- Internet & the Web
Search for People
Evidently everyone is looking for someone else. We all seek to find each other. Internet people searching sites abound. Most of these sites are free to visit: your browser happily loads home pages promising information galore pertaining to humans about whom you might be interested. Promises are free, as any politician will confirm.
Why are we looking for each other? Did we get lost? Are we weary of our physical friends to the point that online people searches seem like a good idea? Perhaps a better man exists on the digital horizon, just a few clicks and a credit card number away. Possibly a few salient facts pertaining to felony arrests or previous addresses will help us decide who gets hired and who gets divorced. It's all fun and games until someone loses a reputation.
Numbers rarely lie
According to Google, which is hardly ever wrong, over 13 million searches monthly contain the phrase "how can I find someone." That someone is probably a specific sentient human rather than a non-specific person in the broad sense of the word. Most Internet searchers realize that riding a city bus or frequenting the drive-through at Starbucks afford the opportunity to meet people in general. Such activities are nearly free and may also result in delicious latte or a trip to the mall.
Herein we examine a random sampling of 'free' people search web sites providing utility to the general public. Reverse phone lookups, address searches, and even SSNs (Social Security Numbers) can be submitted to massive online databases. There's nowhere to hide these days.
Look no further for a site that accurately describes what's happening on the home page. PeopleFinders.com thoughtfully provides fields to manually enter name, physical address, email address, or Social Security Number. A reverse-telephone look-up is also available.
Is the site free? Entering the search data costs nothing. Clicking on the Search button carries no charge. Unfortunately, a schedule of fees presents when the Search button is clicked. For only $1.95, earnest searchers can learn the following information about their person of interest:
- Full name,
- Phone Number,
- Age & Date of Birth, and
- Up to 40-Year Address History.
For only $49.95, this information will be revealed:
- Full name,
- Phone Number,
- Age & DOB,
- Address History,
- Marriage / Divorce,
- Birth / Death,
- Sex Offender Check, and
- Criminal Check.
Have a little fun: search for John Smith in the entire United States. After a lengthy wait, the first 100 results are returned to your browser. How those 100 results were selected is not immediately obvious. For a mere $1.95 you can obtain a report on all 100 Mr Smiths. Our conclusion: change your name to John (or Jane) Smith if you'd like to disappear.
Promising "People Search. Honestly Free!" at the top of their home page, ZabaSearch provides fields to enter a full name or a telephone number. Results can be filtered by state: if your person of interest is lost at sea, you may be disappointed.
Does it work? It mostly works. Results include a Google map pointing to a residential address, a Born on Date, and voluminous links to alternative online people searching services offering to provide everything from blood type to marital status. ZabaSearch appears to operate as an aggregator of people-focused search engines. Our brief research indicates that about 100% of the aggregated information arrives from the Intellius.com database.
A subdomain represents a subdivision of a web site. Web engineers realize that subject matter should be segregated into a 'free-standing' web page while still remaining part of the whole. Yahoo, the erstwhile runner-up to Google, provides a subdomain dedicated to looking for lost people. Search by name/city/state or by phone number. Look up an email address according to a first/last name combination. No one can hide from Yahoo, it seems.
Yahoo leverages the mighty power of its' web site index to provide search results. Searching on a telephone number yields every hit containing that number. It's useful. It's free. A telephone number usually connects to a mailing address, for better or worse, ergo you can expect to find a sampling of results that include both. Even a cell phone number eventually ends up associated with a physical address when the universe of Yahoo indices is examined.
These folks mean business. They search billions of public records to ferret out public information that normal people might prefer to remain semi-private. A divorce, a parking ticket, an eviction, or a contribution to the Libertarian Party just might derail attempts to earn a promotion or appear as a guest host on The View.
It's not free: $4.95 affords you a veritable plethora of cool data including phone carrier and possible relatives. Living off the grid may no longer be feasible these days. Googling "Intellius.com review" returns a purported 4.3 million results (Google only lets you see the first 1000.) Evidently more than a few searchers took the 5 dollar plunge to get the dirt on their dates. Intelius publishes a mailing address (Bellevue, WA), a voice phone and a FAX phone on their web site. They hide from no one. They exist in the public forum, sponsoring numerous philanthropic endeavors in the Bellevue area. It's all revealed on their web site, for free.
Visit Spokeo.com for an innovative combination of Google Maps and drill-down functionality eventually leading to a monthly subscription offer. The map's cool, but not all that informative, given that names and addresses appear in text form at the left of the screen.
Click on enough links and a credit card request pops up. Monthly subscriptions cost as little as $2.95 for a one-year plan. Social network searching is included. If the object of your attention maintains a Facebook page, you'll know about it.
An offbeat set of icons tease offbeat data such as Gender, Politics, Religion, and College History. We assume that such info can be scraped from social networking sites. It's hardly public record.
Hide in plain sight
If the Internet hates you, perhaps a little reputation polishing is in order. If people searching for you stumble upon a veritable plethora of unpleasant unctuousness, look to an online service to clean up your digital act. It's your fault if you post photos of yourself at a Sarah Palin rally, but sometimes someone with a axe to grind will indeed take an undeserved pot shot at you or your business. It's your responsibility if you regularly contribute fan fiction to Star Trek sites, but no one deserves to lose a promotion because an anonymous blogger hates their guts.
Possibly, depend on Reputation.com to clean up your online persona. They claim to posses sufficient juice to reduce your negative presence in Google's top search results. Armies of lawyers generating storms of litigation threats comes to mind. It's the opposite of SEO. Should an unhappy customer or a frustrated bail-bondsman post unpleasant comments about the chickweed in your backyard, Reputation.com wants to help keep it off the front page.
Don't expect pricing schedules. A phone number is published, and you are encouraged to ring them up for a consultation. Should you be willing to offer up your name and email address, Reputation.com rewards you with a modicum of teaser information. We found most of it to be dramatically incorrect when we entered a legitimate name and email address. Of course, the site now has one more contact in their advertising database.