The Pros and Cons of People Search: What to Consider Before Using

Berry Mathew

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The Pros and Cons of People Search: What to Consider Before Using

It’s a big world with over 7.8 billion people out there walking around at any given time. For whatever reason, you may have the need to find one specific person among the billions currently alive. Naturally, this is a difficult task, but the advent of the digital age has allowed for new ways to track people down when you need them.

What is People Search?

People search sites, also occasionally known as a finder site, compile data from various sources on people around the world. This information could be a phone number, address, name, or something else. These sites then offer the information to people. With people search sites, there are two main types: free and quick people search websites and paid-for, length background check level people search sites.

The type of people search site that is right for you depends entirely on what you’re looking for and the purpose behind your search. 

What Can a Search Tell You About a Person?

Most people search sites will offer the same foundational information, with certain sites offering extras. For the most part, however, a people search will tell you:

  • A full birth or assigned name
  • Contact information such as phone number or email
  • Background check reports
  • Criminal history 
  • Marriage records
  • Divorce records
  • Liens
  • Lawsuits
  • Bankruptcies
  • General civil records

People search information should never be used for nefarious purposes and using it for such reasons can get you permanently banned from sites. Additionally, people do have the right to contact a people search company to have their information removed, so not all of the above may be available. 

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Common Reasons to Use a People Search

There are a number of common reasons people use finder websites to locate contact information, criminal history, and more on individuals. However, the most common reasons to turn to one of these sites are:

Background check purposes

While formal background checks can be run, people finder websites will often provide similar information at a high-level glance, typically for far cheaper than a thorough background report. Whether you’re a parent wanting to make sure a person your child is seeing is who they say they are, or you are curious about an employer’s history, using a people search site to run a check on someone’s background is quite common.

Reconnecting with an old friend

Life gets busy and we’ve all lost contact with some excellent friends for no reason other than our schedule’s getting too complicated. When enough time builds up, that old friend may no longer be in the area and you might have lost touch with them completely. People search finders can help you locate where they are, especially if you already know their name and some basic contact information.

Locate long-lost relatives

Similar to finding an old friend, many people will use a finder website to locate long-lost relatives. Whether you have taken a DNA test and discovered new branches of your family tree or you’re simply trying to reconnect, people search websites can help you find your family anywhere in the world. 

The ability to protect your own identity

On the opposite side of things, people search finders can be useful for seeing what information about yourself has been collected. If you lead a private lifestyle or require some degree of privacy, learning what these sites know can allow you to contact them to remove sensitive data if necessary. 

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Pros of Conducting a People Search

As you weigh whether or not you want to run a people search to gather information on somebody, there are certain benefits to consider:

  • The ability to connect with people who you may have never been able to find otherwise
  • Free people look up options mean you don’t need to set a budget for your search
  • You can keep your own identity safe
  • For employers, it can be a useful way to vet a potential employee without running a full employment screening

Cons of Conducting a People Search

With the above benefits outlined, it’s important to also look at the potential drawbacks that may come from using this type of search:

  • Information may not be available or may be about the wrong person
  • You might found out information you don’t like or didn’t really want to know 
  • Some platforms will charge you money to get access
  • Details of a people search cannot be used for certain purposes 

5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Starting Your Search

If you’ve been convinced to run a people search on somebody based on the above, keep the following in mind as you start to look at their information:

  1. You might be frustrated with what you find

Finding data on somebody can be a frustrating experience when the answer wasn’t what you expected. Be aware that you may not be comfortable with the results you find, prior to starting your search. 

  1. People’s search results aren’t perfect

If the person you’re looking for has a common name, lives in a large city, and is part of a major age group, any person search website may have difficult tracking the correct person down. It will help if you already have some information on the person as this can help to narrow the search. 

  1. Some records might be sealed

Do be aware that certain records on a person may be sealed. For example, some criminal acts committed as a minor likely won’t be accessible, so understand that a people search may not tell you everything. 

  1. A standard people search won’t give you extensive information

The average people search site will give you contact information, location, and suspected relatives of the person. To get an extensive history on that person’s financials and other items, you would need to run a full background check on them. 

  1. People can opt out of having information on a site

Anybody can contact a people search site and request that information be taken down. If information isn’t available, you may have to accept that you can’t find the person.

Find the person you’re looking for today

Regardless of your reason, using a people search platform can connect you with long-lost friends, family, or anyone else. Use a people search site to track down the person you’ve been looking for in mere minutes so that you can contact them.