of these records are public domain and include births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Criminal records are also part of government records and summaries of court proceeding are usually available when the case is closed.

    Other types of government public information include:

    • Civil records
    • Military service information
    • Liens and financial information
    • Driving abstracts
    • Driver’s history, traffic citations and DUIs

    To access a public record, you will need to contact the government agency that has a copy of that record. For a criminal conviction, you will need to get in touch with the courthouse in the relevant county so you will need to know where the person you are researching is (or was) living.

    Check for Warrants

    You can also determine if someone has an outstanding arrest warrant or criminal record by conducting an online search. This is much easier than getting in touch with the local courthouse, or multiple courthouses across counties or states, and cheaper than hiring an attorney.

    To do this, you can use an online warrant search tool for free. The search will turn up warrants, arrests, felonies, misdemeanors, sentencing records, citations and more. All you need is a name and another piece of information; this can be date of birth, address, or information about a previous criminal record.

    Reverse Phone Lookup

    This is a method for finding out information about the owner of a phone number, whether that number is a land-line or a mobile phone. You will probably need to pay for a mobile phone number lookup as they are more difficult to find and gather information on.

    There are many reverse phone search sites like SearchQuarry.com, SpyDialer.com, TrueCaller.com, Whitepages.com, and ThatsThem.com, that can find a name and often an address from a number. Many of the sites work by purchasing data from a variety of databases and compiling it using their own tools; it is advisable to use more than one to confirm that the information is correct.

    Conduct an Ancestry Search

    If you want to find out about someone that is deceased, you can use genealogy websites. You will find that access to records are free on many Family Search websites. This means you can search historical records and uncover vital information such as birth date, marriages, residences, and death records anywhere in the world.

    There are so many resources that can help you search the government’s public records. You can also search by license plate or VIN number to find information regarding a vehicle. There are numerous types of public record resources online with more providers today than ever before. All you have to do is go online next time you want to find out about someone and start your research!