How Do I Find a Long Lost Friend?
Back in the day, reconnecting with a long-lost friend typically meant tracking them down with the help of a paid professional. There was no such thing as an “online presence,” and if someone changed their name or moved away there was very little you could do on your own to find them. Armed with just their former name and a phone number they no longer use, you were out of luck.
Thanks to the internet, all that has changed. Rare is the person who doesn’t have a social media account in 2017, and whose personal information isn’t accessed to some extent with nothing more than a simple Google search. It’s harder than ever for somebody to vanish or “go off the grid” and virtually every person you know has left some sort of digital footprint.
Step One: Start with a Name
First off, start simple. Go to Google and search your old friend’s name with the name in quotation marks. If you know their middle name or if they have remarried and changed their name, make sure to incorporate that information into the search.
If you come up empty, try to work in whatever other details that you know. Do an advanced search that combines the name in quotation marks with the city or state they lived in, or their home address if you know it. Try to add their university or their old phone number or perhaps even a place they worked.
If your friend changed their name, there’s a possibility they want come up in a search – but don’t’ lose hope! You still have plenty of options.
Step Two: Start With the Names of Relatives
If you still don’t have any luck, cast a wider net. You can search their siblings – assuming they have any and you know their names – and then trace back from those results to find your friend. If you’re able to search and find the Facebook page of your friend’s sibling, and it’s an open page, you can search in their friends list or scroll through their photos until you find your friend.
It’s likely that your friend’s siblings or other relatives may have made their Facebook page private. You can either send a friend request and then communicate with the friend, or keep moving out in wider circles – cousins, parents, grandparents, anyone you know of by name who is related to your friend. Eventually you’ll make a hit and then reach out and send a friend request. If they approve it, you can communicate and take it from there.
Now, what happens if the relatives don’t know your friend’s whereabouts either? This is a possibility. It might make you uncomfortable, but try and see what information you can get out of the relatives. If you can find your friend’s last known address, place of work, married name or children’s names, then you’re in good shape. All of this information can be used to track down who you’re looking for.
Step Three: Follow Up on All Your Leads
There’s no point in having a lead if you’re not going to chase it down till it goes cold. Follow-up with relatives you contacted online. If you sent a friend request and didn’t get a reply, send a private message. Facebook charges a small fee to ensure that the message goes to the person’s inbox and not their “other” folder – where messages tend to go to die.
If there’s still no reply, find their phone numbers online and call, and follow-up with another call if you don’t have any luck. If you don’t have a social media account or phone number, you can use the traditional mail to get through. Typically a mailing address will be rather easy to find online for your friend’s parents or grandparents and an actual physical letter may be more likely to get a response than an email.
Step Four: Try a People Search Engine
You’re not the first person to go down this road by any means. These days there are search engines devoted solely to compiling open information and public records on specific people and then making them available online. The quality of these sites vary, and keep in mind that the information you find may be out of date. Still, it’s another option if you’re hitting dead ends. If you’re still not having any luck, you may want to call the professionals. This is when a professional online background check service should be able to help.
Background check services can provide you with access to criminal records, credit ratings, employment history, and financial records of whoever you’re looking up, which is probably far more than you’d be able to find just rooting around on Google.
Pay services spend thousands of man hours combing through public records in order to compile giant databases of records on individuals, which can then be accessed for a fee. These are records that are publicly available but most people don’t know how to access them, or getting a hold of them would require actually going in person and requesting a hard copy from a public office.
BeenVerified has more than a decade of experience in the background check industry, and can provide you with arrest records, bankruptcies, traffic tickets, and more. This background check service collects all of the different public records in a single report for easy viewing.
With Spokeo, you can get access to aggregated reports of data from both offline and online sources, including a person’s income, religion, spouse’s name, credit status, and even an overhead photo of their residence. According to the company they have access to more than 12 billion records, so chances are there is something about your friend available with Spokeo.
Instant Checkmate offers a fast and effective service that can give you criminal records, reverse phone and email searches, and also – and we hope you don’t need this for your friend – inmate search, which gives you access to information on any inmate in the federal penitentiary system.
Most of these companies also publish blogs and newsletters with helpful information about security, privacy, and finding people online.
Hopefully a criminal background check or a sex offender database search isn’t what you need to find your friend, but these tools are just two out of many that are available to background check companies and which you can access for a small fee.
These days, you don’t need a private investigator to find someone. If a simple online search doesn’t work, then a background check service is an easy and affordable option which should get you results in no time.