What Is a People Search?
Also referred to as a people finder, a people search engine allows users to find information about individuals on the internet. People search engines compile data from public (and sometimes private) sources. Then, the sites make that information available to anyone who uses the tool. The Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) dictates that all documents, forms, and records generated or maintained by government agencies be made accessible to the public. For example, some search engines provide people's phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses, while others offer background checks, marriage records, and other public records.
People-finder sites allow users to obtain information for free using advertisement revenue to offset costs, while other sites charge users to obtain detailed reports. Users can also search for their personal information and find out what public records of theirs exist online. Understanding that individuals may feel uncomfortable having all their information online, most people search sites have processes to allow subjects to withdraw their data and opt-out.
People search engines are typically accessed through third-party sources. Third-party people search websites are straightforward to use, and results are not geographically limited. However, third-party people search sites are not government-sponsored. Therefore, agencies cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.
What Can You Find With a People Search?
People search sites collate biodata and information from public records and private sources to make it available to users either for free or for a fee. As a result, users can get a wealth of information, including:
- Contact details: An individual can find another person's contact details on a people search engine. For example, the person might get an individual's phone number, email address, home or office address, or P.O. Box details.
- Location history: Some sites allow users to track subjects' location history over time. Users can find out where a person has lived in the past, the places they visit frequently, and where they currently stay.
- Criminal records: Many users that search for individuals using people search sites are trying to see if the subject has a criminal record. Some search engines obtain information from official arrest records, court records, and other law enforcement agencies and make that information available to search.
- A list of family members: People search sites help users find individuals' personal information, such as their connections to other people. A user can search for a person and find information about their parents, siblings, children, and other relatives.
- Social media profiles: While many people have public social media profiles, others like to keep their profiles private. People search sites collect information from social media and make that available to searchers.
- Assets: While some people like to keep knowledge about their assets private, they usually have to register ownership. Certain search engines collate asset ownership information and make it available.
- Marital history: A people search engine is an excellent place to search for an individual's marital history. These sites collate marriage information from public vital records and make them available for viewership.
Are There Free People Search Sites?
Yes, numerous sites allow users to find a person's basic information (e.g., name, address, and phone numbers) for little to no cost. However, many of these free people search sites offer limited information, and users looking to obtain detailed information on an individual may have to explore multiple free sites.
For instance, while one site may provide a person's phone number, the researcher may have to look elsewhere to learn the subject's phone history or address. By trawling these sites for data, the user can put the information together without paying a fee. However, this method can be time-consuming. On the other hand, most sites that offer comprehensive data typically charge a fee. They may allow users to view basic information and then require payment for more detailed data.
How To Do a People Search
The first step to performing a people search is deciding which search engine to use, which depends on what information the searcher already has, and what information they are looking to obtain. Typically, running a people search is straightforward. After finding the tool that they want, users must provide specific details regarding the search subject, including:
- The subject's entire name
- The subject's current or previous location of residence
- The subject's phone number
- The subject's home address
- The subject's email
- The subject's IP address
After entering all known information, users can press "Search," and the site provides all available details regarding the subject.
What is People Search by Name?
People search by name is a process of finding people based on their given name. This can be done through various methods, such as online directories, public records, and social media. The goal of people search by name is to find information about a person, such as their contact information, social media profiles, and public records. This process can be useful for many reasons, such as reconnecting with old friends, research purposes, or finding someone who may be difficult to find otherwise. There are a two things to keep in mind when searching for people by their name. First, it is important to have as much information about the person as possible. The more information you have, the easier it will be to find them. Second, be prepared to pay for some services, such as online directories and public records searches. People search by name can be a helpful tool in many situations.
What Is a People Search by Phone Number?
A people search by phone number is a people finder site that allows users to locate an individual by providing their telephone number. Also known as a reverse phone lookup, these sites collect telephone numbers and their owners' details. Sites that allow people to search by phone number are similar to telephone directories that enable users to input a subject's name and address to obtain their phone number. These sites, however, require users to input the subject's telephone number to get their name and other details.
Interested persons can search online for websites that allow users to perform a people search by phone number. Some sites allow users to perform a free reverse phone lookup, while others charge a fee. Once the researcher finds their preferred site, they can search by inputting the subject's phone number in the search bar and waiting for the results. The site will return the available results, and the user can sift through the relevant profiles for the most relevant results.
What Is a People Search by Address?
Also known as a reverse address lookup, a people search by address is an online tool that allows users to search for information about a particular home or business address. These sites provide researchers with details about the address, such as the property owner or the former and current residents.
There are many reasons to perform a reverse address lookup. Researchers may want to find information about their neighbors or learn about a neighborhood before buying a new home.
Individuals interested in carrying out a people search by address can find websites that offer the service and input the complete address. Researchers should input all possible details to ensure a thorough search. Positive search results may provide the following details about the residents or property owner:
- Full name
- Contact details
- Date of birth
- Information on relatives
- Criminal history (if available)
- Past home addresses
- Social media profiles
The results will also include details about the property, such as its measured size, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the year of construction, and the property's estimated value.
What Is a People Search by IP Address?
A people search by IP address is a website that allows interested persons to locate any internet-connected device by the IP address associated with it. Also known as an IP address lookup, an interested person can input a particular IP address and determine the device's country. The results can be more specific, providing information on the state, city, and internet service provider.
What Is a People Search by Email?
A people search by email is an online tool, also known as a reverse email lookup. The tool allows interested individuals to do a reverse email lookup to determine who owns a particular email address. A person may have various reasons for performing a reverse email search. They may want to find information about an email stalker or learn about a remote contact before exchanging personal documents by email.
Individuals interested in running a reverse email lookup can find websites offering the service and input the known email address. The website will provide the details associated with the email address, including the owner's full name, phone number, associated social media accounts, and other available details.
Are People Searches Legal?
Yes, people searches are legal. The United States does not have any laws to stop websites from collating individuals' personal public information and publishing it online. Public records are available for any member of the public to access through official government sources, but these sites collect the information in one place. The information is not geographically limited to a specific jurisdiction, making it simpler to access. These sites publish information collated from public records, defined by the FOIA. The information they put on the internet is entirely legal, and they can publish it without fear of legal repercussions.
While people searches are legal, using the information provided for official purposes such as employment or tenant screening is not. This is because not all search engines comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is a federal law ensuring that consumers' rights to privacy are respected, and searches do not use inaccurate data to determine eligibility for credit, insurance, housing, or employment. Individuals can perform non-FCRA compliant background checks on people finder sites to satisfy personal curiosity, but employers, landlords, and creditors cannot use the information for official purposes. Instead, these parties must conduct FCRA-compliant background searches through regulated consumer reporting agencies.
How Do People Search Sites Get Your Information?
Most people search sites compile individuals' information by aggregating public records and gathering self-reported information. Examples of public records include, but are not limited to:
- Property records
- Marriage certificates and divorce decrees
- Court records
- Trademark filings
- Birth and death certificates
- Voter's records
- Driver's licenses
- Census records
- Records on government spending
- Sex offender registries
- Arrest and criminal records
- Political campaign donations
- Utility company records
- Minutes from legislation meetings
- Company registrations
- Professional license registrations
People search sites also gather details from self-reported records. Many websites ask users to provide their name, email, and other details to access or gain certain privileges. These websites later sell the information to aggregate sites, which sell that information to the public. Types of self-reported data include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Signups for contests
- Survey information
- Lottery entries
- Mailing list information
- Rebate and warranty card details
How To Remove Your Information From People Search Sites
While people search sites are legal, many consider the public availability of their details to be an invasion of privacy. Individuals interested in removing their information from people search sites can do so manually. Parties can visit each site and search for their details. These sites generally have opt-out pages where subjects can apply to remove their information. The individual can fill out a form, provide a link to the page with their information, and request that the site remove it from their records.
Besides manually removing information, individuals can take additional steps to keep their information away from people search sites. Individuals with social media accounts can keep their accounts private and refrain from making public profiles. It may also be helpful to delete old, unused online accounts that could be selling your information. Parties may also use a VPN, or virtual private network, to keep their information secure. While it may be impossible to delete one's information from the internet completely, parties can take steps to retain some privacy.