The Norman Transcript

April 6, 2014

Be your own online detective


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Have you ever wanted to track down someone’s whereabouts but didn’t know where to start and you didn’t want to pay a high-priced private investigator? To the rescue comes the Internet, which is brimming with ways to find long-lost relatives or investigate shady characters.

One place to start is Zabasearch.com. Zabasearch lets you do free searches by name, age, city and state. The more information you provide, the better the search results. The results can include address, phone number, age and the names and ages of family members. There are also links to Intelius, a paid service that can provide even more details about your search target.

Google can be a great place to search for people. Have you ever “Googled” yourself? You should give it a try; the results can be pretty surprising. Put quote marks around your name and follow that with your city and town. The quote marks tell Google to search for an exact phrase and can be helpful in eliminating irrelevant search results.

Other helpful Google search tricks exist. Type phonebook: (the word “phonebook,” followed by a colon symbol) in front of a name and city; even a name and zip code or area code will work. Try various combinations and see how the results can change.

Whitepages.com can be a good search resource, allowing you to do what are called “reverse lookups.” For example, enter an address to find out who lives there; enter a phone number to see who it belongs to.

As it turns out, people who have landline phone service with Cox and AT&T are especially vulnerable to this type of search. Cell phone numbers are harder to discover.

Vitalrec.com lists many good ways to obtain vital records such as birth certificates, marriage records and more. People who do genealogy research do this sort of thing all the time and Vitalrec.com is a good way to get started.

The Social Security Death Index also can be helpful. Rootsweb.ancestry.com links to this index and has many other resources, as well. This is how I found out that my late grandfather actually was born in Iowa.

No serious search would be complete without a visit to USA.gov. This massive government website has more links to databases than any I’ve ever seen.

Want 130 years worth of baby name data? They’ve got it. If there is a local, county, state or federal website with a database of records, it can be found on USA.gov. At first glance, it can look a bit intimidating in its vastness, but spend some time digging around on this impressive website and you’re sure to be rewarded.

You should also visit spokeo.com and pipl.com. As well as addresses and phone numbers, search results can include photographs, email addresses, aliases (good for revealing married and maiden names), website links, blog entries, news articles and other interesting tidbits.

Also include Veromi.com, which does a pretty good job of uncovering family members and associates. You can pay a fee for more detailed search results, but I can’t make a recommendation about doing so, as I’ve never taken that route.

The Internet is not perfect, though, when it comes to finding people. I’ve been searching for an old friend for about four years, now, with no success. Still, the amount of searchable personal information on the Internet is impressive, and you may just find that person you’re looking for.

Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking in Oklahoma since 1984. He also teaches computer safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached at 919-9901 or davemoore

computers.com.

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