NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, I’m interested in tracking down some old friends I’ve lost touch with over the years but could use some help. What tips or resources can you recommend to help me find them?
— Searching Senior
If you have access to the Internet, tracking down long-lost friends from many years ago is relatively easy to do, and in most cases, it won’t cost you a cent. Here are some tips and tools to help you get started.
Gather details: Before you begin your search, a good first step is to jot down any information you can remember or find out about the people you’re trying to locate — things like their full name (maiden and married), age or birth date, last known address or phone number, old email address, names of family members, etc. Knowing details can help you turn up clues while you search.
Searching tools: After you compile some information, a good place to start your search is at google.com. Just type in the person’s first and last name in quotation marks to indicate you’re searching for a specific phrase — for example, “John Smith.”
Unless your friend has a unique name, you’re likely to get dozens of results. You can narrow your search by adding other criteria like their middle initial or middle name, the city or state they may live in or even their occupation. You also can do an advanced Google search at google.com/advanced_search, which helps you specify your search for better results.
Some other free people search websites to try are pipl.com, wink.com and zabasearch.com. Or for a few dollars, you can search a little deeper at sites like intelius.com and peoplefinders.com.
In addition to these search engines, try social networking and affinity sites where your friend may have registered, like facebook.com, twitter.com, linkedIn.com and classmates.com.