Can You Find a Long-Lost Family Member Online?


You can, if you put your mind to it. You need reliable internet access and some free time to find a long-lost relative.  

Getting Started 

Gathering as much information about your lost relative is the first step in any search. Anything you can remember about them can help, but basic details like their data and place of birth are mandatory. Other possibly helpful details would be any hobbies or interests they had, a company they worked for, or memberships of any organizations. 

When gathering information, be consistent. You don’t need to spend hours and hours looking for them but do put in some effort daily. When you’ve exhausted one particular avenue, move on to another.  

Use a People Search Site 

After you enter any information you recall about them in a people search site like,you can expect additional details to surface. People search websites will comb the world wide web for anything with those details. They will check social media, blogs, and any other sites accessible for your family member’s name. Watch for any peculiar spellings, like Christine vs. Kristine. Add this town or state to the search if you suspect where they may be living now. 

Social Networks

Search Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. On Facebook, you can find them through other relatives, hometown, friends, high school, current location, or jobs. Use Facebook groups from colleges or high schools. If they were religious, you might get lucky with a spiritual group and reconnect with them.

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Niche Sites 

There are special networking sites that your relative might be a member of. You could explore those if you’re pretty sure about where they are and who they are likely to be or have become. One of these networking sites is BatchMates, a platform with a vast database of users with members from all over the world. You can search by name, place of birth, place of employment, etc. You can send other members messages through this site. 

Look at Court Records 

A people finder will check court records automatically as long as they’ve been made public. If you believe they might still be in the district, go to the local court’s site or the court in the jurisdiction where they last lived. The Department of Motor Vehicles’ website has a helpful tool to search court records in your state. You get a list of people with their names after entering it, and you can choose the right person from the list.    

Public Records

All you need is a full name to search public records. Their place of birth will help immensely. With this information, you can search for a marriage, a divorce, a name change, a prison record, or a death record. 

To access public records, you might need to get in touch with the National Center for Health Statistics. This is the primary health statistics provider in the country. Alternatively, try your local government’s health statistics service. 

Genealogy Sites

Many people looking for lost loved ones have gotten lucky using an online genealogy service. Sites like and have large info databases. They have helped siblings reunite and children find their biological parents. 

Trade Organizations

If you know what they do or did for a living, you could narrow down your search by perusing a relevant trade organization’s database. It might even show you their current place of employment.  

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Missing Persons 

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) is a state-funded project that lets civilians and law enforcement representatives add missing person cases. You can sign up with the platform and add your long-lost loved one’s case. It could help unless a lot of time has passed. Generally, the longer someone has been missing, the harder they will be to find, or the less likely they are to return. 

Any pictures you have of them might help, even non-current ones. As always, the more information you can provide, the easier it will be to identify them. 

Federal Bureau of Prisons 

If they’ve been through the prison system or were criminally inclined, the Federal Prison Bureau website could well be worth a shot. You can search for inmates using the special locator tool.  

College Records or Workplace 

If your relative was also a coworker, ask the respective workplace if they have any ideas. Talk to someone you knew there as most companies won’t provide personal details about the former staff. 

Your alumni directory, usually accessible online, is worth searching if you went to school with them. Many colleges and universities sell directories of graduates and keep track of their alumni. Contact the school for more information about its directory or any upcoming reunions.

Fraternities or Sororities 

On the note of college, were they ever in a fraternity or sorority? Call this organization and ask for details unless you can log into their site and check this information yourself. 

Final Thoughts 

You will get somewhere if you put this effort in. If you don’t catch a lucky break, it might be that your family member doesn’t want to be found or may have passed away. Sites like Tributes can help you find a deceased person. 


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