How to become an Expert Internet Detective in 10 easy steps.
Here is a Quick Start Guide to conducting basic (and mostly free) internet research of a person, business or organization.
1. Do a GOOGLE (or BING or Duck Duck Go) search using the person or entity’s name. Search the name along with the name of the town or city and state where they are located to narrow down your results. Make sure you have the correct spelling.
Here are additional tips and techniques to get the best results:
You can also do a reverse image search. If you have an image, you can use reverse image search tools to find other instances of the same image online and thus obtain more information.
2. Next, do a Google search of the person or entity’s email address(es). This is a search technique that is often overlooked but can be very fruitful. You can also look up a telephone number to trace it or verify it.
3. Check a People Search Engine. Look for connections between the person you are investigating and other people or organizations. This can help you uncover additional information about the person’s background and activities.
4. Find the person or entity’s social media accounts. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn are the big ones, but there are many others. Search via official names and also via nicknames and “handles.”
5. Look up Federal and State COURT RECORDS for criminal convictions, evictions, civil lawsuits, name changes and bankruptcies, etc.
6. Check the appropriate Recorder’s Office for property records and any recorded documents such as tax or other types of liens.
7. Check the appropriate CORPORATIONS databases (generally maintained by the Secretary of State for each State) for corporate officials and filings. Non Profits can be researched further on the IRS website. Check for UCC filings. Also check local and state databases for business licenses.
8. Check Professional Licensure. There are online directories available for many types of professionals, including lawyers, doctors, and real estate agents. You can use these directories to verify professional credentials. Also – you may want to verify college or graduate degrees.
9. Research websites. Check the WhoIs registration. Also be sure to check the Wayback machine. This type of search may be getting “into the weeds” but it is very helpful to find out if the website (or person or entity affiliated with it) is fraudulent.
10. Check Newspaper Archives and Genealogy databases such as Ancestry.com to find a wide variety of information.
TIP: Make sure you ascertain the person’s birth date and middle initial in order to verify records. Many people have similar names. Many businesses and organizations also have similar names.
NOTE about Personal References. Often, the very best way to find out about a person, business or organization is to talk to someone who is familiar with the person or entity and ask lots of questions.
WARNING: It’s important to note that internet research should always be conducted ethically and legally. It’s not acceptable to use online research to harass, intimidate, or harm someone, or to engage in any illegal or unethical behavior.