Tips for Finding a Missing Person

After a very difficult year, you might find yourself thinking about the empty place setting at your Christmas dinner table. 

Perhaps it’s an old friend, who you were once very close to but you’ve lost touch over time. Or maybe it’s a family member, someone who has drifted away or even stopped getting in touch after an argument years ago. No matter the reason or the person, if there’s someone missing from your life, it can be a difficult feeling to get past.  

How to Track Down a Long Lost Friend or Relative

However, with the internet at your fingertips, there are things you can do to trace and locate a missing person yourself. If your missing person has simply moved away, or changed their phone number, you might be surprised how easy it is to find them. But if the person you’re looking for doesn’t want to be found, has changed their name or even moved abroad, you might find it more tricky. 

Of course, you can hire a professional, like the team at Delta 74 Private Investigations, who offer a fixed ‘no find, no fee’ service for just £180, but before you do that, we recommend a few quick tips to see if you find your person yourself. 

Before you get started:

Common Names 

If the person you are looking for has a common name, it is going to be very difficult to identify them among the many. For example, if your looking for Sarah Davies or Muhammad Hasim, you’re going to need significant additional information to filter down the results to find the person you’re looking for. 

Name Variations 

Check you have the right spelling. You might be searching for Rachel, when you should be searching for Rachael, or even Raychael! An incorrect spelling can hinder your own investigations, so if you’re not sure, try all the common variations before giving up looking. 

Married Names 

If the person you’re looking for has got married and changed their name, or changed their name for another reason, you’re going to struggle to find them without their new name or additional information. 

Social Media 

As of mid 2020, there were 2.7 billion active users on Facebook, which is the biggest social network worldwide. Of course, Facebook also offers its users privacy settings, so even if your missing person is on Facebook, you may not be able to find them directly. 

Try to connect with other old friends or relatives on social media. Send some messages and look through their friend’s lists. You might get lucky and find the person you’re looking for is still in touch with their old hairdresser or work colleague. This won’t take you long, and might not amount to anything, but it’s always a worthwhile starting point. 

And don’t forget about other social sites that you might not use, such as LinkedIn, Tik Tok or SnapChat. 

Get Your Facts Straight 

Collect together all the information you have about the person, for example: 

  • The person’s full name, maiden name, middle names, etc. 
  • The person’s date of birth (or, at least the year of birth)
  • The school, college and university they attended
  • Their career or profession 
  • Previous jobs and past employers 
  • Their family name and the names of relatives 
  • Past addresses, or areas you know they resided 
  • Hobbies or sports they played 

How to Google Properly

You’ve probably tried a Google search for the person already, but did you know about the advanced search options? Searching for the name and combining it with some of the above information may turn up new results. 

There are a few tricks you can do to make your search more effective: 

Search Engine Variations 

  1. Using quotation marks around your search term will ensure an exact match search, for example: “John Harris” instead of John Harris. This means Google will search for that exact phrase in that order, and not return similar, related, or close match search results which could muddy the water of your search. 
  2. Another exact match search you could try is “John” “ Harris”, which will return all of the above results, but if the person you’re searching for has a middle name that you don’t know, this way of searching will show you results that include “John” Andrew “Harris”.
  3. Reversing the names and searching for “Harris, John” may show you the person’s name listed in any official capacity. For example some councils or academic institutions record surnames first and given names second. 
  4. Again, in an official capacity, the person’s first name may be recorded simply as an initial, so you should try “J. Harris” and, as above, “Harris, J.”
  5. Using an asterix in search queries will allow you to leave a space in your search term that Google can fill in if it discovers more information: for example “John * Harris”. 


Google Alerts 

If you’ve tried all of the above, and you’re having no luck, you can set up a Google Alert that will notify you if anything new is published online containing the person’s name. 

Do you give up yet?

Don’t give up! Finding a long lost friend or relative is not always easy, but if you care about them, it is almost always worth the effort. Despite all the free resources available on the internet, if you’ve tried everything you can think of, perhaps it’s time to call in the experts. 

The professional people tracing team at Delta 74 Private Investigations have years of experience tracking down and locating missing people, and have access to many more resources and databases. 

Simply give us a call today to find out more, and you might find yourself starting a new year, with an old friend. 

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