How to Trace People for Free
By David Sarokin
People have a habit of disappearing from our radar. Perhaps you'd like to find an friend from childhood, grade school or college, reconnect with an old romance, or touch base with a colleague from a former job. Even family members can vanish for years at a time and the desire--or sometimes the need--to track them down can be strong. Even when online white pages like SuperPages.com don't list the person you're seeking, you can use free resources on the Internet to help trace a person.
Search for the person's name at Pipl.com. This free service scours the Internet for information on a person from sites like Facebook and MySpace and also searches the "invisible Web"--sources that don't typically show up in search engine results.
Search for the person's name at Google News Archives. This comprehensive news archive includes articles from years and decades past, allowing you to search for news on an individual such as an engagement or wedding announcement.
Try free searches at pay services.
Intelius.com is a commercial people-search service, but you can conduct a search on a person's name and receive preliminary information at no charge. The free information at Intelius includes a person's age and relatives, which helps confirm that the listing matches the person you seek.
You might also search at Jigsaw.com for workplace listings. Preliminary results are free here as well, although they charge a fee to retrieve a full listing.
Check the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for information on a person's passing. People do die, and if someone has passed on in the past few decades, there's a very good chance that the SSDI records has the information. A simple name search will return detailed information including full name, Social Security number, age and residence.
David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. He has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government. David is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), a book exploring how better information can lead to a more sustainable future.