It’s happened dozens of times: an old friend flashes across your mind while you’re making dinner, merging on the highway or attempting to focus on your quarterly presentation. You haven’t seen your friend in decades, but suddenly you have a feeling that it’s going to drive you crazy until you find out what happened to your 2nd grade bestie or your junior high crush. If a social media search proves unsuccessful, you don’t have to live with the nagging curiosity — you can turn to a background search to find your answers.
Why are you so determined to find out what happened to your old friend? Sometimes, it’s about checking to see if that friend your mom insisted was “bad news” really did end up living a life of sex, drugs and rock ’n roll. It might be because you always sensed that that nerdy-but-cute guy would end up the head of a major corporation. It might be just because you’re bored and curiosity is leading you to do a little research.
A background search can be helpful, and not only for filling in the gaps and learning where a friend ended up. You can also use it as a way to make contact. Maybe you always regretted losing touch with a good friend you knew in early high school, or perhaps you heard through the grapevine that, like you, an old flame is now single. A background search can help you connect the dots and set up a reunion.
It’s also a safe way to check things out when a friend wants to reconnect. If you had a friend mention that your high school boyfriend asked about you the other day and wondered if you might like to get together, it may feel safer if you have an idea of what he’s currently doing. For instance, if you’re a well-established and successful professional and a background search reveals the high school boyfriend has a history of fraud, it may be a red flag for you.
There are other reasons to do a background search. You may have heard rumors that a friend who doesn’t use social media has recently received an award. You might like to track them down to congratulate them. If you heard through the grapevine that their spouse passed away suddenly and feel strongly that you’d like to send a card, a background search may help you get a current address.
What You Need to Conduct a Background Search: To get started, simply write down everything you know about your friend. Include their first and last name, their birthday if you happen to remember it, as well as addresses and family members. If you knew that at one point they were employed by AT&T or that they went to a particular university, those are good details to jot down.
Once you’ve written down every detail you can remember about your contact, you can conduct a background search. Many sites will allow you to simply plug in as much information as you can, and it will search based on that data.
Be Ready to Get Beyond Google. Many people begin with a Google search, but it’s often a dead end. It may list several matches with the name you entered, with none representing the person you’re trying to track down.
Instead, there are sites dedicated to helping you conduct a background search, tapping into the resources at many different agencies and online sites to compile a profile of your friend. Through a targeted background search, you can learn addresses, as well as any court and criminal history, employment background, education and online activity.
It’s important to keep in mind that when you do a background search, you may run across some information that doesn’t give you the full story. For instance, if a person is under investigation, or if there’s an arrest and indictment but there’s no conviction, you won’t have access to the details, and you may never know how the situation was resolved.
Even so, you should still engage in a background search, because a specialized site can give you a clearer idea of who a person has become and whether or not you want to reinvest in the connection.
Fill in With Social Media. Of course, you’ll need to send a friend request to get full access to a person’s profile, but depending on their privacy settings, you can learn a lot about the person on Facebook or another social site. For instance, if you see that a background search turns up a set of addresses that are a bit confusing, you can check out Facebook to see how pictures and other details line up for figuring out addresses. If you can’t tell if they are currently living in Florida or Michigan, a quick perusal of their pictures can help solve the mystery.
Just remember that people don’t always tell the whole truth on social media. It’s always a cleaned-up version and isn’t always a true representation of what’s happening in real life. For instance, think about whether you would post about your divorce, your bankruptcy or even a sick child. Social media can give you some clues, but be sure to proceed with caution and use it to supplement, not replace, a full background search.Ready to do some digging? Take your curiosity straight to DirtSearch, where our resources will help you locate your long-lost friend from elementary school or that cute biology major that sat next to you in lab during college. Find out what everyone’s been up to with a quick and easy background search through resources on DirtSearch.