People Searches on the Web

Search Engines & Social Media

You can begin to search for a person using a popular search engine, such as Google or Bing, or a social media site such as Facebook or LinkedIn.  In fact, you probably have used these sites from time to time to locate a friend or relative's address.  Search engines have the advantage of being free and familiar and provide instant results, but if typing a name into a search engine to locate an individual doesn't give you usable results you can increase both the accuracy and currency of your search if you use a site designed for people searches.  

Quick Tip

To increase accuracy when using the search engines, use the search engine's advanced features, put the name in quotes and add additional search terms such as the name of the city or state where you believe the individual resides.

Which people finding sites should you use?

There are dozens of people finding sites available on the Web today.  In fact, there are so many sites offering to locate information on an individual that it may be difficult to weed through them to find the service best suited to your needs or your budget.  Another issue with these sites is that although many of these people finding sites offer an initial search on an individual for free, they only provide full results when the user purchases their report or signs up for a subscription to their services.  

Fortunately, there are still a few good free resources available for your purposes.  Two such online resources are:

Pipl - This site allows for free searching on individuals, but you can upgrade for a fee for their premium service.  This is a great site for initial searches, to look up old friends or lost relatives, and for lawyers, a site to locate current information on individuals who may be involved in a pending investigation.  

Spokeo - Spokeo is a people search engine that advertises that it allows you to search safely for people.  Spokeo collects information from white page listings, social media and public records.

Telephone Directories

For a telephone directory search you can try: or Zabasearch or   Besides addresses and telephone numbers, these sites offer a feature called reverse phone lookup to locate individuals by phone number.  If a phone number is all you have on an individual, reverse phone lookup is handy tool.

Public Records Portals

When you are looking for information on an individual and you need more than a telephone number or an address, a good place to begin is by searching a public records portal.  Public record information includes property records, military records, corporate filings, criminal records, and professional licenses, all useful information when you are doing investigative research on an individual.  Here are two useful public record portals:

BlackbookOnline - From this portal you can use this portal's people search link, the company also provides links to their how-to videos on YouTube along with tips to improve your search.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the list of links to public record and people finding resources.

BRBPUB - This portal provides public record information under the section for free records search.  There is a premium service you can sign up for as well. 

Submitted by Jenny Zook, Reference Librarian on January 29, 2016

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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