Google, Facebook and LinkedIn can perform powerful online searches for people, but they won't find everyone. Sometimes those searches for a friend, family member or former coworker, will turn up nothing. When that happens, you might have to comb through thousands of public records, some of which may not be free, to find the person. And if the trail goes cold, you may give up the search in frustration. Fortunately, for a small fee, people search services can do all the work for you by going through thousands of records and documents.
In only a few days, these services can deliver loads of information about the people you're trying to find. The best people search services locate someone with only a name search and give you results in seconds. Most of the services use data from public documents or other public information, but some will also look into certain private documents and social media profiles.
Keep in mind that none of the people search services we reviewed can guarantee the accuracy of the information since people can suppress information through data suppliers or aggregates. Also, the information you find through people search services is protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and cannot legally be used to determine a person’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment or other business transaction.
We compared the best people finders and found the most effective services are US Search, Intelius and Spokeo. Below, we explain what to look for in these services. If you want useful search tips to make the most out of these services, read our articles about people search services.
The best people search services help you find the right data about the people you’re looking for, and they help you make sense of the information. We rate each service based on its search tools and the accuracy and comprehensiveness of its reports. The best services give you enough information to identify the person you're looking for, along with a current address and phone number. Finally, the people search engine you use should have good customer support and an easy-to-use website that includes detailed information about the services available.
We used the following criteria to compare services.
The reports carry the most weight in our reviews. We tested for accuracy, ease of use, and amount and relevance of available information. To gauge accuracy, we used several test subjects who are of varying degrees of difficulty to locate. We compared their information to what we found at every search site, and we marked a service down if it offered false or incomplete information. In addition, we rated the clarity of the reports in our people search reviews, because all the data in the world means nothing if you can't read it. Finally, we looked at the type of information provided in the reports. The best reports include aliases, address history, relatives and social networking information, among other details. To use these services, you can pay one fee for a single search or sign up for a monthly subscription to search for people as many times as you need.
To use one of these services to track a person, you first have to navigate the service's search tools. The best people finders use simple and intuitive tools that make your search easy. For example, if you do not know where a person lives, the people finder should let you search by name and age. In our reviews, we evaluate how precise and accessible each service's search tools are.
Most people search services go beyond finding your lost loved ones – they can offer extra protection for their customers. If you decide to sign up for a monthly people search service but find that it isn’t working for you, the best people finders will allow you to cancel your membership with no penalty. Some of the services we rated offer more in-depth information through background checks or international searches.
If it’s important to you to keep your information private, you can choose to opt out of many of the people search services' databases.
Help & Support
The best people search sites make it easy to find help and customer service if you run into trouble. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) sections can offer helpful information. Good email and phone support also prove useful for solving problems. Customer support representatives should be knowledgeable and quick to respond.
We also note if the services require you to create an account before you can see search results, if they save your personal information or send you ads, and if they are involved in any pending or recent legal action.
People search services can help you locate individuals and stay connected when basic searches turn up blank. The best services make finding people easy and quick, and they provide accurate and comprehensive information.