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Whether your brother or sister was adopted at a young age, or you simply lost a family member’s contact information over time, there are plenty of reason why you may want to find a missing relative. You may be able to pull up contact information for a long-lost relative online and get back in touch with them. The method you use to find them will depend on what information you currently have about them and what you want to know. Here are a few key tips that will help you track down missing parents, siblings and other relatives.

List All the Information You Have on Them

A good starting point in any search is to make a list with all the existing information you have regarding the person in question. This can include their name, date of birth and any addresses, phone numbers or email addresses you’ve had for them.

Note that even seemingly unimportant or general pieces of information may be just what ends up being able to track a person down by their name. For example, if the person had a username that they would use frequently, they may still be using it, allowing you to find profiles of theirs with more information. And even if you don’t have a full previous address for them, a city alone can help.

Check Social Media First

Social media works well for tracking down family members because if you find one of their profiles, you’ll have a simple way to contact them and reconnect. There’s also less potential pressure and awkwardness involved than if you found their phone number and called them out of the blue.

The social networks to check out, ranked in order of how likely you are to find someone on them, are as follows:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Twitter

Facebook ranks at the top because it has the highest number of users and the most search options. You can enter a person’s name on Facebook, and then filter your search results by any of these options:

  • Cities where they’ve lived or currently lived
  • Previous or current employers
  • High schools or colleges they’ve attended

Instagram and Twitter are also popular, but not as popular as Facebook, and they don’t have as many search options. Of the two, Instagram has more users, ranking it in second.

You may also want to check out LinkedIn. This can be hit or miss because you’re only able to view people within a certain number of connections from you.

Try a Background Check Site for More Info

Let’s say you don’t have any luck on social media, or you simply want more information on the person. Perhaps you want to find out where someone lives and get an actual address, not just a city. A background check site can help with that.

With FreeBackgroundCheck.org, you can look up detailed background reports on just about anyone. The default search option is a name search, where there are fields to enter the following:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • City (optional)
  • State (optional)

Entering a city and state, if you have those, can narrow down your results, especially for people who have common names. There are also phone number, address, email address and license plate search options.

When you’ve located your family member on the results, you can view the report on them. This can include all kinds of info, including current and previous addresses, their phone number and much more.

Search Engines May Help if You Have the Right Search Terms

One of the first places people often look when they’re trying to find someone is a search engine, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the results. Unless the person you’re looking for has a fairly unique name, you’ll need more than just their name to get information about them.

This is where that list you made earlier can help. Start combining their full name with other keywords from the information you gathered, such as cities, addresses, their date of birth or an old username. You’ll be much more likely to find something about them this way, such as a personal website, a social media account you couldn’t find earlier or a news story about them.

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to find a family member would be to reach out to the rest of the family and see if anyone knows what happened to them, but sometimes it can seem like a person has fallen off the face of the earth. That’s when it helps to know how to locate someone using the internet.

Any of the methods above may work, which means it’s all a matter of trial and error. Give each of them a try and put together the information you have in different ways. Remember that with all the information that’s online, it’s possible to track down almost anyone these days.