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How to Find a Missing Person

Updated on July 11, 2014

I used to work in the death department for the State of Oregon locating missing beneficiaries. Needless to say it was a very rewarding job. After all, who doesn't want to get a phone call from someone who has money to endow? When I started the job I had a huge stack of missing beneficiaries. I had to go through each one and find the missing beneficiary in order to deplete the stack. In the process of doing just that I learned a few things about finding people. Now these people were not purposefully hiding from me. If they were it would have been even more difficult.


The very first thing I did was to look for people with unusual last names. A person with the last name of Smith might as well have kissed that money goodbye! Smith, Jones, White or Black, anyone with a common name like that was like chasing a shadow on a rainy day! I didn't even try until I went through the unusual names first. But, a person with an unusual name was easy as pie. All I had to do is get the phone book and start down the list. Inevitably, someone knew the person I was looking for, either a cousin, uncle, aunt or whatever...and when I explained that I was GIVING that person money they were most helpful. So my first bit of advice is if the person you are looking for has an unusual name by all means start with the phone book and start dialing. Even if you aren't giving the person money you'll be able to locate a relative at the least and if you are smooth you might even find your man (or woman)!


The only information I had was the name of the deceased, the name of the beneficiary and the birth place of the deceased. So my next stop was the phone book in the town where the deceased has been born. If the phone book did not give me any help I called the city hall. Nine times out of ten someone at that city hall knew the deceased and assisted me in finding the beneficiary. Think about it, where were you born? Are there relatives and friends of yours still there? Most people still have friends and family in their birthplace so it's always a good place to check when you are trying to find a missing person.



Should you have additional information about the missing person by all means use it. The people I searched for I didn't know, so I was definitely at a disadvantage. It is a lot easier if you know who you are looking for. If I was looking for someone that I knew today the very first place I would start searching would be all the social media sites. Start with Facebook, MySpace and even post an ad looking for so and so in the town you think they might be in on Craigslist in the missed connections section.


If the person you are looking for was in the military you are in luck! There are several websites that will help you to locate someone who was or still is in the military, here are a few:


http://www.gisearch.com/

http://www.military.com

http://www.militaryconnections.com/



If you know the missing person's phone number you can try to find them by using a reverse phone directory, you can also do this with a mobile phone number. Just google reverse phone directory or reverse mobile phone directory. This may cost you some money but depending on how bad you want to find the person it might be worth it. If you know the last place that they lived you can also look in the phone book for neighbors that might know where they went.


When you have you done everything you can think of and have exhausted all measures to locate the person, there is one last thing you can do (private investigators do this), that is to follow the habits of the person you are searching for. If the person gambles, check out the casinos or horse-tracks, if the person you are seeking likes to drink, they might be hanging out at a favorite bar. Make the rounds with a recent photo and see what you can see. If they have a medical problem check out doctors that treat those ailments. This might be tricky because of doctor/patient confidentiality, however if the ailment is unique enough it might just pay off to spend some time in the waiting rooms. The more unusual the habit the easier it is to find someone. I heard of a man that was found because he liked to fish. He applied for a fishing license in a small town. The place that held the licenses had his address and the person looking for him was able to go directly to his place of residence with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin (if you know what I mean :).


Last but not least I wouldn't rule out a good private detective. They have contacts that you don't and usually years and years of experience. Although a private detective may set you back a pretty penny, if they find the person you are looking for wouldn't it be worth it?.

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    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      You're welcome, I hope it is helpful.

    • profile image

      Lost Heirs 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the information

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      I'm glad, thanks for becoming a fan!

    • Traveler29 profile image

      Joshua Hartzell 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      Excellent article. I enjoyed it and found it useful for my own work.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thank You for commenting.

    • StephenSMcmillan profile image

      StephenSMcmillan 

      7 years ago

      Thanks you for information this hub. Great.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Good question...hmmm let me think. I would say if you follow my advice in How to Disappear, you won't be found by anyone other than the guys who run the government and have all kinds of resources that the normal guy doesn't have. Remember the movie Enemy of the State with Will Smith, it would take that kind of technology to find someone if they follow my advice. In the article How to find a Missing Person I am assuming that the missing person is not trying to stay missing.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • rcjervis profile image

      rcjervis 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      If someone uses the tips in "how to dissapear..." and someone tries to find that person using the "how to find a missing person"...who wins?

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      I guess some things are to be assumed.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      7 years ago

      Blessings to you this morning Brie!

      You forgot to mention Google! Finding just about anyone has become so much easier with the Internet!

      Have a GREAT day! EarthAngel!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      I don't have it any longer, but I've had lots of interesting jobs in my lifetime. Thanks for commenting.

    • jacobkuttyta profile image

      Siny J 

      7 years ago from Delhi, India

      Very interesting information. You have a rewarding job.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      7 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks Nan.

    • profile image

      Nan Mynatt 

      7 years ago

      Good hub as usual, and helpful. Thanks.

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