When meeting someone through an online dating service or through any other type of Internet-based interaction, it’s important to learn how to investigate someone before you meet.

Investigating someone’s identity online can be difficult. Anyone can claim anything online, and unfortunately, many people do. Background checks are an everyday reality of the world we live in. Getting information off the Internet is a great way to begin, but it can quickly get overwhelming when you consider how much information is out there on any individual. Here are 5 ways to begin your investigation online:

Public records

Public records are files kept by the government about its citizens. You can find out a lot about someone by searching through public records, but it can be hard to know where to look. Before you begin your search, collect as much information as you can about your subject. If you have a full name, an address or phone number, and date of birth or social security number, you will have an easier time finding the right person.

If you don’t have much information to start with, try searching for people by name and location only. Look in state and county records for the town where your subject lives. Those record offices may maintain criminal records, property records, divorce records, and more. Some states provide statewide databases featuring more information as well as access to other counties’ public record databases.

Social media

Use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to investigate your subject online. Make sure that you read through the results carefully before jumping to any conclusions. If the person’s name returns multiple social media profiles related to different people, it’s important that you take the time to look through them all until you find the profile that is related to your search.

You’ll want to get as much information about them as possible. Their middle name and any nicknames will be helpful. Knowing the city they live in or where they went to school is useful for narrowing down your search results. You can also look for online photos of the person to help you recognize them when you find them online.

Secretary of State

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 engine research

Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo have revolutionized how people obtain information. A single query may not yield results if it is not formatted correctly. For example, if someone’s name is John Doe and a user simply types “John Doe” into the search bar without quotation marks, then many results will be returned with John Doo or Jon Doe as well as other variations of the name. Instead, including quotations marks when searching for information that has a named individual gives you an exact result.

Trace the IP address

IP addresses provide a way to trace the location of an individual. There are a number of sites online that can be used to determine where an IP address is located. Some offer this as a free service while others charge a fee. You can also use the IP address in combination with the Whois search function to find out information about the person registered to the IP address.

You can get the IP address of anyone who emails you through Gmail by clicking on “show original” in the upper right-hand corner of that email. This will show you the computer route used by sending the email, along with their email service provider’s server and IP address.

Overall, learning how to investigate online can be accomplished by following the methods in this article. There are numerous ways to go about the process, and it’s important to note that the information you may come across may be either true or false. Learning how to investigate someone takes time and patience, but with these various methods that can be used, you can learn with ease.

Whether you’re investigating someone for an asset search, corporate fraud detection, or as a victim of an online scam, Active Intel Investigations has the resources you need to get started