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Recently my wife’s sister got curious about what had happened to her first husband after they split. That marriage had ended badly and they hadn’t been in contact for nearly thirty years. She tried searching for her ex-husband’s name on Google and Yahoo but didn’t get any hits. Knowing I do research online in my work as a professional writer, she asked if I could find out anything.

I write for business and technical publications, so I use a number of high-priced databases for in-depth research. But I suggested she try a simpler alternative – a solution I use myself when I want to find someone quickly and easily. I recommended she try one of the people search database services. Even the better ones cost so little, they’re practically free. Most offer a trial period. I gave her the name of one to try.

She was dubious. She’s not very comfortable using her computer for much more than email. Her stab at the search engines had already left her flustered. Now she was going to have to “sign up for something and learn something completely new… oh my goodness,” was the way she put it.

Yet, later the same day I suggested it, she emailed back excitedly. In just minutes, she’d found out all kinds of information about her ex. It turned out that he’d done something of a turnaround after they’d broken up. Their divorce resulted from fights over his serious drinking problem. After they broke up, though, he’d eventually gone back to med school, gotten his MD and become an orthopedic surgeon. He’d even been instrumental in developing some sort of device used by other surgeons in his field.

Unfortunately, the poor fellow had passed, but at least my sister-in-law found comfort in knowing that things had worked out for him after all. She remarked that even though their relationship ended in the worst imaginable way, it had started from a good point. She said she hadn't really wanted to contact him. She just wanted to know what had happened to him.

Sometimes all we want is just to satisfy our curiosity about what happened to someone we’ve lost track of. Most of us have an old friend or acquaintance we still wonder about.

It’s amazing how many people can go online all at the same time. One survey says the number can go as high up as 137 million, hackers and cyber-chatters included. The internet can therefore be a good source of information and a likely source of bogus schemes as well. I mean, if your neighborhood has its share of bad apples, isn’t the internet likely to have more?

But just because the internet is a convenient place to carry out phony plots, it still remains to be the fastest way to do a search. If you want to find people on the internet, be prepared for sites that will give you irrelevant data. While there are a lot of helpful links online, there are also those that do nothing but take you to immaterial sites.

In order to ensure that you are not going to be led to a wild-goose-chase when you find people on the internet, you have to weed out all these people finders. There are simple techniques that you can follow during your search. First, if you think that the person resides in a certain area, start your search there. Check out different phone directories online. If they don’t yield positive results, try using an old address that can provide you a name of a neighbor or the person who is living in the person’s previous home. These people may be able to give you a forwarding address or phone number.

One other technique is by using the householder or city directory. This is an outstanding tool when locating addresses. Most cities in the US have published this for more than 150 years. This not unlike telephone directories, but it gives out a more comprehensive information. When you are trying to find people on the internet and you make use of this tool, you are provided with the address, name, and employment information of each adult in the household. Libraries are generally the only place where the city directories can be accessible, but several of these are slowly inching their way towards the internet databases.

The school or college can be another source of information when you want to find people on the internet. Alumni associations and other organizations (school-related or not) may be able to offer some details about the person you are trying to find.

The social security number of the person is a powerful ID. But if you don’t know any of the details above, your quest to find people on the internet is not at all hopeless. The task may then be a more tedious one, but nonetheless, the internet is such a small place to play hide and seek in.



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