How much do you really know about that potential new hire? Does your daughter's fiance have a hidden past? And what's the scoop with the new neighbors?
A few years ago, answering these questions would have been difficult. Now the Internet puts the answers at your fingertips.
Personal information is readily available from many online sources. It just takes a little know-how and creativity to find it. Links to these sites are at www.komando.com/news.
START WITH GOOGLE
Your first stop should be Google. Enter the person's name and you may find a phone number and address. You'll also find sites and blogs containing information on your subject.
Google works best if the person has an unusual name. Common names return thousands of results. You can narrow results by adding location, occupation and interests.
DO A BACKGROUND CHECK
If you need more background information, try ZabaSearch or InfoSpace. You'll find basic information like addresses and phone numbers.
These sites also link to comprehensive background information. That includes criminal history, lawsuits and more. You'll need to pay for these details, though.
Before you pay, check state and local courts, alumni associations and licensing boards. Many have free, Web-accessible databases. You can research qualifications and legal troubles.
But maybe you're interested in more personal information. Ultimately, this better reveals a person's true nature.
Social-networking sites are a rich source of personal information. People pour their personalities into their profiles. And you'll see their recent activities.
Start by searching popular sites like Facebook and MySpace. Use the person's name. You may just find what you want.
If not, narrow the search by age and location. Failing that, search for the person's friends or associates. They may lead you to the person you're trying to find.
There are many more social-networking sites. So don't stop with Facebook and MySpace. Try social-networking search sites like Wink and Pipl.
They will help you sift through networking profiles. Each searches different sites with some overlap. You can access sites like MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. Additionally, Pipl searches the deep Web, pages not normally indexed by search sites.
You can also try Spock. It searches networking sites and the Web. You'll see related news stories and pictures from several sources. Additionally, you'll see the person's relationships to other people.
There's also Spokeo, a social-networking aggregator. It pulls your contact list from Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo. You'll get real-time news feeds of your contacts' activities. You're notified when contacts update their profiles.
TRY PROFESSIONAL SITES
To learn about business associates, try LinkedIn. It is a professional networking site. You can often find a person's detailed job history on LinkedIn.
Jigsaw provides professional contact information. You'll find names, titles, e-mail addresses and more. You buy contact information with points. Either purchase points or earn them by submitting others' contact information. There are millions of searchable records.
Want to learn about a person's home or their neighborhood? Try a real estate site like Zillow or Trulia. Enter an address to get an estimated value of the home. You'll also find demographic information on the neighborhood.
Don't forget to check sites that let you list things you like or want. What a person likes says a lot about them.
For example, de.licio.us stores links to a user's favorite sites. It's also designed to let users share links with others. To find out what someone has saved, you need a user name.
Amazon lets users create searchable wish lists in their profiles. On the home page, just click Gifts & Wish Lists. Search under "Find someone's wish lists."