Whether you need background information on a person for financial, employment or personal reasons, finding someone's history is not difficult. Records are available online and are easily accessible to anyone with the right information. If you can obtain vital information from the person himself, conducting a background check or history is much easier. If all you have is a name, the process may take more time and skill.
Gather Personal Information
Get the person you are trying to investigate to give you as much information upfront as possible. Get the person's full legal name and any maiden names or other names they might have used. Ask them for additional statistical information such as date of birth, location of birth, driver's license number, Social Security number and their current and previous address. Is the person married?
Get any spouse's full name, birth date and Social Security number, if possible. Ask for names of parents or siblings, current and previous employers, schools or member organizations. All of these can be used to narrow down identities in a search.
Be Nosy and Ask
Ask outright for previous criminal history. Was this person ever arrested or convicted of a crime? If so, what was the penalty? Is he currently on probation? Get as much information about the crime as possible, including time served or fines paid.
Also ask about the person's past and current financial history. Has the person ever had a foreclosure or filed for bankruptcy? Some information is only available to the public for a given period of time, so asking may reveal what a search will not.
Start With a Basic Internet Search
Many people over 18 can be found somewhere on the internet. Begin by doing a basic Google search. Type the person's name into the search field. Try adding a city to the search, such as "George Bush Crawford TX." To narrow it down further, add quotes. This will eliminate irrelevant search results.
White Pages will give you current and some previous addresses and will sometimes give you names of other residents in the household. Make sure this information matches the information the person you are searching on gave you.
Next, try Pipl.com. This site searches the deep Internet and unearths pages the person may have created on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. These two popular sites can deliver a wealth of personal information, much of it offered by the author himself.
Search Public Records
You can search for birth, marriage, divorce and death records using online vital statistics sites such as familysearch.org. Be aware that many of the online sites only allow the information to be shared with the parties involved. You can also conduct searches of financial, court and driving records, but again, some states restrict access to the information.
Hire a Professional
Engage an online professional background check service. For a fee, these companies will scour databases and records to turn up information on criminal records, vital statistics, and previous addresses and aliases. The small cost could be worth the time you would have spent. If you are searching on more than one person, use a service that offers unlimited searches for one price.
Check Criminal Records
If you need a thorough criminal background check, you can get more information from city and county criminal records, state criminal courts, databases for the National Department of Corrections and Sex Offenders and the OFAC Patriot Act database. The information available varies from state to state. Some of this information can be purchased from online search companies, and some must be obtained in person. Most counties also maintain a sex offenders list that can be accessed for free. Start by searching the state's ".gov" web site.
- Identity theft is a growing problem. Never give your personal information -- especially credit/debit card, bank account, username/passwords and Social Security numbers -- to anyone unless absolutely necessary. Do not attempt to use another person's identity. Identity theft is a crime.
This article was written by Legal Beagle staff. If you have any questions, please reach out to us on our contact us page.