In the Beginning...
In my experience, http://classmates.com and/or http://reunion.com are the best places to start. If you are lucky, they will have entered a profile, which will help with the current
state they are living in, and often their married names. Heck, you can even find out their political preference, and what
kind of pets they have. If they are not listed there, try their high school's website, as often there is an alumni database
there as well.
If they attended
college, I search the university's alumni website. These databases will produce an address, phone number, degree information,
and often an email address. This is also an excellent resource for finding out married names. Now most online associations
require that you register before executing a search, which means you need to have attended or graduated from that university,
but you are lucky, you will find a few that allow anonymous inquiries.
Wisconsin Alumni Association
Florida Alumni Search
and any alumni database searching, I usually move on to http://knowx.com. Now I know you're saying, "Hey, that's a pay site", and you would be right. However, there are a few free searches
available there that can provide clues, including a people locator that offers a nationwide search of phone and real estate
records. Also, it includes free searches for marriage and divorce records (in Texas, Nevada, and Florida). Other
similar sites worth trying are http://ussearch.com and http://www.peoplefinders.com, which break down the results by city and age. All you need is a last name, and you will pull up all the records
available per state, which could also give you clues as to if they have a spouse. If you click on the name, it will also give
you past cities and states where there are addresses in it's database. To get detailed reports you have to pay, but I consider
it a challenge NOT to pay, so we will need to move on from there!
If these sources
have failed to provide any leads, there are the basic online white pages that you can try.
allows multi-state searches
has reverse look up and email searches
And most recently,
the controversial Zabasearch.com which is the most accurate address search on the web. It often has old addresses
as well, so it can be helpful in tracking down maiden names. Be advised: there is a link below the search box where anyone
can register their name and email, and are notified via email when others search perform a search on their
name. If you want to remain anonymous while searching this site, enter it through an anonymous proxy such as Guardster.com!
Next, the Search Engines...
Now hopefully you've gathered a few pieces
of information about that person, and now is the time to enlist http://google.com, http://yahoo.com, and http://lycos.com for more.
Start with their
name in quotes (i.e. "Billy Bob Poentang"), and then without (i.e. Billy Bob Poentang). This is the tedious part of the search, because unless you are fortunate enough
to be searching for someone with an unusual name, it will often take some time poking in and around various websites.
I've found this step usually takes several attempts over a period of time to produce any decent leads.
Another way to
get results is to do a search with just their last name followed by the @ sign in parenthesis (i.e. "Poentang@"). This is an excellent way to turn up a work email address (i.e. BPoentang@bigfancycompany.com). Then you can poke around in their employer's website (i.e. www.bigfancycompany.com) to find out what kind of company they work for, where they are located, and if you are lucky, a press
release detailing the accomplishments of the individual.
on their names (i.e. "William Robert Poentang", "Billy R Poentang","Bill
It also helps to a search with their last name followed by their surname (“Poentang,
-The last name
with the city and state (i.e. Poentang AND "Podunk Arkansas"). On Google, often this will produce an address and phone number as the first result.
-Last name with
a university or high school name (i.e. Poentang AND "Podunk University"). If they were involved in
any sports or clubs, that is another good search (i.e. Poentang AND "Sigma Epsilon Omega" or Poentang AND tennis).
any other names that came up in the knowx.com or ussearch.com that might be relevant. For example, if a search for Poentang, approximate age 50, turned up Billy
Bob and Myrna Lou, age 48, in Podunk, AR, then I'd be doing a
search on her as well.
-If you have
their address or phone number, do searches on them (i.e. "123 E Main" AND Podunk or "(301) 555-1234"). Why?
Well an address search might pull up a home for sale. Now you go to the realtor's website, and they will have a picture of
the house. A Phone number search could link to a classified ad or local community involvement like the PTA, or chairman of
the church bake sale.
On to the Real Estate Records...
By now, you should
have an address. You then need to check out their County Assessor's website. Most counties have online search capacities,
which allow you to search by address, and often just by the owner's last name, which is an added bonus if you are
having a hard time finding an address. The results provide property data such as square footage, purchase price, lot
size, pool, neighborhood maps, etc. A quick Google search generated these examples:
If the assessor's
website doesn't provide the home's purchase price, there are some good websites that might help.
AOL Home Price
Check (AOL users only)
Want to see an
aerial photo of their home?
shows an arial view of an address
And Google Earth
gets such a close picture you can often see items in people's yards
And just for
fun, get demographic information on zip codes
By now, you should
have quite a bit of information. If nothing has turned up so far, you might need to run a search on the Social Security Death
Index at http://ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.com/ to see if they are still living.
I also search
the archives of their local newspaper,
to see if they have made the news, or any public records turn up.
such as http://ancestory.com, or http://genealogy.com can be good sources of clues.
are a few sites for random searches.
(to search for or verify an active email address) http://addresses.com/.
at http://www.searchsystems.net/ is a very valuable resource. It Iists all searchable
public records databases available countrywide by state. Make sure you look under the city
and county links to find civil and criminal court sites, voter registrations, occupational licensing,
corporate registrations, and sex offenders.
Wonder what candidates
they support? FundRace.org at http://www.fundrace.org/neighbors.php lets you see if they donated money to a political campaign.
Want to find
out a birthday? Try searching http://anybirthday.com/search.htm.
Want to see their
Amazon wishlist? Go to http://www.amazon.com/, and click on the "Your Lists" links, and a drop-down menu will appear with
"wish lists." Just type in a name or email if you have it!