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Introduction to Searching for People
For several months in 1997, I was allowed to work as an un-paid volunteer moderator for a forum called "the Internet Village Elders" that operates on The Internet Sleuth . The charter for the elders' forum was to offer an opportunity for seasoned information miners and other volunteers to post biographies and correspond with one another, concerning the process of searching the Internet for information.
Each of the "elders" made an effort to spend time answering inquiries in a related Forum called "Finding Information". There is still a service on the Sleuth that provides personal assistance to people who are learning how to find information -- or who need a specific reference and don't quite know how to go about locating what they need. The format is a bulletin board. The style is very informal. The reviewers try to provide polite answers for any question from anyone about finding anything in the Net. They also respond to private email inquiries. It's a challenging charter. Some good people have participated.
Of the questions that come up in the Research Forums at the Sleuth, the most common has concerned finding people on the Internet or off line: "How do I search for somebody using a Social Security number?" This article responds to such inquiries and provides resources.
"On the Net, you can't do a social security number search directly or for free. However, there are other free ways to locate many people. You can also gain access to relatively low cost search services through the Net."
This article is intended to tell you how to find people without going broke. As you read, please keep three disclaimers in mind:
There are good reasons to find another person, but sometimes it's not a good idea to indulge your curiosity. The balance between "my" individual right to personal privacy and "your" right as an injured party to locate a wrong doer is not always obvious. A lot depends on which end of the stick you're holding. The same is true if you want to find somebody you care about. Sometimes they don't want to be found. We must recognize that the compelling desire to find a person can be taken to extremes that become obsessional or dangerous. My purpose here is not to promote stalking. If you think you are being stalked, I'll do my darndest to help you put the offender in jail.
From such concerns, I find that I cannot simply "give you the answers" for becoming your own Private Investigator. I must also suggest that you examine your motivations as a reader. This process will require some of your valuable time. I urge you to think carefully about your objectives before you invade the privacy of another person. This isn't something you should do casually. Finding somebody can get you into legal trouble if you go about it wrong. It can cause you emotional trouble as well.
Go to "How Easy is it to Find Someone?"
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