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It’s sad when you have family members that you don’t know how to contact. Maybe your family member was adopted, or perhaps they just moved away and lost touch with the rest of the clan.

The good news is that there are several ways you can find a long lost relative, even if it has been years or decades since you last saw them. Here are the tips you’ll need to track them down.

Collect All the Info You Have

Start by putting together a document with everything you know about this family member. It’s good to collect everything before you start trying to find a family member, because otherwise, you could waste time on fruitless searches before remembering a key piece of information that helps.

Here are some ideas on what to include on your list, should you remember them:

Remember that you never know what piece of information will be the key to finding them, therefore it’s good to jot down as much as possible. If you have any previous phone numbers or email addresses for the family member, you can obviously try using them to see if you get in touch with them or someone who knows where they are.

After you’ve collected this information, you can use it in conjunction with any of the next three methods.

Run an Online Background Check

An online background check is a great way to find out where someone lives and how you can get in touch with them. There are many directories that aggregate people’s information from public records, social media and other sources. You simply enter the information you have into the directory, and it will return any matching results.

The best option for this is FreeBackgroundCheck.org, which allows you to search for your lost family member by their name, phone number, address, email address or do a license plate lookup. Once you input the information and run your search, the site will show you any records that match. If there are multiple results, you can comb through them to see if your family member is there.

Search for Social Media Profiles

Considering how prevalent social media is nowadays, it’d be a mistake if you didn’t use it for some searches. Even people with very little information about themselves online have often set up social media profiles and even have hidden dating profiles too.

Start with the social media network that fits your family member’s age range and interests most. For example, if they’re on the young side, you may want to search on Instagram first, because that network’s audience skews much younger than Facebook or Twitter. Regardless of where you start, go through all the major social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn) until you hopefully find your family member.

Try Different Keyword Searches

Don’t underestimate the power of Google. In some cases, a simple keyword search will turn up more information than any other method. Here’s the best way to use search engines to find someone:

  1. Try a search by the person’s full name first, unless they have a very common name and even search someone by maiden name. If they do, move on to step two.
  2. Try combining the person’s full name with specific keywords that include tidbits of information on them. For example, you could combine their name with the city where you think they live or their name with their date of birth.
  3. Comb through the results and record any useful information you find.

Conclusion

It’s natural to want to get back in touch with a family member or to introduce yourself to a family member who you never got to meet. You just need some sort of contact information to do it, and that’s where taking the right approach online can make all the difference. With any luck, you’ll find what you need to get in touch with a loved one.