How to Investigate Someone in My Area

Updated March 21, 2017

There are many different reasons for wanting to know more about another person. Maybe you're curious about a new neighbour's background, concerned about complaints against a local business owner or want to know if the young man who lives up the street has set a wedding date. You can conduct free investigations online without leaving your home. Most of these searches are based on the name that you enter, so it's possible that you'll wind up with information about another person who shares that name, particularly if it's a common one. If you want a more thorough investigation into someone's background, you'll probably want to hire a private investigator.

Conduct a basic name search. Google--the world's largest Internet search engine--can be a useful tool to gather information. Go to the website, enter the person's name and city of residence and click on the "Search" button. Click on a link and read its contents for information about the person. Keep in mind that, while this search turns up online documents that include the person's name, there's no guarantee that it's the same person or that the information is correct.

Conduct a deep web search. Pipl is a free, deep Web search engine (meaning, its web crawlers find information many traditional search engines miss). The results display as links to online publications, business or social networking sites, news items and other sources where Pipl found that name. Click on a link or a photo and review the contents for more information about the person. Again, there's no guarantee that this information is accurate.

Check business profiles. Linkedin and Zoominfo list business professionals, their organisations, contact information and other information. Both sites let you search by a person's name.

Look up Better Business Bureau complaints. The BBB website lets you easily look up complaints against businesses by Postcode.

Search for weddings by state. If you're curious when a local couple is planning their big day, provides information by the name of the bride or groom. Results include both parties' names, the wedding date, ceremony and reception locations.

Check the national sex offender registration website. The Department of Justice operates the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, which lets you search sex offender registries nationwide or by individual states. Be aware that sex offender registries list where offenders are supposed to be living, but listings may be out of date.

Look up present or past inmates of the federal prison system at the Federal Bureau of Prisons website. You can check whether someone was incarcerated at a federal prison any time from 1982 to the present. You must know, at minimum, a person's first and last names for this search.

Hire a private investigator. If you want a more in-depth and reliable search of someone's background, retain a private investigator who can run a thorough criminal background search. To find an experienced investigator, contact your state's professional private investigator association.


To find the name of a person associated with an addressor vice versa--conduct a reverse address search at or (for the latter, select the "Reverse Lookup" option).

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About the Author

In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.