Skip to content
Text Resize
Friday October 22, 2021

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Track Down Old Friends Online

I am interested in tracking down some old friends I have lost touch with over the years. What can you recommend that can help me find them?

Thanks to the internet, tracking down long-lost friends from many years ago is relatively easy to do. In most cases, it will not cost you a cent. Here are some tips and online tools to help you get started.

Remembering the Details

Before you begin your search, a good first step is to jot down any information you know about the people you are trying to locate. Note details such as their full name (maiden and married), age or birth date, last known address or phone number, email address, names of family members, etc. Knowing these details can help you turn up clues while you search.

Social Media and Search Engines

After you compile your information, a good place to start your search is at social media sites. Search engines are helpful tools as well.

When using search engines, type in the name of the person you are searching for in quotation marks, for example, "John Smith." You can narrow your search by adding other criteria like their nickname or middle name, the city or state they may live in or even their occupation.

People Search Sites

If your initial search comes up empty, you can also use people search websites or "people finder" search engines. These sites will provide a list of potential matches from across the U.S.

Because many people share the same name, these sites will also supply details to help identify the right person. This may include age, prior hometowns, names of relatives, colleges attended or employer. While these sites are free to use at a basic level, they may charge a small fee for providing certain details like the person's contact information. You may not find who you are looking for if any of your acquaintances have opted out due to privacy concerns.

Niche Finding Sites

Here are a few other niche people-finding websites to help you with your search. To look for old high school classmates, check your high school alumni website. Not every school has its own site, but some do. You can look for it by going to any search engine and typing in the name of the school with the city and state it is located in. You can also search social media platforms for alumni groups. You may not find the classmate you are looking for, but it may connect you with information with another classmate who remains in touch with your friend.

If you are looking for old college friends, look for an alumni directory on the school's website. You might be able to access your friend's contact info by completing an online registration. You can also call or email your alumni relations department and ask them to pass on your contact info to your friend. If you are looking for someone you served with in the military, there are websites that offer free searches through large databases of records.

If you cannot find any current information about the person you are searching for, it could be that he or she has passed away. To find out if that is the case, use obituary databases, which may incorporate newspaper obituary search tools from hundreds of U.S. newspapers.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published November 13, 2020

Previous Articles

How to Claim Social Security Benefits During the Pandemic

Coronavirus Versus Flu: How to Tell the Difference

Protecting Seniors on Social Media

How to Create an Online Memorial for a Departed Loved One

How to Find an Online Therapist