Whether you are trying to make contact with long-lost classmates for an upcoming class reunion or trying to find someone who owes you money, a search does not have to cost a fortune. Private investigators and websites that charge fees to help you locate people can be expensive, but there are eight steps you can take on your own to conduct a free people search.
Step 1: Local telephone directories
If you know the city or community in which the person last resided, check the local telephone directory for a listing. Public libraries have reverse phone directories you can use if you have a telephone number. These directories allow you to find an address by searching the telephone number.
Step 2: Contact people who might know the person
Friends, relatives and former co-workers might have information about where you can find the subject of your free people search, so contact them to find out what they know about the person. If you have a last known address or place of business for the individual, talk to neighbors or people in nearby places of business who might know something about the person you are trying to find.
Step 3: Check court records
Courts can be great source for information about a person. Except for certain types of cases, such as divorces and child custody, most court records are available for viewing by the public. Court files will always contain addresses for the parties, so you can check this information against the addresses you already have for the individual you are trying to locate.
Step 4: Death records
States maintain data bases of individuals who have died. You can also access the Social Security Death Index through many free people search websites. The index gives you the date and place of death of the person whose name search.
Step 5: Local sheriff's offices
If you have a last known address for the person, the sheriff's office in that county probably has a searchable websites you can use to find out if the person is in jail. State department of corrections websites can be searched to find out if the person is an inmate in a state prison. There is also a federal database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Prisons that allows you to conduct a free people search to determine if the person is an inmate.
Step 6: County real property records
Each county has an office, usually called the county clerk, where you can search to determine if someone owns real estate in the area. The tax assessor's office can also provide information about property the person might own and on which he or she is paying real property taxes. Property tax records might have a mailing address if the individual paying the taxes is not residing at the property.
Step 7: Forwarding address information
Process servers, attorneys and other people attempting to serve legal papers can request post office box and forwarding address information from the United States Postal Service. There are restrictions, so you should check with the postal service about the most current regulations before making this a part of your free people search.
Step 8: Don't get discouraged
Conducting a free people search is possible as long as you follow these steps and keep accurate records of the information you obtain. The key to success is to not get discouraged.
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