If you’re trying to find someone, a website specializing in public records – also known as a “people finder” – is a great way to do it. The best people finder companies are typically going to charge something for their service, but there are times when you can use a people finder for free to get certain types of information.
Intuitively, it would seem that people finder companies should be free (or close to it) because most of the information they contain are public records – records that are available to anyone. While it’s true that most (though not all) of the information that people finders use are from public records, just because something is public doesn’t make it free to acquire.
There is typically a charge per record – and sometimes the cost of just one record is more than what a competitive people finder company will charge you for a complete background check that includes a compilation of dozens of individualized records.
In addition, many public records are not available for distribution online, which means someone has to physically visit each courthouse and county registrar to gather the available records and transpose them in a digital database- a process that takes place daily at people finder companies so they can ensure their records are up to date.
Finally, there’s the process of matching each record with an individual so that – when a report is requested – every available record spanning across the Unites States is checked to ensure that everything related to the person is included. When you consider that one report is the result of scanning literally billions of what are often, at best, inconvenient to retrieve records, it’s easy to see what makes a good people finder worth the money.
With all that said, however, it is possible to glean some information for free based on the work the people finder companies have already gathered. The reason people finder companies can produce reports almost instantly is that the information is already compiled and ready to go. Consequently, many people finders offer free preview results based on a search using just a name and last known city/state. You can try one of these searches below:
As you can see, they give you quite a bit of information for free, including city and states lived in, relatives, etc. With this information, you can potentially start searching some of the truly free people finding resources our there, such as Facebook and other social media sites (check our our related posts below for more info).
Bottom line: People finder companies have done a ton of legwork and invested millions of dollars to get the information they have and they’re willing to give away a little bit of it, which might be enough to help you find the person you’re looking for.
Ultimately though, the teaser info they provide might be enough to convince you that it’s worth the $10 to buy a comprehensive background check. In addition to current address and phone numbers, you’ll also receive things like marriage/divorce records, criminal records and more, so it might just be worth your while.