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Posts Tagged ‘online people search engines’

How to Find Someone: Free Online Research Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on May 7, 2011

Updated April 4, 2012

There are various free online resources that specialize in people searches. Some resources offer comprehensive searches in dozens of online sources, including blogs, news archives, personal profiles, photographs, videos and publications. Other resources offer deep web searches, which means their web crawlers find indexes and links to databases that more traditional web crawlers miss. There are also business databases and search engines that offer business information associated to a person’s name.

Research the name using This online people search engine lets you search globally as well as country-specific (currently, its services include 12 counties and 10 languages). Some search results take you directly to a paid-for service (read the Pipl entry at the bottom of this page about paying for such services…in a word, don’t). But other results are free and potentially useful, such as Bing search results, blog links, website links, microblogs, tag links and more.

Look up the name in This people search engine looks up the name worldwide, and provides links to online sources that include that name, such as business or network profiles, education, interests, personal websites and obituary listings. The “Advanced Search” option lets you fine tune your search via keywords, name, location and company.

Conduct a deep-web name search by adding the words “database” or “search” (without the quotation marks) to your browser query. According to Marcus P. Zillman, executive director of the Virtual Private Library, in 2006, the deep web consisted of 900 billion pages of information that more traditional search engines either could not find or had difficulty accessing.

Use a social media search engine. According to, there are currently almost 4.5 billion active social networking and other online accounts. Therefore, it’s beneficial to conduct a name search in a social media search engine, such as Socialmention, that concurrently checks dozens of social networking sites.

Check out Biznar. This was previously advertised as a deep web business search engine; however, it now appears to be a more general, yet comprehensive, deep web people search engine. One thing we like about it is the immediacy of the results. Awesome advanced search options, too — you can select search categories such as blogs and social networks, advertising and marketing, finance and economics, government and more.

Search for a name in a business database. Linkedin lists more than 100 million professionals and their contact information.

Searches that were omitted from this list since it was first published:

Pipl. Once upon a time, this people search engine researched the deep web, with results including such online sources as public records, personal profiles, professional and business sites, publications, news articles, blog posts and more. We once found someone who’d seemingly fallen off the earth through a Pipl search.

Unfortunately, Pipl isn’t what it used to be. It still claims to “dive into the deep web” but our recent searches show it pulls up a lot of  links to “sponsored” paid-for search engines, such as, where — if you want more data on the person — you must pay $$. The problem with online people search services is that there’s no guarantee how relevant or current the information is, and there’s no live source to interpret the results. If you’re tempted to pay money to one of these online services, you’re better off hiring a professional private investigator.

Surchur. This used to be a real-time social media search engine, but now it’s an aggregate of articles about celebrities, including a disparate listing of items for sale whose only unifying thread is the word “celebrity.” Odd. We’re sorry Surchur bit the search dust.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in Be Your Own Investigator, Do-It-Yourself Private Investigation Articles, PI Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Find Someone: Free Online Research Tips

Diving Into the Deep Web: Resources, Databases, and People Searches

Posted by Writing PIs on February 22, 2011

This article is now available in How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Posted in Diving Into the Deep Web | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Four Free Tips to Find a Long-Lost Friend

Posted by Writing PIs on December 4, 2010

Just last week, a fellow private eye was prepping his family’s Thanksgiving turkey when he spied an article in the local paper about a woman wanting to find a long-lost relative so she could pass on the family Bible.  He used a proprietary database that many private investigators use to locate people, and within minutes had found several people who might be that woman’s relative–turned out one of them was the right person and on Thanksgiving, a very grateful woman found the long-lost heir to their family Bible.

Although most people don’t have access to such proprietary databases–which are fee-based, and available only to professional PIs and other professions such as law enforcement, law firms, collection agencies–there are several free resources people can use to search for a long-lost friend, high school sweetheart, neighbor, or other acquaintance.  Let’s look at 4 of these free resources:

Free Tip #1: Look up the person’s name in Google.  At our investigations agency, Google is the first place we’ll run a name (phone number, address, or other identifying information) because it’s still the most comprehensive, public, and free search engine available. Let’s say you’re looking for Billy Jones, and the two of you went to high school in SmallTown Nebraska.  In the Google browser, type “Billy Jones SmallTown Nebraska” (without the quotation marks), press the Google Search button, then review the results.  All instances that Google finds of Billy Jones in that town/state will display as links to websites, blogs, social networking engines, online documents (such as resumes), and much more.  Click on a link and search that online site/document for additional contact information for Billy Jones–this will require some patience and sleuthing on your part as you’ll be reading through information and picking out relevant bits to aid your search (for example, you might see Billy Jones’s name in a roster for an upcoming high school reunion, or a reference to a relative of Billy Jones still living in SmallTown). Use those bits of information to continue your search (for example, contact the high school reunion committee and request they send a message from you to Billy Jones, or call directory assistance for SmallTown Nebraska and ask for Billy Jones’s relative’s phone number).  You might also get lucky and find a website for Billy Jones with an email address that you can use to write him directly.

Note: If you’re looking for a woman’s name, keep in mind her surname may have changed due to marriage.

Free Tip #2: Conduct a deep web name search using Pipl. Some statistics claim the deep web (also called the invisible web) is 500 times more comprehensive than the surface web because its web crawlers find information traditional web crawlers can’t.  One useful free deep web search engine is Pipl, which searches websites, social networking sites, online profiles, online news articles, and much more. Go to, enter the person’s first and last names, and a known city and state.  As in the above Google search, click on links in the results, and look for any relevant information that can help you find more contact information for the person.

Note: The results in Pipl are littered with pay-for research sites (usually highlighted in yellow).  Skip these and search the other, free links.

Free Tip #3: Check the name in Kgbpeople.  This search engine breaks down results in 4 categories: social networks, search engines, photo/video/audio, and personal.  As in the above searches, click on a link and review its contents for any relevant information that might lead you to contact information for that name.  You can also filter your search with keywords, or click on one of the tags associated with that name.

Free Tip #4: Check a local criss-cross directory. Did the person live in your city or neighboring region?  One free, and very handy resource is your local library.  Often, they maintain criss-cross directories (also called reverse directories) that go back a decade or more, and in which you can search by surname and other identifiers (such as occupation, former phone number, street address).  It’s possible a criss-cross directory reveals Billy Jones still lives in the region.  Or you might find a relative’s or former employer’s name who can provide you with current contact information for Billy.  Ask your reference librarian to show you where they keep their criss-cross directories.

Not a free resource, but the best way to locate a person if other attempts fail: Hire a professional private investigator.  At our agency, we’re often tasked with locating people not only in our region, but throughout the United States as well.  For our services, contact us at Highlands Investigations 303-500-9604 (

To find a professional private investigator in your state, contact your state professional private investigator association (for a listing of all state PI associations, go to (under “PI Links” in the top blue bar, select “State Associations – USA”).

Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who’s Calling Me? Or How to Find the Name Behind an Unknown Number

Posted by Writing PIs on November 19, 2010

Article now available in How Do Private Eyes Do That? available on Kindle and Nook.


Posted in Finding Names Behind Phone Numbers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Who’s Calling Me? Or How to Find the Name Behind an Unknown Number

Tips for Hiding Your Home Address From Online Searches

Posted by Writing PIs on May 25, 2010

There are different ways you can protect your home address (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Updated 1-14-2012

The Internet offers a wealth of information to anyone–just make sure your personal information, such as your home address, isn’t part of it.  By being security-minded, you can prevent your home address from finding its way into public databases and other places where it can be easily retrieved through an online search.  Here’s a few tips:

Don’t give out your home address.  Make it a habit to not give this out, except to known friends and family members. Don’t write it down in forms, enter it in any online documents or registration/subscription services, and so on.  If you must provide an address, give your work address. Better yet, get a personal mailbox address, such as from MAIL BOXES ETC., and use that instead.

Note: A plus to using a personal mailbox service (versus a mail box from USPS) is that most personal mail box services offer real street addresses (which various registration and service forms require) and personal mailbox stores accept courier mail deliveries.

Remove your address from your website, social networking sites, craigslist ads, and so forth.

  • For free, you can do a cursory check of other online sites where your home address displays online by entering your address in your Internet browser.  In the results, if you see your address displayed on a website, blog, other online site, contact the site owner/website administrator, and request them to remove your address.
  • For a fee, you can subscribe to a service such as Reputation where you can do such tasks (depending on the product you choose) such as fix your Google results, remove online personal data and stop sites from tracking you.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in Hiding Your Personal Information From Internet Searches | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Tips for Hiding Your Home Address From Online Searches

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