9 Sites That Find People and Their 'Sensitive' Information
PC World, Mark Sullivan, October 1, 2008
At one time or another, you might need to get the goods on a stranger, like a
prospective nanny or a business contact. Public records and people-finder sites are
often the place to look; we list the best ones here. These sites use cool, Web 2.0
techniques to help you locate people, then (if need be) dig deep to find the "sensitive"
intel about them you need.
WhitePages.com; WhitePages and PeopleFinders
are both good tools for tracking down people, their addresses, and their phone numbers,
but the nod goes to WhitePages for its upcoming addition of voice and mobile
FriendFeed; Many content sharing and social networking
sites exist now--Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and so on--and my friends seem to be spread
out evenly among them. I don't have time to visit them all. FriendFeed crawls more than
40 such sites to keep you updated on the Web pages, photos, videos, and music that your
friends are sharing or commenting on.
Spock; This site looks for a person's school, work, and
social affiliations, then displays photos, links to social network pages, Web sites,
videos, and blogs about that person.
Facebook: I know, I know, recommending such a well-known standby as Facebook is like
recommending that you wear sunscreen at the beach. But, really, what social networking
site is more functional, more organized, and more populous than this one?
Glassdoor: This site invites you to log in and anonymously write what you really think
of the company you work for, the culture you work in (here's where you gripe about your
boss), and the salary you're pulling down. Then (and only then) can you dig for some
dirt on current or former coworkers and, best of all, see how much they make.
Search Systems: Public-records sites do the legwork of collecting all kinds of public
records from all over the country, and then sell access to them via the Internet. Search
Systems, one of the oldest and most reliable of these companies, takes a no-nonsense
approach to selling access to 36,000 public-records databases from around the country.
You can access marriage and death records, property records, and business permits
for a $5 monthly fee, or buy the "premium" service, which includes bankruptcy and
NETRonline (www.netronline.com): For a somewhat more hands-on approach to accessing
public records, NETRonline's free public records portal is a very useful tool, with
direct links to the actual county and state databases that contain the data. NETR also
offers background checks and criminal-record searches, for a price.
Criminal Searches: Do you really know the people in your neighborhood? Do some of them
have criminal histories, including sex-related offenses, violent crimes, and theft (or
just traffic offenses, as the site also details)? Criminal Searches provides their mug
shots and even plots their addresses on a map, for free.
FundRace: This clever mashup site plots political donors on a map and shows how much
they contributed. What did your neighbor give to the Democrats or the Republicans this year?