Finding information can be time consuming and exhausting. In this article I will look at ways to search and get the information you need. You may be looking for your high school friend, attempting to reconnect with family members, or trying to find out who banged into your car then left the scene. Whatever your reasons, a simple Google search will bombard you with companies saying they have the answer to all of your problems. Here are some tips to help you in your search.
Free Ways To Find People On Social Media
As a PI, a lot of my time is spent searching the main social media sites looking for people. Some people will post a variety of things on social media to include work location, photos/video of an evening out, and verbiage that gives clues to their location. The sites that are particularly helpful are the ones that allow longer posts. On Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, users can write as many words as they want on a single post. On Facebook and Instagram, rants sometimes give clues to where the person lives or who they are. The same goes for LinkedIn. Search the name of the person you are looking for on Facebook. Maybe their profile does not show up, but click over on marketplace. This will show if a user with that name has ever posted anything for sale. A person’s name may show up on other posts as well. Research where the name shows up. You may not get a profile, but you can connect them with other members and reach out to get a location.
A warning comes with LinkedIn and Instagram. If you look at a profile on LinkedIn, not in private mode, you will show up under the “Who viewed my profile” section. If you are attempting to be anonymous, mind your settings to avoid being seen. On Instagram, if you click on a video, the creator of the video sees viewers by name. So, be careful before getting click happy on Instagram if you wish to remain anonymous. The many social media platforms have their own little quirks and tricks to help you find someone. If your goal is to communicate with them, then you can start the conversation on the platform. If you are looking to find them for legal reasons, be careful. They might be able to see if you are watching.
Have you ever googled yourself? Searching for someone through this platform can reveal a lot of information. For instance, enter any name into the Google search bar and add “arrested” at the end. If the person has ever been arrested, then you may get a hit showing the town, date, and even a mugshot. Municipalities with a web-based inmate system will usually show on Google. You may not get the full details of the arrest, but at least you get a starting point to continue your search. If a person has ever participated in a charity event, local youth league, or other event, there is a possibility that this person will appear in your search. This will give you leads to pursue the location deeper. Google is the most robust search engine in the world. You can perform the same searches on Yahoo, Bing, Safari, or any of the other engines and get similar results. Remember, like them or not, Google will return the most relevant results. Some results may reveal information on the deep web. The deep web and dark web are totally different. The deep web requires you to create a login to get the data. Typically these are services provided by states and municipalities. (I will describe what the dark web is in a different post.)
As soon as you Google something or someone, you will be inundated with ads for Intelius, Been Verified, Truth Finder, and a variety of sites. I will call them click-bait sites. While these sites will give some basic information about the person you are looking for, the data is typically outdated and inaccurate. You will pay for these searches. They tend to entice you with a free cursory search then “gray out” key data you have to pay for. Once paid, they unlock some of the data and “gray out” some more data. Then you pay for that. See how this goes? They set you up with a series of click-bait style findings and cause you to spend a lot of money for outdated information. I cannot recommend any site that starts out as “free” then tricks you into paying significant amounts.
TLOxp – Transunion, Tracers, IRB
There are more than these three premium sites, but these are the ones I have experience with. You can search and see a lot of premium sites that provide detailed information about the person you are looking for. These are the services that press the accelerator of your search results. Everything is current, relevant, and consolidated into one place. TLOxp-Transunion (TLO) is the resource I use daily. It is a paid site and is exclusive to PIs, attorneys, police, and federal agencies. So yes, you will have to pay one of these professionals to get the information you need. Here is the kicker: the data on this site is real-time. Do you need a current address? This site will reveal it. Do you need to know who owns a phone number? You got it. Basically, if the person you are looking for has an account of any kind, they will hit on TLO. The difference between TLO and Skopenow (and similar sites), is that TLO gives information based on credit header data, utility bills, and cell phone bills. Skopenow and the other click-bait sites pay for data from the premium services. This delay in data retrieval is why the click-bait sites are out of date. Do you think the premium sites will allow the others to have their most current data? No, this is how they keep the premium price. TLO also allows me to run license plates instantly, and I can download a criminal history. If you think the click-bait sites are better, I will challenge you to a contest with data. Pros: Instant data including license plates, addresses, phone numbers, liens, bankruptcies, and criminal history
Con: High cost and must have a license to use
Tracers is a great database that I used during my first year of owning a PI firm. Tracers took a turn in 2020 and I am not sure what happened. Information became outdated and we started struggling to get what we needed. That’s when we switched to TLO.
Pros: Nationwide license plate data available along with the same information provided by TLO
Cons: Cost is high and data is becoming irrelevant
I tried IRB for 30 days and discovered that I could not run license plates in Alabama. Other than that, I am sure their information is okay. Other investigators and attorneys swear by IRB.
Pros: I am not sure – I did not test it out long enough
Cons: Cannot run license plates in all states
Finding information on a person can be easy using social media and search engines. Sometimes these do not provide any or little information. Some of the click-bait style sites may provide some information but it will probably be outdated. Using a database through an investigator or attorney will provide the most up-to-date information, but you will pay a premium for this. Whatever you are looking for, you may find that paying the premium to get information is worth it.