Whether it's due to a falling out or simply because of distance, many American families have a tough time staying connected. Whether you are looking for a long-lost uncle or a child with whom you've lost touch, the internet can be a great source of information when it comes to reconnecting.
Ask other family members if they've heard from the person you are trying to locate. Even if you haven't kept in contact, other family members may have. If they don't know the person's current whereabouts, ask for information like his last known address, phone number or place of work.
Follow the leads you got in Step 1. Start online at a free directory like WhitePages.com. You can search for a person based on name, city, state or phone number. Keep in mind that if your family member has a common name, you may find multiple results in the same city.
Look for your family member on social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. These sites are both free, and allow users to search for a person by name and even location. You must be a registered member to use all the search tools and access all the information on a person's profile.
Google the person's name. The more specific the name (including first, middle, last and maiden names), the more accurate your search results will be. Remember that you may get hundreds, even thousands of hits, and will have to sort through the results.
Sign up with websites like Ancestry.com and Genealogy Today. Ancestry.com is a fee-based service, but offers a 14-day free trial. Genealogy Today offers free search services, as well as other tools that you can pay to access. These websites will help with your self-guided search.
Don't forget about non-computer based tools. Newspapers--particularly the sections on birth, death and marriage records--can help you find out information on your missing family member. This tool will only work if you have an idea where the person lives, as it is impractical to search every newspaper in the country.
Contact the IRS to see if there are any active records for your missing family member's social security number. While the IRS cannot supply specific information, they may be able to let you know if your missing loved one has passed away.