United States People Search

People Searching in the United States

Find a person for free by any number of search parameters: name, address, telephone number(s), past and present employer, occupation or school, relatives, spouse, ex-spouse, military service...

Literally any word related to an individual can be helpful in locating information about the person in question.

A good place to start is the search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo which are some of the largest repositories of information on people - dwarfed of course by Big Brother (the NSA) which allegedly hears and sees all that is said and done online - and beyond.

In the Google search box type the last name of a person. Whoa. Way too many results and it's highly unlikely the target will be listed in the top search results, much less in the #1 listing. To narrow the search results, enter more known information about the person sought. Add a first name. Still too many. Add a middle initial, maybe a middle name if known.

Adding additional 'key words' related to the person helps the search engine to filter out people whose information doesn't fit the criteria. For example, searching for Bill Smith returns 835 million websites containing those 2 names. 'William Barrymore Smith' reduces the number of websites matching the search phrase to 6.9 million. Adding Texas (William Barrymore Smith Texas' drops the returns significantly to just 52 websites.

A little-known search function is to put a search phrase in double quotes ("search name here"). Doing that to our example returns no results at all, which means that there is no online resource (to which Google has access anyway) that contains the exact wording "william barrymore smith texas".

That brings up other questions: "Does text case matter?". Does 'texas' return different results than 'Texas'. Tx? TX? Long ago word format did matter and may still return a variety of SERPs (Search-Engine Return Pages) in some search services, but Google has smoothed a good bit of variation out, presenting very similar (if not exact) results regardless of capitalization, punctuation, etc. - even to the extent of showing websites and online resources with correct spelling when incorrect spelling occurred in the search phrase.

Scrolling through possible matches can be reduced by personalizing search listings. Using Google, conduct a search (any search) then click on 'Settings' under the search box then 'Search Settings'. Under 'Results per page' move the slider to the right to 100.

While in Settings, changes can be made, activating Safe Search, a region on the world, private results and voice search - particularly useful for those of us who loathe typing or can't. Remember to click Save at the bottom to register the changes. Doing so will apply preferences to the next search.

Another cool browser feature is searching quickly through SERPs for a specific name or phrase. Hold the control key down and press F to open a search box. Enter a portion of the name or phrase sought. The search box will show two numbers like 1/24 and highlight the characters entered for every matching entry on the webpage. '1' is the first match and 24 is the total number of matches on the page. If there are no matches the numbers will be 0/0. Use the up and down arrows to the right of the numbers to move down or up to the next match. If the cursor is on the first match, clicking the up arrow will move the cursor focus to the last match on the page.

Another handy feature is designating which websites should be accessed each time the browser is opened. Windows machines have Windows installed so Microsoft controls the default setting leading browser users to MSN.com which of course takes a long time to load all the click bait and background ads. Change the default sites in Chrome by clicking on the three vertical periods in the upper right corner of the browser window then choose Settings. Scroll down to 'On startup', check 'Open a specific page or set of pages' and click on 'Add new page'. Type in the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) address (like https://www.google.com) and click Add. To remove a website, click on the 3 vertical dots to the right of the entry of the website and 'remove'. There is no 'save button' in Chrome. Changes will be saved when 'settings' is existed.

In Internet Explorer, first, the Menu Bar must be displayed. If it is not, right click on the top of the browser window and tick 'Menu Bar' then select Tools then Internet Options. (The same destination can be reached through the Control Panel > Internet Properties.) On the General page, remove any undesirable destinations and type in the URL(s) of websites that should open when IE starts. Remember to click 'OK' to save changes.

Any page open on the computer screen can be printed. While viewing a page, hold the Control Key down and press P. The ensuing print screen presents options for which printer to use, which pages to be printed, the number of copies, landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) orientation, color and 'more settings' leads to paper size, pages per sheet, margin settings, quality (print density), scale, headers and footers and background graphics.

If you would like to 'remember' a page and find it easily again, while viewing the page press Control + D to open the bookmark function. Type a (descriptive) name for the webpage. Use the down arrow in the Folder box to view suggestions for where to save the bookmark. Use 'Choose another folder' to view other folders or use 'More' then 'New folder' to create a new folder. Remember to click Save. To view and manage bookmarks, in Chrome, Click on the 3 vertical icons at the top right, hover over Bookmarks then press 'Bookmark manager'. In the manager bookmarks can be moved, renamed, deleted, created, copied and pasted.

It is also possible to save a webpage. While viewing it, right click and choose 'Save as'. Alternatively select Cast and choose a destination for the 'cast'. Click on Sources to see options for 'Cast tab', 'Cast desktop' and 'Cast file'.

If you only wish to capture all of the text on the webpage, copy it to the clipboard and paste into another program like Word, Notepad, an email message or any other program that supports the 'paste' function - while viewing the page, press Ctl+A to select all of the text on the page then Ctl+C to copy the text to the Windows clipboard. Go to the program to be used for pasting. Open a document then use Ctl+V to paste (or right click, paste).

Search Using an Image

Great feature, especially when wanting to know if proprietary or copyrighted work has been hijacked, but for people-search purposes, using Google as an example, on the Google search page press 'Images' in the upper-right corner. Click on the 'camera icon' in the search box and paste the URL of the image of upload an image file. This is an awesome feature well within its infancy in that currently, only exact images will be found if they exist. There is no facial recognition available to the public via a search engine, but as law enforcement and Big Brother loosens their grips on technology, this may become a more useful and widely-used feature.

Search by Voice

To use this feature of course there must be a microphone of some sort connected to or installed on the computer. Windows Cortana may need to be calibrated to your voice to make words spoken by you understandable to the software. The calibration is built into Cortana and requires reading of words, phrases and sentences. Engineers have been working feverishly over the years, improving 'voice recognition', but still a long way to go.

On the Google search page press 'Voice' in the upper-right corner. Pronounce each name or word as distinctly as you did when helping Cortana learn your voice patterns. Without the perfection that is sure to follow one day, it may be necessary to use the keyboard to correct words or names that are 'way off' and Google's spell checker might also help. If a word you've spoken is a bit off, you might leave it for the spell checker to suggest alternatives. The search results of course will be the same results that would have been returned if the same characters had been typed in the search box.

Property Records Search

Searching property records can be a form of 'reverse address search' if an address is known and used as a search phrase in the search function of a county tax assessor's website. Look for 'county tax assessor' and append the name of the county as a way of locating the proper website then hunt for a search function of property records. Enter or paste the address in the search bar. It might be helpful to see more search results by leaving the numbers of the street address off.

Most search services should also allow the search of property records by name. Here again using only a last name should return more results to pan through but for more common names adding a first name should help to narrow the results.

Either way the initial list of properties might include the Property ID, Account Number (of the account with the assessor's office), the owner's name, the 'situs' address and the current year's assessed value. Property information is a possible way of determining the person's life style and financial status.

Opening a tax record may reveal the amounts of money going to a local college, the county, the local city and the city's school - for the current as well as past years. The current amount due and any past-due amounts may be displayed.

A disclaimer similar to the following is likely to appear at the bottom of the page: "Every effort has been made to offer the most current and correct information possible on these pages. The information included on these pages has been compiled by staff from a variety of sources, and is subject to change without notice. The County Tax Office makes no warranties or representations whatsoever regarding the quality, content, completeness, accuracy or adequacy of such information and data. The Tax Office reserves the right to make changes at any time without notice. Original records may differ from the information on these pages. Verification of information on source documents is recommended. By using this application, you assume all risks associated with access to these pages, including but not limited to risks of damage to your computer, peripherals, software and data from any virus, software, file or other cause associated with access to this application. The Office shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of any cause relating to use of this application, including but not limited to mistakes, omissions, deletions, errors, or defects in any information contained in these pages, or any failure to receive or delay in receiving information.

The deniability seems to be contradictory in that it's the government who forces property taxes onto property owners, assesses the value of holdings, sets the tax percentages, collects and distributes funds and confiscates real estate for nonpayment. If they aren't responsible for their actions, who is?

Find a Deceased Person from the United States

Locate a record of a deceased relative, veteran or anyone in the United States by searching the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) at https://ladmf.ntis.gov/ which requires 'certification' which requires proving 'a legitimate fraud prevention interest, or a legitimate business purpose pursuant to a law, governmental rule, regulation or fiduciary duty to be certified'.

The SSDI does not include all persons who have passed who had social security numbers. It only includes those people who were reported as deceased.

To begin the registration process, click on 'Register' on the above webpage at the upper right. Owners of other websites hoping to cash in on this service have become registered and make searching the Limited Access Death Master File available for a fee. Look in Google and other search engines for 'find a deceased person' for a list of possibilities. Allegedly these sites are 'free to search": familysearch.org, ancestry.com, familytreelegends.com and stevemorse.org. Your mileage may vary.

The current fee for a copy of the SS-5 application is $27 ($29 if a social sec # isn't known) and the fee is not refundable is a record cannot be found. Also be prepared to wait as a response may take up to six months or longer.

Records of deceased persons are available from the Social Security Administration of approximately seventy-five million deceased dating back to 1936. Those records are in the Social Security Death Index. There are no records in the SSA for dead persons prior to that date.

Perhaps surpisingy the dead are not protected in the United States by privacy laws. If the deceased applied for a social security number, the SSA will provide a copy of the application (form SS-5). The document will include the person's name, date of birth, parents' names (that were provided when the person applied) and place of birth.

The SSA started keeping electronic records in 1962. The database (https://www.ssa.gov/data/) can be searched on the following criteria: dates of birth or death, first name, last benefit (city, county, state), last known residence, last name and/or social security number. To search in Spanish, click on 'Búsqueda Español' at the upper right. Search options are provided to search the entire SSA or just 'policy manual', English FAQs and OIG results.

Find an Ancestor in the USA

Two thousand two will mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in the United States at New York in 1620, making four hundred years of ancestorial history on hand for those interested in tracing their family heritages back to English roots.

The first Spanish settlement in North America was Veracruz in 1519. The first slaves from Africa arrived in 1619. Of course the Paleo-Indians have been in the Americas for approximately thireteen thousand years so despite being a relatively new country, the United States is rich in ancestry.

The extent to which relatives from the past can be found electronically is dependent upon the degree of effort that has been made to commit such information to digital form and publish it on the Internet. Going 'way back' may still require trips to the library, peruse of old newspapers, rummaging through property records and the like.

The U.S. government maintains an extensive compilation of historical data on past U.S. citizens and people who have entered into or resided in the Unites States.

The National Archives and Records Administration has records of citizens and military personnel dating back to the Revolutionary War (at https://www.archives.gov/research/military/genealogy.html) as well as archives for federal employees, members of congress.

Locate a Dead Person

A bit morbid perhaps but the search target may be deceased. There are several ways to use online search services to dig up (sorry) a record on someone who has gone on to the after life.

Local People-Information Archives

If the person's current or past state or county of residence(s) are known, local government agencies like the post office and county records are good sources of information about United States residents and property owners.

All records of felony and misdemeanor criminal proceedings, guilty, dismissed or otherwise, tried in local jurisdictions, are kept at the county court.

Searching thirty-two hundred counties'records manually or electronically is free. They have information regarding assumed names, birth and death certificates, civil-filing fees, civil, criminal and commissioner's court, county court ad litem list, deeds, financial audits, personal and real property ownership, foreclosures, genealogy, judicial proceedings, liquor licenses, marks & brands, marriage licenses, military discharge records, petition and order of nondisclosure and probate history.

Employees at post offices in towns and cities, particularly in smaller ones, can be a wealth of information about local residents, especially those workers who have been on the job for a long while. They know (of) everyone because of their daily handling of mail and because they interact with locals who transact business at their establishments. Anyone serving the public in a private or governmental position may know of persons who lived or who are currently living in the area. The local phone, cable and power companies have records of their customers.

With a little bit of sleuthing other uncommon contacts for tracking someone down may be the local police, clergies, funeral parlors, high schools and colleges, hospitals and all the places that are visited if not frequented by the local populous. When calling upon such sources of course it would be very helpful to have past and current photos of the person sought. Parishioners and classmates in small to medium-sized towns as well as employers and employees of small businesses can be direct sources of information as to where an individual might be or headed. What did the person in question convey to others about his or her future, plans, intentions, desires, likes and dislikes, favorite destinations. These are the works of private investigators but you do not have to be a PI to ask similar questions of the target's acquaintences, including relatives, ex-spouse(s), past fellow workers. Investigators piece together bits of information to develop a path leading to the person sought.

Two very arcane bastians of people history are local libraries and newspapers, from library cards to obituaries, new articles, engagement and wedding announcements, job promotions and changes, military involvement, political achievements - everything 'the news' thought might interest us. OCR technology (optical character recognition) has made it possible for archives to skip laborious keyboard entry of the written word by 'reading' text and converting it to electronic form, hence, droves of the written word have been converted to pluses and minuses and recorded for posterity in millions of searchable databases throughout the world.

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