What kinds of information can be obtained using people search engines?
People search results vary but often include a person's full name, permanent address, past addresses, property ownership and mortgage records, employment history, criminal history, social media records, watercraft and airplane ownership records, professional and business licenses and accreditations, personal websites, and more.
How do I use people search engines?
Typically, users enter a search query using the name of a person along with any available and pertinent identifying information. Some people search engines, including PeopleSmart, also offer additional reverse search option. Using PeopleSmart's reverse search, users can enter an address, phone number, or e-mail to find the person associated with it, along with other background information if desired.
Who uses people search?
A wide range of people use people search engines for both personal and professional use. Users of people search engines are often looking to verify or expand their knowledge of a friend, relative, or co-worker. For example, someone trying to reconnect with a classmate who moved away years ago might run a people search to find out where he or she is now, or a vigilant father might use people search to make sure his daughter's new boyfriend does not have a criminal background. People search engines can be used for personal reasons, but cannot be used for pre-employment screening. For an FCRA-compliant, pre-employment screening service, visit GoodHire.com.
Where does the information in people search engines come from?
The information in people search engines is obtained from both governmental and non-governmental sources, including birth certificates, death certificates, census statistics, voter registrations, drivers licenses, utility companies, government spending reports, political campaign contributions, sex offender registrations, business and entity filings, professional and business licenses, criminal records, credit bureaus, real estate transactions, trademark filings, marriage licenses and divorce decrees, unsealed lawsuits or legal actions, online account registrations and profiles, and forum posts.
Do people search engines protect my privacy?
Although background reports may contain detailed personal information, responsible people search engines take the lead in protecting users' privacy rights. For example, privacy-minded users can take advantage of PeopleSmart's easy opt-out service to remove their information from the service. To further safeguard privacy, PeopleSmart does not provide full e-mail addresses. Instead, it offers users the ability to contact the person they searched through PeopleSmart. If the recipient wants to reply to the message, he or she can directly contact the PeopleSmart user. If not, the privacy of the recipient is protected and no further communication is allowed.
Why do I have to pay?
People searches are not free for a variety of reasons. People search websites organize and constantly update information from thousands of different sources. While some of the information provided by services like PeopleSmart can be obtained through public records requests, United States federal and state law regarding public records is complex, and people usually find that navigating through the bureaucratic maze is difficult and extremely time-consuming. For example, the website of Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records advises that most of the public record requests it receives are misdirected, and warns that misdirected record requests can result in a delay of 35 days. Next, it lists seventeen other offices that provide different types of public records. Some requests must be faxed, while others must be submitted in writing or online. While not all states are quite as closed as Pennsylvania, each state has its own bureaucratic structure that handles record requests. For most people, obtaining people search information from a provider like PeopleSmart is much more convenient and hassle-free.
Why can't I just use Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Google, etc.)?
While Facebook and other social media companies retain some people information, the information can often be inaccurate and incomplete. Anyone can create an account using any name without verifying user information. Also, information found on social media services is insufficient for many uses. Facebook might provide information about a person's daily life, but it is unlikely to tell you whether he or she has a criminal background. For those who need specific and accurate information on a particular person, social media may be inadequate.