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How to Find an Old Friend (2024 Guide)

clock Updated: 3 weeks ago

How to Find an Old Friend (2024 Guide)

Wondering how to find an old friend?

We all have friends who we have lost touch with as we move on in life. It could be a kind next-door neighbor, a childhood sweetheart, your BFF, a former colleague, or someone else who has crossed paths. At some point in your life, those old fond memories resurface and you’re eager to reconnect with them and perhaps learn how they have been all these years.

Lucky for you, with modern-day technology, tracing a long-lost friend is not as difficult as it used to be. Here in this article, I’m going to show you 5 methods for you to search for an old friend. Just read on…

Getting prepared: Compile a list of things you know about them

You may have painted the old friend in your mind over the years, but preparation is half the battle – you stand a better chance of tracking them down if you try to brainstorm and jot down things you remember or semi-remember about them. Even the smallest details matter – sometimes it is the most insignificant ones that lead you up to the right person!

Here I make a list of information that may be useful in jogging your memory. However, varying from person to person, some details may not apply:

  • First and last name, middle, maiden name, married name (Note: middle name, maiden name or married name may prove particularly useful if your friend shares a common name or switched their last name )
  • Approximate date of birth, age, and place of birth.
  • Names of their family
  • Mutual connections (This includes known friends, neighbors, coworkers, employers, or any acquaintances whom you have shared in local interest clubs or associations)
  • Old photos
  • Schools attended
  • Previous and current living addresses
  • Known employment institutions
  • Criminal charges or convictions
  • Known employers, and years of employment
  • If he/she has served in the military: unit served in, dates/locations of service, years active.

Once you have all the information in place, it’s time to get your trace started.

Method 1: Dedicated people search sites (Recommended)

Trying to locate a friend, especially one that you haven’t been in touch with for years, is an undeniable challenge. You can do it manually, but it entails a lot of searching, perusing, verifying, and a lot of running around in circles in between. If you don’t want to go through all the hoops and loops, you can try a people search tool, a search engine dedicated to people searching.

After a lot of testing, here are three people search engines I recommend:

Option 1 – BeenVerified (our favorite)

Option 2 – TruthFinder

Option 3 – Spokeo

Option 4 – PeopleFinders

Option 1 – BeenVerified (Our favorite)

BeenVerified is an all-in-one people search service that has people search, phone search, email lookup, address lookup, property lookup, and vehicle lookup in its repertoire. It allows you to search for a person via name, email address, phone number, social media username or physical address.

A detailed BeenVerified report contains the following information when available for a person:

  • Personal details
  • Contact info
  • Properties owned
  • Past and current addresses
  • Social media accounts
  • Marriage record information (spouse and children)
  • etc.

Here is how to use BeenVerified to search for a person:

  1. Go to BeenVerified official website.
  2. Enter the first name and last name of the prospect.
  3. You’ll also be prompted to provide the city and state information to refine the search(which speeds up the search). If you’re not sure, you can just leave them on.
  4. Wait for BeenVerified to search its billions of real-sourced public records and generate a report.

What customers are saying about BeenVerified:

“I will strongly recommend the site for people working on class reunions. My 60-year reunion is coming up and I am excited to know that there is now contact with long-lost classmates.” – Gregory

“Been Verified has put me in contact with so many people who were lost to me!” – Joel

Option 2 – TruthFinder

TruthFinder is another full-service people search engine that lets you go into full detective mode to find information on just about anyone. With TruthFinder, you can simply enter a person’s name to uncover their current and past addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, relatives, criminal records, social media profiles, and more.

Here is how to locate an old friend with the TruthFinder app:

1. Go to the TruthFinder Official Website.

2. Scroll down to the bottom, then tap on Google Play or App Store to download the app, depending on your specific device.

3. Open the app, then on the home screen,  choose a search method. Then enter the information and hit SEARCH.

4. Wait up to 30 seconds for TruthFinder to glean through the data sources and dish up a preview of possible matches. Scroll through and see if you recognize your friend.

5. To access a report, choose one of the membership options. When you find your friend’s most current contact info, you can reach out to reconnect through a call, text, email or even sending a message on social media!

The above image is from a sample TruthFinder report. Actual TruthFinder reports may contain more or less information.

What customers are saying about TruthFinder:

“Helped me find an old friend who had moved across the country and be able to gain address to stay in touch. Helps to find old friends, or check the veracity of someone whom you have just met.” – Kathy of Cincinnati, OH

“Found what I was looking for and was a great experience. I got all the information in a matter of minutes with a detailed report. Thank you TruthFinder. Customer Service was great. I give them an A+” – Ed of Warner Robins, GA


Option 3 – Spokeo

Spokeo is another powerful people search tool that allows you to search by phone, name, address, or email, then deliver to you an easy-to-understand report that contains personal information, social media (120+ social networks, Facebook included), marital status, business record, property records, etc. It’s all done in a jiff, and all searches are done confidentially – the people you look up will not have to know.

  1. Go to the Spokeo official website.
  2. Choose a way you’d like to search (name, email, phone, and address) and SEARCH NOW.
  3. You’ll then be prompted to pay a subscription for access to the report. If you are not ready to pay for the monthly or quarterly membership, you can opt for the $0.95 trial to give the service a whirl.

Option 4 – PeopleFinders

Right upon your search, PeopleFinders’ report provides you with a preview of basic information such as nicknames (alias), age, home addresses, and relatives so that you’ll have a rough idea of whether it is the person you’re trying to find before paying for the trial/subscription.

PeopleFinders is a powerful people finder that aims to provide you with fast, accurate, and hassle-free people lookup. Unlike Spokeo, which performs a broad search and then refines the results further, Peoplefinders allows you to fill in as much information as you have on hand, such as city, state, and age range, and before you know it, you’ll be served the exact contact information you want in one go.

Here is how to use Peoplefinders to trace a person (amongst other relevant information)

  1. Go to PeopleFinders.com.
  2. In the Name tab, fill in the information you have about the individual you’d like to track down and hit Search. The more information you provide, the quicker you may be to trace the information (If you’re not sure, just leave it empty).
  3. Immediately, PeopleFinders will dish up a report of present address, past location as well as other information pertinent to the person you search.

Method 2: Mutual contacts

This should be a no-brainer. Look at your list of key information and circle the names of the people with whom you can get in touch, then make contact. Ask them questions about whether they have last seen them, spoken with them, or whether they could give you information such as a home address, telephone number, social media account, or phone number that you can use to contact them.

You can start from the most familiar and the closest relations you can reach out to, all the way to the ones you’re less connected to, or who could give you less information.

For example, if you can get in touch with a mutual friend, his/her parents, siblings, neighbors, or close relations, by all means, just make the connection. Most of the time, they will direct you to the right person or provide clues that point to the result.

You may have to combine this method with the rest of the methods in the post. For example, if you happen to know of a sibling of your long-lost friend but don’t know her phone number, you can try a people finder tool to help you acquire the information.

Method 3: Social media

Social media are created to connect people and it does the job beautifully: when you first signed up to social media, you were most likely asked to provide your name, date of birth, school, college, university, or places you worked or were working at the time. So without a doubt, you can use information like this to run searches on these networks.

Finding old friends by searching name, email address, schools or workplaces on Facebook

Despite being deemed as a platform for “old people”, Facebook has a whopping 2 billion users per month, which is one of the largest social networking sites on the earth.

  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. On the upper left corner of your screen, type your old bud’s name in the search bar and then hit Search.
  3. Facebook will give you matching results. If it’s more than one contact, you will have to scroll one by one to see if you can find the one you need.

In the same vein, you can search

  • your friend’s email address,
  • the names of the schools he/she had once attended,
  • the companies they have worked for,
  • your friend’s friends/family/relatives

to see if there are any clues. And if there are any groups, join them and chances are you may be put in touch with someone who can help.

If you are someone who’s not leaving stones unturned, you can even post on Facebook – this is what Facebook is for!

Similarly, you can run your searches on other social media networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Tumblr. The steps are more or less the same. One search may not dish up the desired result, so you may have to try one after one, and then scroll through the profiles & posts. If it’s not the person, rack your brains and try searching with other information until you determine it’s the person you’re after.

Read more: How to find someone’s Facebook

Method 4: Web search engines

Google needs no introduction. The web search engine giant does not just pull data from hundreds of social media sites but also index billions and billions of queries and information that have been public available. So long as your old companion has an online presence, Google searches may just give you the answer.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to refine your search for a missing friend.

  • Wrap the name of the person you’re searching in quotation marks (e.g. “Justin Timberlake”). By doing this, you’re telling the database to return results that match the exact phrase.
  • Add a couple more criteria to narrow your search (otherwise you might be presented with a glut of information). Details include email address, schools, spouses, children, occupation (as been mentioned above).

Again, unless your old buddy has risen to prominence, one single search will not yield up the result. So you may have to be patient and inventive with your search.

If you’re greeted with “It looks like there aren’t many great matches for your search“, it means that Google cannot find a result for your search. You could either try other combinations, or it’s possible that your friend hasn’t left a trail on public platforms, hence you may not be able to track him/her down in this method.

Google’s reverse image search allows you to search a person by photo. So if you have got hold of a photo of your friend’s, you can upload it to see if the same photo appears in other websites or platforms.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Go to Google reverse image search.
  2. Click the camera icon.
  3. You can click to paste the URL of the image or upload the photo from your computer. Once the photo has been uploaded, click Search by image.
  4. See if Google returns to you the same or similar photos. Then click on each link to see if you can trace down the source of the photo.

Method 5: Niche finding networks

In most cases, you will find answers to your search with the above-listed methods. But in case you want to find an old veteran, look for alumni, or just a regular old friend who doesn’t seem to have an internet presence, you can try your luck at the following niche-finding networks.

Looking for an alumni?

  • Alumni directories – Your high school or university may have associations, social media groups, email contact lists, or directory books that allow you to contact alumni. You can reach out to these connections or consult your directory book to see if you can get hold of your schoolmate.
  • Alumni.net is one of the largest alumni networks across the US. Founded in 1994, the website has categorized the networks into school networks and professional networks, with most of them spawning sub-networks of their own. So it’d be a good place to find your fellow alumni. Some of the biggest networks include Florida State University, Michigan State University, University of California at Berkeley, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technology State University.

Looking for someone who has served in the military?

  • military.com If you’re looking to contact your old military buddy or your friend has been in the military, you can try military.com > Buddy Finder. The service has millions of military records in its database, which may be helpful in your quest for old comrades.

Looking for a long-lost friend?

  • lostfriends.org is a non-commercial community aimed at helping people find lost connections. If you’re looking for someone, you will need to provide information about the person in question, as well as your own personal information, then submit so that the notice will be published sitewide on lostfriends.org.

Conclusion

Thanks to the internet, getting back in touch with old friends is not as challenging as it used to be. For the quickest result, you can use dedicated people search services such as BeenVerified, Spokeo, and PeopleFinders to track down a person and get a report of their other relevant information you might want to catch up with. Or, if you wish to do the search yourself, you can start by asking mutual contacts, trying social media, performing Google searches as well, and using a niche network.

With so many options available for tracking down an old friend online, we wanted to provide some guidance on the best services to use. Before making our recommendations, we went through a thorough testing and evaluation process to select the best people search sites to recommend…

For paid services like BeenVerified, Spokeo, and PeopleFinders, we evaluated based on accuracy, depth of information, ease of use, search options, value, and reputation. We performed multiple test searches on real individuals using different search filters like name, phone, email, etc. We also compared the details provided by each person across the different sites.

  • Accuracy of results – Do the search results reliably lead to finding the correct person you’re looking for? We tested search accuracy across common and unique names.
  • Depth of information – Does the search provide a comprehensive report on the individual with details like current address, phone numbers, emails, relatives, social profiles, etc?
  • Ease of use – Is the search interface intuitive and the results easy to navigate? Can you easily refine or filter searches?
  • Search options – Does the site allow searching by name, phone, email, username, address etc? More search filters means more ways to track someone down.
  • Value – Do you get access to sufficient record details without having to pay excessively? We looked for sites offering competitive pricing.
  • Reputation – We considered user reviews and overall reputation of each site. Higher customer satisfaction means a more reliable service.

Our top picks consistently produced more accurate matches and comprehensive reports covering details like current addresses, relatives, employment histories, criminal records, bankruptcies, properties owned, and social media profiles. They offer robust search capabilities while also being easy to use and competitively priced.

We also tested free search methods like Facebook, Google search, LinkedIn, and other social networks. These can provide basic public information on a person, but the results were inconsistent. Profiles and info may be limited or change over time. Paid services compile records from many sources into complete reports with reliable information.

Overall, through extensive hands-on testing, we found services like BeenVerified, Spokeo, and PeopleFinders to be the most comprehensive and reliable. But free options may also aid you in your search process when used together with paid searches. We will continue evaluating new options to provide the most up-to-date recommendations.

Image credits

City photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

exclamation-blueThere’s no guarantee you’ll find the information you’re looking for with the tools discussed in this article. They all source their information from publicly available data sources, such as county, state and federal courts, government departments, and police records, and those sources may contain incorrect or incomplete data. It’s illegal to use these tools to make decisions about employment, admission, consumer credit, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance. Read the Fair Credit Reporting Act to learn more....

About this article

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Meet Enya – a passionate content writer who loves crafting insightful and helpful articles. Since 2018, she's built a reputation as a reliable source of knowledge. She explores topics far and wide, from online dating and people search tools to new streaming platforms to identity theft protection services and the latest tech.

When researching, Enya digs in deep. She sees to it that every article is backed by first-hand testing, rigorous analysis, and/or thorough investigation. Her commitment to in-depth research and comprehensive testing ensures her articles deliver trusted guidance readers can count on.

Embracing both quiet and thrill, Enya is a reserved extrovert who happily cruises between me time and socializing. Outside of writing, you can find her soaking up sights and sounds, chilling with friends or lost in a good book.

Contributors

Glenn Murray

Customer Experience Director

About this article

round-success 232 Revisions

file-success Reviewed by BeenVerified

Enya Zhang

Writer

Meet Enya – a passionate content writer who loves crafting insightful and helpful articles. Since 2018, she's built a reputation as a reliable source of knowledge. She explores topics far and wide, from online dating and people search tools to new streaming platforms to identity theft protection services and the latest tech. When researching, Enya digs in deep. She sees to it that every article is backed by firs [...]

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Contributors

Glenn Murray

Customer Experience Director