Investigating someone’s identity online is a serious undertaking. Anyone can claim anything online, and unfortunately, many people do. Whether you are looking for your long-lost friend or checking to see if that new love interest is really who they say they are, using the Internet to get some background information on a person is a great starting point. However, it can be daunting to start. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the sites out there and not know where to begin or which site will give you legitimate results. Here are 10 ways to start your investigation on someone online:
Social media is a great place to start if you’re trying to find information about someone. People put their whole lives on social media. If they have a social media presence, read through and take notes of things like birth dates, friends, locations, and identifiable markers from pictures such as tattoos or piercings. The information you find on social media might not answer all of your questions immediately, but they can provide a baseline of information that validates information found later on.
Every state provides some form of availability of public records that you can use to investigate your subject. Some states charge for this information, but many do not. Most operate this at the county level. The information found in public records varies by database, but most provide information on property deeds, liens, civil cases, criminal history, and traffic cases.
Secretary of State database
If your subject owns a business, you can search for their business records in the secretary of state database where the business is incorporated. All states keep a record of business entities that can be found in this database. Similar to public records, some states charge for this information, but many do not. The secretary of state database can reveal a variety of information about a company. Most of the time that information is the officers and agents, addresses, incorporation documents, and filing reports.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have revolutionized how we obtain information. However, simply typing in the subject’s name may not get you what you’re looking for. This is because there can be billions of results for a single query. One tip to get more accurate results is to include quotation marks in your query. This is called exact match. Exact match takes the contents between the quotation marks and ensures that the results that are shown contain those contents exactly. So if someone’s name is John Doe and you search for John Doe but do not put it in quotations, then there will be results with John Doo and Jon Doe as well as potentially even other variations of the name. If you search “John Doe” then you get only those results that have John Doe in them exactly as it was typed into the search engine.
ZoomInfo is a great tool if you’re investigating a corporate subject or business owner. ZoomInfo captures data on corporations and their executives and creates a profile for each one. Many corporate officers and directors from around the globe have information here such as email addresses, addresses, employment history, and much more.
If you’re simply looking for an email address for someone at a company, Hunter.io may be able to provide it for you. Hunter.io can help you identify the email address of thousands of companies and executives by matching up their names with the URL and typical email formats used by that company.
Family History & Geneology websites
If the person you’re investigating is a relative, websites like Ancestry.com may be helpful. These databases hold valuable information dating back hundreds of years and aggregate information from all over the world.
Reverse image search
If you have a photo of someone and want to find out who they are, you may be able to use reverse image search. Reverse image search works much like Google Image Search, except that instead of searching for a query, you search for an image.
Many people use the same images across their social profiles, which can lead to revealing what other accounts this person has across the web. This method could also reveal where else this image is located online, which can give clues as to whether it was used inappropriately (like a catfish).
These methods and tools will allow you to perform a comprehensive investigation into someone online. All information on a person is present somewhere online, but you have to know how to find it. It is often the tiniest pieces of information that can lead to a wealth of knowledge when pieced together with other details.