Are you looking for someone else's address and phone number? There are many web sites that will gladly supply information to you. In fact, they can supply a lot more information than names, addresses and phone numbers.
The so-called "people search" web sites can help some genealogists but they won't find great-great-granddad. In fact, they won't find anyone who died more than about forty years ago and will provide very limited information about any deceased individuals. However, the "people search" sites are great for finding distant cousins, other people who share your surname, and any other living person you wish to find in the United States.
The "people search" sites usually can provide an address and often a telephone number for almost any adult in the U. S. Some of the web sites can also provide the year and month of birth.
Most such sites also offer optional, extra-cost services, including the following:
- Criminal records and court records searches.
- Bankruptcy records.
- Skip trace records in which people "skipped town" without supplying a forwarding address but leaving unpaid bills behind.
- Property records searches. Did you buy or sell a house or land or a condo? The property transfer record is public domain information and probably is available online to anyone for a modest fee.
- Social Security Number searches if you already know the SSN number but do not know the name of the person. Of course, Social Security Numbers of deceased individuals have always been public domain information and are available on many web sites free of charge.
- Maiden names and other legal name changes.
- Current home residence and approximate value of property owned.
- Past residences.
- Area sex offender listings (free on some sites, available for a fee on others).
- Some of the sites also offer telephone directory searches. Some sites even claim to provide unlisted numbers although I find such claims often are exaggerated. It is more likely that they can find SOME unlisted numbers derived from public records other than telephone books. For instance, if you bought or sold property and you happened to provide your unlisted telephone number in the sales transaction records, that information might be available online. However, the advertising never seems to use the adjective "some" in front of the words "unlisted numbers."
Want to check up on a would-be tenant? Want to find out more about your daughter's new boyfriend? The people search sites can be very useful.
Many people consider these sites to be an unwanted invasion of privacy. In fact, I am not comfortable with all the information being displayed. However, they only collect public domain information from a number of different sources, including telephone listings, court documents, property transfer sales agreements, and more. All of these sites carefully comply with the law in order to avoid difficulties.
A few web sites provide even more personal information but are limited to use by private detectives and other licensed and controlled investigators. They are very expensive and access is only granted to those who can provide photocopies of their private investigator's license or other documentation showing they have a right to access sensitive information. Since those sites are not available to the general public, I will ignore them in this article.
You must be careful when paying for information from "people finder" sites. You can find lots of these sites and many charge rather exorbitant fees. Some lower-cost sites promise a lot but deliver less. Many sites use advertising written in such a manner as to suggest they will produce lots of information for a modest fee. After you pay your money, the results you obtain are often less than what you were led to believe by the glowing advertising claims. Others offer reports for very low prices. After paying for and receiving the report, you find it is very limited but the service then offers another, "more in-depth" report for yet another payment. Of course, this extra-cost report was never mentioned in the earlier advertising. This is a modern variation of the old "bait-and-switch" scam.
I suspect there are a number of good, honest, "people search" web sites. I haven't checked all of them, but I have had good luck with several.
ZabaSearch.com is an information aggregator. That is, the web site acts as a gateway to publicly available information. Very little, if any, information is stored on ZabaSearch.com's web servers. However, the site does provide an easy and convenient method of searching for public domain information stored on a number of other web sites.
I recently went to ZabaSearch.com and looked for free information available about myself. I supplied my first and last names and my state of residence. Within two or three seconds, ZabaSearch.com provided basic information about several people with the same names as my own who also live in this state. There was a wide variety of middle initials, however. Some of the listings showed date of birth, but many did not. One of the records was for me but I suspect that most other people would have a hard time determining which record was mine.
I then went back and started a new search, this time inserting my middle initial. ZabaSearch then returned only four records, one of which was mine.
The results returned on this free search included my month and year of birth, my current address, and eight former addresses. Of the eight listed former addresses, three were correct and five were bogus. I never lived at any of the bogus addresses although my ex-wife did. Apparently the online databases assumed that we were still living together during those years when, in fact, we were living apart and had been long divorced. I found it amusing when I found the listed years of residence sometimes had me listed as living in two places at the same time!
I do not have a listed telephone number, and ZabaSearch was unable to supply any of my several unlisted numbers (home phone, cell phone, etc.)
I then conducted similar searches for several of my friends and relatives. The results on each search were about the same as for the first one. ZabaSearch almost always found the correct person, along with others of the same name. If I could decide which listing was the correct one, I could then see current address, former addresses (with frequent inaccuracies), birth date, listed telephone number, and a bit more. For another $50, I was offered the opportunity to obtain the other records mentioned earlier (criminal check, bankruptcies, and more).
For one search, I looked for a cousin that I have not seen or talked with in many years. The last I heard, he was living in Washington State. Unfortunately, I do not know his middle name or initial, nor do I know the town in which he resides. In fact, I am not certain that he is still in the state. I entered his first and last names and specified a search of Washington records. ZabaSearch returned 37 listings of men with the same name living in Washington but I have no way of determining which listing is the correct one for my cousin, if any. Of those with dates of birth displayed, I was able to narrow the list down to several possible candidates. (I do not know his exact date of birth but I do know he is three or four years younger than me.) Since some of ZabaSearch's sources do not include birth dates, there were quite a few listings with no birth dates listed. He might be one of those.
I guess I could spend an evening on the phone, calling each telephone number listed. There's a good chance that I could find him. However, if my cousin had a more common surname (Smith, Jones, Johnson, Green, etc.), I'd be out of luck.
ZabaSearch is a service that I use infrequently. However, on the few occasions that I have needed it, ZabaSearch has sometimes worked well for me, better than the other services I will describe in a moment. It works well on unusual names, but don't attempt to use it for common names. Basic information is available free, and $50 is not outrageous for the extended information available.
For more information, go to http://www.ZabaSearch.com.
Another good service is Yahoo People Search. In fact, this service provides more information about me than ZabaSearch but less information about possible "candidates" for my cousin in Washington. One thing that Yahoo People Search excels at is finding relatives; my daughter's name was listed beside mine on the free search page. .
Yahoo People Search is worth a try at http://people.yahoo.com.
WhoWhere.com is a service of Lycos. I was rather unimpressed with this service. A search with this service did find me (and many others with the same name), but it offered little information free of charge. The site’s advertising really pushes its extra-cost services. It is available http://www.whowhere.com.
USA People Search looks a lot like Yahoo People Search although the search results returned rather different information. This web site found me but displayed several incorrect "facts," even claiming that I was related to someone I have never heard of. You can see for yourself at http://www.usa-people-search.com.
The above are some of the more popular "people search" services. You can find more by searching on any search engine.
Want to experiment a bit? Enter your own name into any of these sites and see all your personal information that is available to everyone on the Internet. You may be surprised at how little privacy you have.