Throughout the course of our lives, there will inevitably be those with whom we lose touch. While there is seemingly no shortage of services offered for finding people, many of them can prove to be quite costly. This is especially true if the first few that you try fail to procure any results, as you still have to pay for services rendered. There are, however, more economically viable options out there that are free of charge, as long as you know where to look.
Gather all of the information that you can on the person you are trying to locate. The more you have, the better the odds are that you will find him. Some basic things that are helpful to know include social security number, last employer, last known address and full name. Additional information can include hobbies or memberships in organizations.
Use the largest and most common search engines. Be mindful of how common the subject of your query's name is. You may need to look a little harder if, say, you are looking for a John Smith. Be persistent. However, it's also helpful to plug in other known information about him next to his name at this point, such as a job title or an civic organization. For example, "John Smith, Freemason."
Check the phone book. Look for his name as you remember it. Be mindful of minor name changes. For instance, Steven might now be Steve. Or, he could go by his middle name. This is where knowledge of his last known address could come in handy. Regardless, don't be shy when it comes to making cold calls to ask around. As long as you are brief and polite, you should be fine.
Search newspaper data bases. If you are know the person's interests and organizations, this will help narrow your search. Simply look for the news outlet's coverage of related events. A somber last resort, of course, is the obituary section. Ideally, your search won't end there.
Contact those who may be in contact. Follow her trail by inquiring amongst those who may have last seen her. Employers, neighbors and mutual acquaintances are useful for this. They may not know her current whereabouts, but they could know someone else who does.
Use social networking websites. More and more people are joining them these days. Search tools are relatively easy to use, even if certain information is missing.
Place a notice on a free classified ad website. This is perhaps the longest shot, given that you are counting on the fact that she will stumble across your ad. But since it's free, it's worth a shot since you can re-post at your leisure, as often as you like.
- search and magnifier buttons. (with clipping path) image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com