How to Find a Missing Family Member for Free

If a brother, sister, in-law, long-lost cousin, or some other relative has gone missing, there are ways to search for them without paying a large fee for a professional people search firm or a private detective. Here's how to search for missing family members.


    • 1

      Check With Your Family First

      The missing family member hasn't been in touch with you, but they doesn't mean they are totally incommunicado with everyone you know.

      The first stop of your search should be family and friends. Put together a list of phone numbers and email addresses, and reach out to folks you don't routinely talk to, but how might have heard from your missing relation.

      Common sense is your best guide here. Say your brother has been out of touch. Perhaps some cousins he was close to when he was younger have been in touch. Or maybe he always wanted to live in California, in which case, your relatives in Los Angeles are a good place to start. Get the picture?

    • 2

      Use the Internet Second

      The internet is a powerful tool for tracking down missing persons, whose names might show up in newspaper reports, criminal history databases, real estate transactions, voter rolls, and so on. Or, they might just have a big old webpage of their own, or a listing on MySpace, FaceBook, or some other social networking site.

    • 3

      Try Commercial Services Next

      If free searching isn't doing the trick, or if you just don't have the patience for it, then try a people find database. These are especially useful when looking for someone with an unusual name (so you don't get overwhelmed by false leads). In my experience, is one of the better services out there, and their fees are pretty reasonable.

    • 4

      If All Else Fails

      Your best efforts at finding a missing family member may not always pay off, especially if the person has made an effort to NOT be found.

      In cases like these, you may need help from a professional people-search firm. Look in the Yellow Pages in your area for a private detective -- look under Detective Agencies, or Investigators -- to locate someone who can help (but be prepared to shell out some big bucks). You friends and family may also be able to recommend someone in this regard.

      Or use the less expensive services of a professional cyber-sleuth who may have better luck finding who you're looking for. The Resources section includes a link to a good people-search firm.

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