This might come as a shocker, but Google isn’t the only viable search engine when you’re trying to track someone down online. In recent years plenty of new and innovative people search engines have emerged onto the scene, some surpassing even Google in terms of their effectiveness. Although there’s no definitive one-stop website for tracking someone down just yet, there are definitely a dozen more ways to do so than there were just a decade ago. So, the next time you wonder what’s new with one of your friends or an old colleague you haven’t seen in a while, you can use these websites to track them down and find out.
Fair warning: stalking is an offense and you should always be wary of it. People have been prosecuted for stalking in the past. There’s a fine line between finding someone you’ve lost touch with and reconnecting, and passionately stalking someone online.
This is a relatively new people search engine that’s grown in popularity in the last couple of years. It’s eerily comprehensive and houses a lot of public information. You might be shocked to realize the amount of public data available on you if you perform a simple search on your own name. This might freak you out, but this website can be a real life-saver if you’re in desperate need of a phone number for business purposes. The index has both listed and unlisted numbers, as well as addresses. The founders of ZabaSearch maintain that all of the info is public so it violates no laws.
Pipl is interesting because it apparently uses the “deep web” to find people Google can’t. Although we thought it was a gimmick at first, it actually returns some pretty useful info, including personal web pages, names, press mentions, etc. If the search you want to conduct is too broad or the name is too general, you can narrow it down by giving Pipl some guidance, such as entering the state or city.
Wink isn’t a regular search engine, but rather one which scans all social media for the name you give it. It will return Friendster, Myspace, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for the associated name, in addition to other information such as their interests or even, whenever possible, their location.
ZoomInfo was built to connect candidates with potential corporate businesses, but it can also be sued as a tool for tracking people down. It lists a person’s employment history, their current job title and whether or not they’re currently on the lookout for a job. You can filter people by location if there are too many “John Doe’s”.
To access most of the information available through Intelius, you’ll be asked to pay a fee. The site offers everything from phone numbers to complete background checks and actually can have useful information. I have purchased information from Intelius in the past and it did lead me to exactly the person I was looking for. However, I know the price tag (often starting around $40) can be off-putting, especially if you’re only casually searching or if you need to find information on a long list of people.
Using a search engine to track someone down is perfectly legal. As long as all of the information you find is public records, you’re not breaking any laws. Use them at your discretion, however.
Originally appeared in Superselected