Years ago, finding missing family members required making time consuming calls, searching through newspaper records, and directly appealing to government records offices for expensive photocopies. Now, the Internet provides many free and easy-to-use search options that can greatly increase your ability to track down both living and dead family members.
After you have assembled all of the information you have about the family member you want to find, try the basic, free White Pages search (see Resources). This search combs a database of reported phone and address information.
Zabasearch or Pipl (see References) are search sites that can often find more obscure information than the White Pages. These sources are also useful if you are not completely sure where the family member is located. Expect to spend a large amount of time sifting through information that might not be relevant to your search, especially if your family member's name is common.
Social networking websites such as Facebook and Linkedin (see References) are searchable by name, and both provide ways to narrow down the names you find by location. To use Facebook you will have to register and include your date of birth.
If you believe that your family member might be deceased, the Social Security Death Index can often verify the death and find the person's date of death (see References).
For best results, gather as much information about the individual as possible. Having the first, middle, and last name, as well as date of birth, can help you to get the best and most accurate information.