How to Find Background Information on People for Free

by Colleen Collins

Seems everywhere you look on the Internet, some service is offering to find background information on someone for a fee. A lot of these services are automated database brokers that buy their information elsewhere, so who knows how relevant or current the data is (and there's no "live" person to interpret the search results, either). Instead of spending your money, instead try some free background searches.

Confirm a person's address. Enter the person's name and city in whowhere? (see References, below) and press the "Search" button. The results display all addresses associated with that name and city, including a link to Neighbors (click on this link for a list of neighbors' names and addresses).

Search the national sex offender database. Go to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (see References, below). Read the Conditions of Use and click the "I Agree" button. On the page that displays, enter the code and press the "Continue" button. On the search page that next displays, enter the person's first and last names and press the "Search" button (results show any instances of the name in sex offender registries for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Indian Country).

Scan social networking sites. Go to Whoozy (, enter the person's first and last names, and press the "Search" button. Results show instances of the name and photographs in such sites as Twitter, Facebook,, MySpace, and others.

Check federal inmate records. Go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator (see References, below), enter either an inmate ID number or a first and last name, then click the "Search" button. Results show all federal inmates incarcerated from 1982 to the present.

Research a person's name and associated information through online news. Go to Mool Media Search Engine (, enter the person's first and last names, then press the "Search" button. Mool searches through 4,500 online media, including newspapers, national magazines, and broadcast sources.

About the Author

In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.

Photo Credits

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