By Rachel Kronenfeld, Manager of Investigations – Hetherington Group
In 2020, we have no shortage of online resources for locating people and companies. In the past decade, most states and counties have adopted online databases for anyone to access public records. For over a decade, social media users have been oversharing personal information on company platforms. While some fee-based resources have been around since the 1970s, other major players launched only in the past decade. These fee-based resources now have thousands of competitors—all with reliable information and sometimes available for free.
In this 2-part blog series, we explore the best of the best search engines to locate people and companies. This week, we review people search engines.
In 2020, using Google—with tenacity—to locate where a recent new acquaintance, or an executive, or a celebrity resides can be productive thanks to the growing number (currently over 200) of available online people search engines collecting data from public records. These sources may not be as reliable as fee-based data providers (Tracers Info, IDI Core, or their competitors). Free people search engines do not have access to as many data sources—and most allow you to opt out your information. However, with so many engines readily available, searching across several and comparing the information will help you get a more clarified picture. If you do not have access to fee-based resources due to legal restrictions, budget restraints, or your company’s ethics policy, you are likely already using the free people search engines (Intelius, BeenVerified, MyLife, among them). Searching in these online engines will provide cities and states of residence for free, and quite possibly full residential addresses as well for free. This is a valuable differentiator. Below are the top free people search engines for finding full residential addresses. Be aware that the address may be current, dated, or may belong to a relative, but typically the address is in some way connected to the person you are looking for.
Whitepages has been an established people search engine for over a decade. According to its website, Whitepages contains contact information for over 275 million people nationwide. It also provides data to 411.com, Dexknows, emailsearch.com and switchboard.com. Whitepages has both free and premium search results. A subscription is needed to view premium search results—which results include phone numbers. We have found, however, the free search results to offer up most of the people we searched for, and those results show a full address.
Established in 2014 and claiming to have over a billion public records in its nationwide database, ThatsThem is a completely free people search engine. Beyond a full address, ThatsThem also offers possible phone numbers, email addresses, and even IP addresses. ThatsThem provides a link out to BeenVerified to purchase a background with more information. Without purchasing, we can still see plausible net worth, education, and occupation information for free.
According to its website, Nuwber contains 250 million profiles in its dataset. It offers full address information as a part of its free search results. Date of birth (rather than simply listing an age) can sometimes be found, too. Nuwber indicates on its homepage when its information was last updated—which, from experience, seems to be once every few months. Nuwber also has a paid subscription service, which claims to provide more detailed information.
Canada411.ca people search directory contains full residential listing information for free derived from published telephone listings in Canada. The data is updated on a monthly basis. For verification, you can request (for free) a copy of the residential directories in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa-Gatineau, and Quebec City.
192.com people search directory for Britain contains full residential information derived from the Electoral Roll for the UK since 2002. Anyone living in the UK needs to be registered in the Electoral Roll, so this makes for a white-pages directory of actionable information.
Disproportionate but well-defined
There is a plethora of online resources for finding people and companies; the above list is by no means an exhaustive one. However, it aims to prove that not all sources should be considered equal. It is important to understand where information is coming from, its limitations, and all the search options available to get the best results. So, in 2020, we encourage you to spend some time getting to know the resources you have been collecting over the past decade— and their competitors even more so.
Are you an analyst or investigator looking for advanced training on online open source tools and techniques? Hg’s webinar series, where you can attend live and recorded sessions and receive CEUs to beef up your OSINT skills.
Rachel Kronenfeld joined Hetherington Group in 2016 and is Hg’s Manager of Investigations and lead investigator. As a skilled and diverse analyst, she monitors current events and information on the Internet, identifies security threats, and conducts online risk assessment analyses for Hg’s clients. Ms. Kronenfeld conducts trainings for investigators and is a contributing writer to Hg’s newsletter, Data2Know. Her professional research specialty is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) techniques.