How to Find Long Lost Friends
Dear Savvy Senior
I just turned 60, and before I get any older I would like to get back in touch with some long-lost friends from years ago. Whats the best way to find them?
There are actually many ways to go about tracking down people youve lost touch with, and thanks to the Internet, its much easier to do. Here are some tips and good Web sources to get you started.
Before you start your search, a good first step is to take a moment and jot down any information you can remember about the person youre trying to find. Things like their full name, age or birth date, last known address or phone number, old e-mail address, names of family members, etc. Knowing details can help you turn up clues as you search.
After you gather some information, a good place to start searching is at Google.com. When you get there type in the persons first and last name in quotation marks to indicate youre searching for a specific phrase (for example, John Doe). Unless your friend has a unique name, youre likely to get a ton of results, but dont give up. You can narrow your search by adding other criteria like their middle initial or middle name, the city or state they may live in, or even their occupation. Also be sure to take advantage of the advanced search feature which is right on the front page. Some other good and free people search sites to try are www.411.com which also has a reverse phone and address look-up, www.zabasearch.com, www.find-people-free-search.com and http://people.yahoo.com.
You can also find long lost friends through public records Web sites which provide a plethora of searching tools and massive amounts of data. To start digging, stop by www.searchsystems.net, the largest directory of links to free public record databases on the Internet. Or for a few dollars, you can search sites like www.peoplelookup.com, www.peoplefinders.com, www.public-records-now.com and www.intelius.com, all of which produce fantastic results.
Back to school
Two sites commonly used to track down former classmates and old high school sweethearts are Classmates.com and Reunion.com. Classmates.com claims 40 million users and offers free registration, but if you want to contact someone, you need to become a member, which costs $15 for three months. Reunion.com claims to have 51 million users and costs $36 for three months. These sites require users to register with them, so if the person youre looking for hasnt registered, you wont find them.
Another option is to check out your high schools alumni Web page. Not every school has its own site, but many do and you can look for it by going to any search engine and typing in the name of your school with the city and state its located in. You can also do a search at www.alumniclass.com, which is a huge hosting site for thousands of high schools across the U.S. If you dont have any luck here, contact your high school to see if they have any resources or recommendations.
If youre looking for old college friends, your best resource is your university alumni association who are experts at tracking people down. If they arent able to give you the contact information, they may be able to forward a message for you. You may also want to try the previously mentioned sites Classmates.com and Reunion.com, and for help in hunting down old sorority or fraternity members check out www.greekpages.com.
If youre looking for someone you served with in the military, Military.com offers a free Buddy Finder service that has a data base of more than 20 million records. Also try Militaryconnections.com and Classmates.com.
And finally, to find out if the person youre looking for has passed away try www.legacy.com, a site that provides links to obituaries published by the companys network of newspaper affiliates. You can also do a death search at www.ancestry.com click on search, or through the public records sites previously listed.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.