Anyone trying to find out about another person online can perform a free people search. Armed with a small piece of information, a whole load of data can be retrieved within seconds.
People search engines are beneficial if a person doesn’t have much of an online presence, such as social media, alum, or business pages.
Where do these search engines get their data from, how much is made available, and can a person have it removed?
How A People Search Engine Works
People search sites (also called data brokers) range from free to premium. The more a user is prepared to pay, the deeper the search becomes.
Where They Get Their Data From
Everything a person does that has an online transaction keeps a digital record of that activity. It could be something as minor as paying a utility bill, something more significant like purchasing a house, or something serious like obtaining a criminal conviction.
People search engines collect all this information and more from various places:
- Social media: one of the most accessible places to get data, including event attendance, photographs, and videos
- Utility companies: details include addresses and consumption
- Property records: purchases and disposal of land, homes, and apartments
- Court records: court attendance, convictions, witness testimonies, voter registration
- Registries: birth, marriage, divorce, death certificates
- Professional licenses: pilots, doctors, lawyers, architects
This list is only just scratching the surface. Some people search sites even scrape the deep and dark webs for further data.
Some data brokers collaborate with others to sell the information they’ve gathered, allowing for even more extensive databases.
How to Use a People Search Site
Once you’ve exhausted regular search engines and social media to find out information about another person, a people search site can help.
Naturally, the more information available about the person, the better, but a search can be conducted with nothing more than a name and a state.
Enter these details and press the search button. Some sites may use pop-ups during the process to try and trigger other pieces of available information, with ‘I don’t know’ as an option.
Some sites can produce results in seconds, while others do a deeper scan and may take time to respond.
The results are usually in a report format that can be downloaded if required.
What Information Does a People Search Site Provide?
The results can be mixed depending on the site and whether it’s free or premium. At the very least, a person can expect to learn the following:
- A person’s gender, date of birth, and age
- Their marital status
- Any names or aliases used
- Addresses, both current and previous
- Names and addresses of family members
- Their education and employment history
- Listings of properties bought or sold
- Civil and criminal records, including judgments, liens, and bankruptcies
Can You Have Your Information Removed?
Some people feel very strongly about their information being made available on these sites and would prefer it taken down. This concern can be alleviated by a process called ‘opting-out.’
The challenge with this action is that as there are hundreds of people search sites, it needs to be manually done one by one.
The process itself is straightforward. Go to a site, enter your information and wait for any results. On the report should be a link to opt out; click on it and follow the instructions.
While simple, it becomes tedious when done on so many sites. There are paid services that offer to do it, but they may miss some.
Remember that removing it once won’t prevent new information from being created or added, especially if any change is made to a public record.
People Search Engines Let Others Be Found
People search engines are an increasingly popular way to find out information about others.
The sites collect their data from public and private sources and even share this information with similar companies.
If someone doesn’t want their information to be made available, they can choose to opt out. However, it’s a lengthy and possibly costly process.
Nothing is ever really erased from the internet forever, so make smart choices about what gets posted online.