What Are People Searches?
Searching for people has become very popular with the advent of the Internet. Those conducting people searches are looking for Classmates, Old Sweethearts, Old Friends they’ve lost touch with, and people who owe them money. And, there are many sites out there that will locate these people for you – or claim that they will. You’ve seen Net-Detective and Cyber-Detective and Web-Detective. You’ve probably visited the “Find People for Free” websites. Perhaps you’ve wondered how effective they are, or how they compare with the “We’ll find anyone anywhere” sites, and how those differ from other less commercial and more professional sites.
Those who do skip-tracing as a profession know that the so-called online “Detective” sites are simply using public records searches that are already available to everyone. You might be surprised that most all information is quickly available for free by either “Googling” someone’s name or phone number, or going to a public records database and searching by state and county.
There are other sites that offer to find anyone for as low as $9.99 to $29.99. They might even offer to find your Subject for $49.00, and then up-sell you a “guaranteed” search for $79.00. Unfortunately, what these searches for people provide is most often very different from what they promise. That’s because they are all using the same public records, and they may be accurate to an extent. However, they usually can’t distinguish the difference between the John Doe in Rochester, New York from other John Doe’s in New York State. If you try one of those sites, and put in the name of the person you are seeking, they will sell you recent addresses and phone numbers for people with that same name, then let you call and sort through them all until you find your person. It’s tedious, and most of the information is dated. And there are no guarantees. Ugh.
Then there are the Skip-trace sites that are usually more expensive. Often they have a “No Hit-No Fee” guarantee. These are professional people who do this for a living. They have methods of searching records that are not available to either the general public or the so-called “Detective” sites. They also have experience handling those very difficult people locates. Often they’ll locate a person by first locating friends, spouses, other family members, or employers. They will use these resources to then trace the person you are looking for. Their prices are usually in excess of $100 per search. Ouch!
Which should you use? It depends on your need. If you are trying to find people for your 1980 Class Reunion, then you may want to first give the “Detective” sites a try. You may find about 15% of your Classmates there, and that may be worth it. Other people you may find by sorting through the “We’ll find anybody” sites, and calling all the numbers they give you for people with the same name in the same state.
To find some you really care about, or really want to find, it’s probably best to employ one of the more professional sites. The cost is more, but make sure they have a “No Hit-No Fee” policy. You want results, and you want someone who guarantees results. In the Internet age, that’s what everyone should demand.