We all have friends that we’ve fallen out of touch with. Whether it’s an elementary school BFF, a college roommate, a kindly neighbor, or even someone you only knew for a short time, the time may come when you decide it’s time to reach out and reconnect. Unless you’re already connected on social media or have a still-active phone number hidden deep within your contacts, however, finding that old friend may seem like an impossible search. But in this day and age, it doesn’t have to be!
There was a time when finding someone you have lost touch with might involve countless lost hours searching through paper records or the huge expense of hiring a private investigator to do the work for you. But with the advent of the internet, all this has changed. New online tools and resources mean it is easier than ever before to find someone. In this article, we provide five tips which should help you find your lost friend, along with recommendations for the best online services you can use to make the job a lot easier.
How to Find an Old Friend
So, where should you begin your search for your lost friend? If you go about it the right way, a search can quickly start to reap rewards. The key is to be methodical and thorough in everything you do. Here are five steps to help you get started:
1. Compile Everything You Currently Know
First, write down everything you know about the friend you want to find. No detail is too small, so rack your brains for everything you can remember. Your list might include:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Names of family
- Mutual friends
- Past addresses
- Schools attended
- Past employment
- Physical appearance
- Hobbies and interests
- Medical conditions
- Criminal charges or convictions
Try to think outside the box as well. There are no hard and fast rules for search criteria, but sometimes even seemingly insignificant details can lead to a successful search where other more obvious details yield nothing but frustration.
2. Search Social Media
Almost everyone has a social media account of some kind, and many people even leave their profiles open to the general public. So, head over to the big social media sites and enter your friend’s name. This may turn up quite a long list of people. If it does, you have two choices. You can either take the time to scroll through the list to see if you can find the right person, or you can refine your search.
To do this you need to be smart and enter other information along with their name to see what comes up. Things like school and college names are a good start, as are workplaces. It’s a trial and error process, but you might get lucky early on. Another tip is to be sure to search multiple social media sites. If you can’t friend your friend on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook, don’t hesitate to have a look on other sites like Pinterest, Reddit, or Tumblr. You cannot know where your friend may have an account, so try everywhere you can think of.
3. Search Engines
If your social media searches draw a blank, the next place to look is on a search engine. Google is usually the best for this, but any major search engine should do the job. You can try searching for your friend’s name to start with, but unless they have a very unique one, you are likely to draw a blank. So, the key is again to search smart. Look at the information you have about your friend and think about what might turn up a positive result. Enter combinations of searches using names and other information to see what shows up. This, again, is a trial and error process. Patience and creativity will be your best assets in this task.
4. Speak with Mutual Friends or Friends of Friends
Think about people you and your lost friend both had relationships with. It may be that some of your mutual friends are still in contact with them. If not, they may know of someone who is–it’s always worth an ask! If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you can always use those mutual contacts as a jumping-off point for conducting further social media searches. However you do it, reaching out to friends of friends is a powerful method of expanding the boundaries of your search.
5. Hire a Professional Background Checking Service
When all else fails, you can always hire the services of a reputable background checking site. Very often, your lost friend’s contact information is publicly available, but otherwise lost in an endless sea of information. Such background checking services can make the task of sorting through this data far easier and more efficient to boot, making it much more likely that you actually reconnect with that old friend in a timely manner. The best sites can deliver results based on even a minimal amount of information.
Best Background Checking Sites for Finding Old Friends
There are many background checking sites out there, but the quality of service and accuracy of results they offer can vary dramatically. So, how do you choose which one to use? We have David please notice that I’m starting to schedule these to help you make the right decision. In making our selection, we have applied a set of core criteria which all of the best background checking sites should offer:
- Effective research – Some sites can claim they offer in-depth research, but actually deliver little more than the results of a quick internet search. If you want the best chance of getting a positive result, you need to find a site which uses the latest technology to carry out their research carefully and diligently.
- Search customization – The information you may have available about your lost friend may vary. It is therefore vital to chose a site that can do a good job regardless of how much information you give it.
- Accurate and comprehensible reports – The results of a background checking sites will be presented in a final report. But the quality of these reports can vary enormously. We have therefore only recommended those sites which can deliver easy-to-follow, accurate, and detailed reports.
- Ease of use – Background checking sites usually offer a dashboard to allow users to access data and manage their searches. As with all such web apps, some of these are much more intuitive and useful than others.
- Good customer support – Good customer support is essential if you encounter any problems with your search. Look for services that offer extended hours every day throughout the week.
- Mobile apps – While not essential, having search data available at your fingertips makes the overall experience of searching for lost friends a much more convenient one. The best services will have apps for one o
We urge all readers to note that there are no guarantees that any of the following services will be able to track down your lost friend. But our recommendations do offer an impressive track record as well as a high level of user satisfaction. We are therefore confident that if your lost friend can be found, these sites offer you the best chance of doing so.
Our top recommendation is BeenVerified thanks to their comprehensive research service and fantastic track record. While a bit more expensive than other services on the market, they provide exceptional value per dollar spent. Some of that cost can be mitigated by opting for the lower of their two-tier payment system.
This basic level of service is usually quite adequate for finding all but the most elusive individuals. After all, at this level BeenVerified will search through hundreds of different information sources, including financial records, property reports, social media data, criminal records details, address history, and much more. If you are happy to pay a little more, their premium service will delve even deeper into more sources to produce one of the most detailed final reports available anywhere. Regardless of which level you opt for, you can count on your report to be well laid out and easy to understand.
This report, along with all other data pertaining to your search, can be accessed via their convenient online dashboard. Alternatively, iOS and Android users will enjoy full access through dedicated BeenVerified apps. When there’s a question or concern you need addressed, customer service is easily reached during extended hours of operation throughout the week via email and phone. Overall, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better background checking service.
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2. Instant CheckMate
Instant CheckMate is a top-notch background checking site offering two tiers of service for those seeking to reconnect with long-lost friends. At the basic level, they promise to dig deep into marriage and divorce records, family history, previous addresses, social media presence, and even criminal records. While this is usually more than adequate to find individuals who are not actively avoiding detection, CheckMate can uncover details on financial history, court records, driver and even weapons licenses for a premium if you require more sophisticated information.
CheckMate offers a well-designed online dashboard, as well as a convenient 24/7 customer support line for a smooth user experience. Unfortunately, they currently only offer an Android app, which is not ideal for iOS users. Nevertheless, CheckMate’s final reports are easy to follow and well laid out regardless of which platform you use to access it.
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Truthfinder is a highly regarded background checking site that offers an excellent chance of find a your old friends. They search through millions of public records and are able to turn up a whole host of information including full contact details, current and previous addresses, criminal and court records, driving records, personal information, and information about known relatives. For a basic level search, this is an exceptionally large amount of information.
For an additional fee, Truthfinder offers a unique deep web research service which combs through even more online resources. Premium-level users can expect to learn more about a person’s education history, voter registration records, weapons and other licenses held, and much more. While Truthfinder only offers an Android app, iOS users can still access their web-based dashboard via a browser like Safari. To top it off, friendly customer support service is available 24/7 (and toll-free to boot).
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Last, but by no means least on our list is Intelius, which offers a wide-ranging background check service at a competitive price. This robust service is able to identify a person’s full contact details, address history, criminal records, financial history, property records, educational history, and more with the bare minimum amount of information to go off of. To date, they have completed more than 50 million background checks for satisfied customers from across the USA, many of which have helped to reconnect long-lost friends.
Intelius deploys the latest research technology to ensure high success rates in parsing vast databases for valuable information. Their online dashboard is nicely designed and simple to navigate, while their reports are among the most comprehensible we have encountered. Intelius does have dedicated apps available for both Android and iOS devices, both of which feature a streamlined UX and a full complement of features. One sticking point is that customer support isn’t available around the clock, though they do offer extended service beyond regular office hours via email, phone, or their online troubleshooting service.
What Is a Background Checking Site?
A background checking site is an online service that employs the latest technology to search for information about people. They accomplish this by sifting through massive information databases, then compiling everything they find into an easily readable final report. While various sites will search through different sources, all of the information they access is 100% legally available and already in the public domain. You could go out and search the data yourself, but that might take several days of hard work. Why waste your time, when these sites can often do the job in minutes and for a reasonable price?
Many sites can conduct effective searches based on the smallest amount of information provided to them. Even if you only have a partial name and info on a school they attended, these sites stand a decent chance of tracking them down.
Where Do Background Checking Companies Source Their Information?
Each service will utilise different information sources, but the core data that they are searching will largely be the same. All reputable sites enable users to customize their searches based on what they want to find, though some sites offer a premium service which may allow for more sophisticated results.
The types of data searched will generally include criminal records, education records, credit check records, driving records, social security data, litigation records, archive records, personal references, and any information that a person has put up on social media or other websites. Despite the huge volume of information being parsed, robust search technologies allow the best background checking sites to deliver meaningful results and highly accurate reports, often within a few minutes but never in excess of a few days.
Why Are Some Background Checks Free while Others Require Payment?
There are quite a few “free” background checking services, but we urge extreme caution using these sites. Generally speaking, if it’s free, it comes with a catch. Usually if a service or product is offered without cost, YOU are actually the product. This might mean your metadata is harvested and then sold off to the highest bidder. Even worse, such sites may install malware onto your system in order to steal personal information. Others simply just seek to separate you from your hard-earned money through low-quality or downright fraudulent service.
There are always costs involved in running background checks. The technology these sites use to search through data is not available for free, after all. Many of the data sources these sites will access in conducting your search charge a fee to access their databases as well. All background checking sites employ staff and have other overhead to be covered too.
On the other hand, while prices can vary between sites, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the most expensive site is the best. Instead, focus on determining whether the site you choose fulfils all the criteria needed to achieve your objective.
Looking for an old friend is a much easier process than it used to be. Social media and internet search engines may enable you to track some people down on your own for free. If that doesn’t work, there are also background checking sites that run professional public data searches. These sites offer a high chance of finding the person you are looking for, no matter how much (or how little) information you have about them. Many such sites exist online of various quality, so in this article, we have highlighted the four best sites to use to help you find your long-lost friend.
Have you managed to successfully track down an old friend online? Did you make use of a background checking site? Which one did you use? How did you find the experience? Was getting back in touch with an old friend as rewarding as you hoped? We always like to hear the thoughts and experiences of all our readers, so why not share them with us using the comment box below.
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