How to Look Up Free Information on People

By Lottie Goff

The vast supply of public records, the availability of Internet databases and information on social networking sites makes finding people's information easier than ever. Most research can be done over the Internet, but more information is also available by searching local sources. Many websites will charge to do the same searches, but you can get the data yourself, going directly to the source: county and city records.

Things You'll Need

  • Name of person of interest
  • Date of birth or approximate age of person
  • Computer
  • Internet connection

Free public information

Step 1

Start with the simplest information when researching a person of interest. If the person's exact age, city of residence and full name are not available, establish those before looking further for criminal, legal or other records.Type the name into any Internet search engine. Include state. This will begin to narrow down the city and site of employment. If the state is unknown, try searching for the name and any known facts, such as profession, hobbies or high school or college. This will generate some basic information to begin deeper searches. The key to finding many useful government records is to know the county. If you know address or city, but not county, look this up. The most accurate source is the United States Census Web site. If you type a city, the census information will give the county; thus, you will know where to start your searches.

Step 2

Find out if the person is a property owner through searching property records, which are always free to the public. Go to the website of the person's county and look for a link to property appraisal records. In some states, this is available under a separate government website, such as an appraisal district's site. In others, the information is in the county tax office. Not all tax offices put these records online, so it may be necessary to call the office or visit to look through records. These will reveal the date of home purchase, its estimated worth, the address and basic information about the property, such as square footage.

Step 3

Call the local police department once you have the address to gain further insight. Ask for the records department and explain you need all available reports onthat address. They may require you to complete a records request, but the information is still public and provided upon request. Police reports can reveal phone numbers, ages, what types of incidents took place and the names of attorneys and acquaintances.

Step 4

Check to see if the person is in jail. Several websites track inmate populations, enabling you to make this verification. In most cases, you must know the particular county of incarceration.,

Step 5

Search county, civil and criminal records to find a legal track record. Look through the records at every county in which the person has resided, not just current information. To search these databases, first see if the county has civil and criminal records online through the county or district clerk's website. If they are online, you can determine if there are cases and their case numbers. That number will correspond with all the legal files associated with it, which can have a wealth of information. If the records are not online, it may require a call or visit to the office to search on your own. This information should always be free for review, although there are some charges for copies.

Step 6

Check for the person's name on sites such as Facebook, My Space, Linkedin and Twitter. Although profiles are often protected, it is possible to find the person's friends and gain whatever information is available to learn more. These sites can also give residence and work or education history, further helping the search for free public information.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you have the correct spelling of a person's name
  • Also search for the person's aliases and nicknames