Advances in technology have made it possible to find people quickly using the internet. Public records and social media sites have a wealth of information on people all around the world.
Even if you only know somebody’s name, you can still find their contact information, including their address, phone number, and social media handles. There are many sites that allow you to search public records and find vital information about almost anyone.
Today, I’m going to show you the best ways to find a person by name. I’ll explore various sites you can use, including free ones, and even touch upon some offline methods you can use if you can’t find any information about that person on the internet.
The four main methods I’m going to explore include:
- Social media sites
- Public record search sites
- Missed Connections ads
- Offline methods
Let’s get into it!
Regardless of where the person lives, they likely have a social media account. At least 82 percent of Americans have a profile on at least one social media networking site.
Use the following sites in your search.
The first social media site I want you to use is Facebook. There are three reasons for this:
- First, Facebook requires you to use your real name, unlike networks like Instagram and Twitter. Therefore, finding someone by name is usually easier.
- In addition, over 70 percent of Americans have a Facebook account.
- Finally, Facebook has search filters that make it easy to narrow your search and find specific people.
To find someone on Facebook, simply enter their full name into the search bar at the top of the screen. Then, click on “People,” so only personal profiles show up.
If the person you’re searching for has a common name, it’s going to take more time to sift through all the profiles. Therefore, try to think of any other information you might know about them.
Once you click on the People tab of the search results, you will be able to filter by:
If it’s someone from your city, enter your city. If it’s someone who attended school with you, enter the school you both attended.
Note that not everyone includes their city, school, or work information in their profiles.
Pro tip: Try to think of name variations your friend might be using. For example, if you’re looking for someone named Robert Matthews, try searching for Bob Matthews as well, as your friend might be using their nickname in their profile.
When you see someone who you think might be your guy, click on their profile and browse through their available public information, such as their profile picture. You can then send them a friend request or message them via Facebook Messenger.
LinkedIn also requires users to use their real names, but fewer Americans have LinkedIn accounts. It’s mostly used by professionals.
However, there’s still a decent chance of finding the person on LinkedIn. After all, there are approximately 169 million LinkedIn users in the United States, which means more than half of all Americans have an account (based on a population size of 330 million).
Enter the person’s full name and click on “People.” Then, use filters if possible, or search through all the profile results that come up.
Instagram doesn’t require you to use your real name, but many people enter their full names anyway when signing up. Also, many people link their Instagram accounts to their Facebook accounts, so if they use their real name on Facebook, it will show up on Instagram as well.
On Instagram, you can enter someone’s full name, or you can try to think of different usernames they may be using. For example, for Bob Matthews, you can search for:
Of course, there are endless username possibilities, so don’t stress it too much. Try out a few usernames and then move on to other methods.
Twitter is another social media network you might try. You can also use Telegram to perform a username search (write the person’s full name in the search bar, without any spaces).
TikTok might be worth a go, and if the person you’re looking for is a Russian speaker, you should also try Vkontakte.
There are many public record search sites that let you sift through public records. Some are free, while others cost money.
I’m going to first go through the free sites, then move on to the paid ones.
First, try Google.
Google may bring up results from various third-party public record search sites, news sites, blogs, social media sites, and more, giving you the best chance of quickly finding the individual you’re searching for.
Use quotations to narrow down your search. If you have any other details about the person, such as their city, add that after the quotations.
For example, you might search for “Robert Matthews” + Portland. You can also try the same search on Yahoo and Bing.
SearchPeopleFree.com is a site I recommend, especially if the only information you have about the person is their name. I like it because the free version gives you complete phone numbers.
While it helps if you can enter their city, it’s not required. When you enter “Robert Matthews,” for example, the software will bring up anyone with that name who lives anywhere in the United States
You’ll see some of the following information alongside the results:
- Associated addresses
- Phone numbers
- Names of family members
- Associates, roommates, etc.
As you scroll through the results, you may suddenly remember additional identifying information, such as a brother you forgot they had.
Click on any result to see additional information, such as the person’s current and previous addresses, mobile and landline numbers, and more.
You can upgrade to see the full report, which includes full email addresses, social media handles, criminal records, business records, marriage and divorce records, and more.
Anywho is another free website you can use to search for anyone online, using just a name. If you don’t know the city and state the person is living in, make sure “All States” is selected when doing your search.
You’ll see a list of results, including information such as each person’s address and age. Click on “View Profile” to see the full report.
For a full report, you’ll need to upgrade. However, the free version gives you full physical addresses, which you can then use to find their phone number using online phone books.
BeenVerified is one of the largest background check and public record search companies online. It’s an extremely popular search site, and everyone from private investigators to employers use it, as do people verifying buyers or sellers from Craigslist.
The company also runs a reverse phone lookup site and a sex offender tracking app.
To start your search, go to BeenVerified and enter the first and last name of the person you’re searching for. On the next pages, you’ll be prompted to enter their city, state, age, and middle name, but you can click on “I’m Not Sure” if you don’t have that information readily available.
Then, select which information you want the report to include:
- Contact info
- Criminal records
- Social media
- B2B contacts
- Car ownership
- Personal details
BeenVerified will then take up to a few minutes to generate your report.
Before you can see your report, though, you’ll have to sign up for a subscription. Unfortunately, BeenVerified doesn’t offer any data for free.
Another reliable website to use is TruthFinder. Start by entering a first and last name – there’s no need to enter a city and state, but you should if you can.
The website will then ask you the person’s gender, age, middle initial, and city, but you can skip those steps if you don’t know. If you know at least one city the person has lived in, though, enter that when it asks you to name past or present cities.
The free results only include basic information, such as the person’s general location, possible relatives, and age. Since it doesn’t include contact details or at least an address, I’m not counting it as a free site.
If you at least had an address, you’d be able to use a phone book to find that person’s phone number, or you’d be able to write them a letter.
One downside of TruthFinder is that it asks you a lot of questions, such as if the person in question has a criminal record. All those questions take time and are pretty annoying.
Spokeo is a people search and reverse phone number lookup site. Start by visiting the website and entering a name.
The tool will take a few minutes to go through public records and other data. Have patience; it takes some time to sift through the data.
You’ll then see a list of people. I like how Spokeo breaks down the results by state and shows you exactly how many results it has found for each state.
You can also filter by:
- Phone number
- And more
The initial results will only give you basic data, such as the person’s aliases, possible relatives, and cities they’ve lived in.
Click on any search result to see more detailed information. I liked how quick Spokeo was, especially compared to TruthFinder and other sites, but most of the personal information will be blurred out until you pay.
However, you will at least get a preview of what’s to come, including partial email addresses, partial physical addresses, partial phone numbers, and the number of contacts, locations, and family members the tool has found.
The good news about Spokeo is that you can often access a single report for just one to two dollars.
See here for more information about pricing.
Social Catfish is a people search website designed for dating investigations. It allows you to find someone’s true identity, even if you have only been talking to them on a dating site like eHarmony.
You can get started with just a name, although if you can narrow down the results by country, state, city, or age, that’s even better.
The initial results will only show you the person’s known locations – cities they have lived in.
The full report, though, includes information such as the person’s:
- Past relationships
- Forgotten social media profiles
- Dating profiles
- Chat groups
- Leaked videos
- Contact details
- And a lot more
You’ll need to pay to unlock the full report, though you may be able to pay a low price for a trial period of a few days.
Social Catfish has other useful tools. You can use someone’s phone number to find out their real name, or you can upload images to run a reverse image search and ensure someone isn’t catfishing you with fake pictures they stole from the internet.
Designed for businesses, Pipl Search is an advanced tool that allows you to discover someone’s full online identity within minutes. All you need is a name, username, or other basic information.
While businesses often use Pipl to verify the identities of customers and for fraud prevention, you can also use it to find out more about a person you’re interested in.
Missed Connections classifieds are advertisements looking for people you met but didn’t get the contact details of.
They’re extremely useful for when you only get a person’s name but nothing else.
For example, let’s say you met someone on the L train of the New York City Subway at 5 PM on Tuesday. You exchanged some words and learned their name, but they had to rush to catch a connecting train before you could manage to get their contact information.
You can then post a Missed Connections ad, spelling out their name and the details of your encounter. Offer your contact details; if they see the ad, they may reach out to you.
You can also use Missed Connections ads to connect with old friends, classmates, and coworkers who you used to be close to. As time goes on and people change addresses and phone numbers, it’s easy to lose touch with people, but Missed Connections ads can help you find them.
Even if your old classmate doesn’t see the ad, someone else who attended your class and has their updated contact details may reach out to you.
When posting a Missed Connections ad, include as many details as possible about yourself and the person you are looking for, including how you met, where you met, how they looked, how you looked, and so on.
One of the cool things about Missed Connections ads is that you don’t even need to know the person’s name to find them. As long as you add some details about your encounter, such as words you exchanged or what you were wearing, you have a chance of finding them.
You can post Missed Connections ads in Craigslist’s Missed Connections section. Additionally, check if your local newspaper has a Missed Connections or “Lost and Found for People” section.
Missed Connections ads are almost as old as the printing press. The first known advert was posted in the early 1700s as a “Once Seen” ad – before the internet, it was a common way to find people.
There are two main ways to find someone by name without using the internet. One is free but limited; the other is usually pretty expensive.
If you are certain that the person you are looking for lives in your city, you can do it the old-fashioned way: Simply take out a phone book and look the person up by name.
Phone books will show you the person’s address and phone number. Names are listed in alphabetical order.
If there are multiple people with the same name, you’ll just have to do what people used to do before the internet came around: Call each number on the list until you find the right person.
If the phone book doesn’t prove useful, you can always hire a private investigator, but it’s going to cost you.
Private investigators are also best for finding people who don’t want to be found. Such people will delete their social media accounts or make them private; they may also change their numbers or use unregistered ones.
Private investigators usually have access to resources that the average person doesn’t have. They may start with checking government databases, running background checks, searching through warrants and land records, and more.
Court records, vehicle registration records, marriage records, and law enforcement databases can all reveal a lot of information about a person.
If they can’t find information that way, they may use advanced facial recognition software to find that person online. Or, they may do extensive searching of relatives and old acquaintances until they finally track down the person you’re seeking.
Hopefully, you now know how to search for someone using just their name. I suggest starting with Facebook, as it’s free, and you probably already have an account.
If you still can’t find them, use a free people finder tool like Search People Free. Finally, if that doesn’t work, try a premium people finder search tool like BeenVerified or hire a private investigator.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.