There are many reasons that you might have to conduct a search to locate another person. One of the common reasons for searching for other people is to serve court papers on them. For example, filing a lawsuit or serving getting a witness to appear in court requires that a process server, sheriff or marshal serve the person with a summons or a subpoena.
Conducting a people search free on the internet is probably the best method for locating someone. Here are five sources that usually yield results.
1. Reach out to friends, employers and relatives
Although it is not an internet source, you might be pleasantly surprised by the amount of information friends and relatives of the person you are trying to find might be willing to give you. The best approach to take is to be honest about your intentions and let them know from the outset the reason you are trying to locate the individual. People have the right to choose not to cooperate with you, so the best response to a reluctant source is a polite "thank you."
2. Check military records
Depending upon the age of the person you are attempting to find, you should find out if they are on active duty with the military. The U.S. Department of Defense allows you to search its Servicemembers Civil Relief Act website. The search will only tell you if the person is on active duty, but it will not provide you with contact information.
3. Find out if the person you are looking for is in jail or prison
If you believe the person for whom you are searching might be in prison, the places to conduct an internet search to find them include:
- Federal Prisons: The U.S. Bureau of Prisons oversees the federal prison system. The BOP operates a website where you can conduct a search to find out if the person you want to locate is being held in custody in a federal prison or detention facility. It will give you the name and location of the facility at which the person is an inmate.
- State Prisons: Each state department of corrections has a prisoner locator that allows you to access its database to find out if a person is an inmate and the location of the facility at which they person is being held.
- Local Jails: Most jails are under the jurisdiction of the county sheriff or a local department of corrections. As with state systems, there is no single database to conduct a search covering all jails in the country. You must search each county individually.
4. Motor vehicle records
Each state controls the extent to which the general public has access to records kept by the department of motor vehicles. As a general rule, you must certify that you are conducting the search for a court case to access those records that are available.
5. Property tax records
Counties within each state maintain searchable databases containing the names and addresses of individuals making tax payments on real property located within the county.
Finding someone requires patience and commitment. Doing a people search free online can be an effective and efficient way to locate someone.