Finding information about somebody used be an arduous, time-intensive task. Amatuer private eyes who wanted to see what secrets public records might hold had to go down to a state building and manually search through stacks of files. The process was time-consuming, and it sometimes took weeks before you finally nabbed the information you sought. Thanks to the Internet, however, you can now uncover just about anyone’s dirty laundry with nothing but a laptop.

Internet

If you want to see what secrets the Internet holds about somebody, or even yourself, use these four methods to sniff out the truth.

1) Google Their Name

Sure, Googling their name is obvious, but it’s still a powerful way to get a lot of information. You can see if they were even mentioned in newspapers, websites, and see what social media accounts they might have. However, you have to be careful about this technique if the object of your sleuthing has a fairly common name. Otherwise, you might think you dug up a really juicy tidbit on them, when really it was another person with the same name. To narrow down your search, put quotation marks around their name and add the city they live in (like this: “Craig Smith” Houston). This may help you get more accurate results. To make the more sophisticated search functions even easier, use Google advanced search.

2) Perform A Background Check

Contrary to what they want you believe, Google doesn’t have all the answers. When you want to dig deeper, you will have to turn to public records in order to get more detailed information. Criminal records, date of birth, known addresses, and other sensitive details are available to anyone who wants to discover them, as long as you are willing to do an online background check. A service like Instant Checkmate can do the legwork for you by searching through major public records databases and providing you with instant results. You can search through as many names as you like and download the reports as PDF files.

3) Check Their Political Leanings

Where exactly does your subject fall on the political spectrum? What are their pet political causes? Do they put their money where their mouth is? Since political donations can be easily discovered through the Federal Election Commission’s Disclosure Data Search, you can see if someone likes to donate to liberal causes, conservative causes, or causes that lie somewhere in between. Information includes the political organization your subject donated to, the exact amount, and the date of the donation. It even includes money donated to specific political campaigns.

4) Search Sex Offender Registries

Do you suspect that someone is on the sex offender registry? Find out by checking the FBI’s collection of sex offender registry websites. Just select the state the person lives in, and search their name. If they were convicted of a sex crime and were required to register, their name, picture, and current address should all be listed.

Do YOU have any additional tips for the Internet detectives out there? Let us know in the comments!

Julian Moore is a blogger living in Melfa, Virginia. He writes about online research, social media, and the Internet.