How to find someone for free on the internet

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If you want to find someone for free on the internet, you’re not alone. Whether it’s reconnecting with an old colleague or reconnecting with a school friend, there are plenty of reasons you may need to search for clues about a person’s whereabouts online with a background check.

With the internet having made this process easier than ever, there are several different routes to locating people online.

Preparing to find someone on the internet for free

Before you begin your search, consider if the person you want to find may not want to be found, and if they will be comfortable being contacted by you.

Next, it’s useful to compile a list of everything you know about the person for whom you are searching. Minor details can quickly add up to form a whole picture of a person, so include everything you can.

Information could include:

  • Name (including names they may have used previously)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Educational institutions they attended
  • Details of any of their associates
  • Previous employers
  • Any criminal convictions they may have
  • Social media profiles
  • Hobbies or social clubs

If you share mutual business acquaintances or friends with the person for whom you are searching, reach out to them for any missed details.

Using a search engine to find someone

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You can likely find contact details for your person simply by searching their name on your search engine of choice. This is particularly true if they have an uncommon name or honorific.

If your person has a common name, try to add details such as their last known job title, and surround their name with quote marks in the search bar to limit results to that specific query.

If Google doesn’t yield any results, try other search engines such as Yahoo!, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. As the latter doesn’t conduct any profiling on its users, you’ll always see the same results as anyone else searching for this individual.

Using reverse image search to find someone

If you have an image of the person you’re seeking, a reverse image search could provide you with clues about their location.

Also known as content-based image retrieval, this technique enables you to search the internet with an image, rather than written text, as your starting point. Once the search is complete, you’ll see details of any websites or other images relating to your initial image.

If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, you can do a reverse image search by visiting and clicking on the camera icon. Alternatively, you can use a search engine dedicated to looking up images, such as TinEye or Yandex.

Searching social media to find someone

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By checking a person’s LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), or Facebook profile, you can often find a way to contact the person for whom you are looking.

To easily perform a search on social media, visit the platform of your choice and enter the person’s name and job title into the search bar. You will often come across social media profiles via step 1, particularly LinkedIn and X.

Searching public records to find someone

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When you’re trying to find more information about an individual, you can often find clues by considering key milestones in their life, such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. If such an event took place, there is usually be a record of it.

For accessing this information in the USA, the laws in every state vary greatly, so spend some time researching the specific laws in the state where you’re searching. Although marriage and divorce records tend to be public, birth and death certificates are often subject to stricter rules if they are less than 100 years old. You may also find that any identifiable information has been removed from any records you obtain.

Such information is generally maintained by the county clerk’s office, and if there is an electronic record, you may be able to request to view it remotely. You should be able to find an email address or phone number for the county clerk’s office on its website. You can then contact the department directly to learn more about the process for accessing public records in the area.

Using court records to find someone

If you want to find someone who has been involved in court proceedings, the documents linked to their case may provide clues to their current contact details.

In the US, all federal court records are available through the online catalog at, which provides information on criminal charges, bankruptcies, and civil court cases. 

Although you can register with PACER for free, there is a fee of 10 cents per page to access any documents. However, this fee is waived if you access less than $30 worth of information per quarter.

PACER also has a case locator tool that can help you determine whether an individual is currently involved in any federal litigation.

Use a free people search tool to find someone

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If you’ve taken all the steps listed above and you’re still having problems tracking someone down, using one of the best free people search sites could be your next step.

Although you’ll normally need to pay a monthly fee to use these services, like PeopleFinders or TruthFinder, many sites such as Whitepages or That’s Them let you use a limited version of their features at no cost. Through a free report, you can find a person's details.

It could also be worthwhile to invest in a people search tool if your best efforts don't yield any results. Although many of these carry fees, the best people search sites often offer competitive deals, and you may find you only need to sign up for a short time.

Conduct an inmate search to find someone

If the person you’re looking for has spent time in prison in the US, you may be able to locate them through an inmate search via the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Doing so will allow you to see the whereabouts of any individual incarcerated for a federal crime since 1982.

You can search using a person’s prison registry numbers or through personal information such as their name, race, and sex. Note however that these records relate only to prisoners who have been convicted of federal crimes, and the website states that certain information regarding release dates may not be up-to-date. has a similar system named 'Find a prisoner', through which you can find inmates in English or Welsh prisons.

If you’re searching for an inmate who was convicted before 1982 in the USA, you could try searching the National Archives Records Administration.

Katy Ward

Katy Ward is a freelance journalist and editor with more than 10 years' experience writing about tech and finance. Throughout her career, she has worked with tech giants such as Google and Yahoo!, as well as a host of fintech start-ups. Her work has appeared in national newspapers and independent media outlets.