How to Find a Lost Family Member

How to Find a Lost Family Member

You find yourself sitting at Christmas dinner where your family members are sharing stories of years gone by.  One relative’s name keeps coming up throughout the conversation – maybe it’s an aunt or a cousin – but you’ve never met them, or they became long ago estranged from the family.  No one talks about where they are now, and they’ve almost become a mythical person.

Even if this exact scenario doesn’t resonate with you, there may be an out of touch family member you want to reach out to, but you’re not sure where to begin.  The internet gives us a few different ways to start your search and find a lost family member.

Use a background check website to reconnect with your past

Possibly the most effective way to help you find relevant information about a lost family member is to run a background check.  Don’t let the term scare you off; you don’t have to hire a private investigator.  A background checking site can help.

Running a background check gives you the information contained in public records, but instead of you spending hours searching databases for small scraps of data, the website does it for you.  Your results will be as thorough as possible with all the public information available.

To be clear, this is a perfectly legal procurement of publicly accessible information.  In other words, a background check will only give you information that you’re allowed to access anyways, and it just makes it easier by allowing you to get it all in one place.

Here is the type of information you can gather by running a people search:

  • Previous known addresses
  • Contact information
  • Social media profile URLs
  • Criminal records
  • Possible relatives and their contact information

Background check sites help you scour through public databases and other reliable information sources to help you reconnect with lost family members.  It’s user-friendly, legal, and confidential, so no one will know you’re searching for them unless you decide to reach out.  What you do with the information you find is up to you.

How to use a background check website

Once you’re on the site, you’ll notice that there are a few different ways to conduct your search.  Some filters may be more useful to you than others, depending on what information you have to start your search.


The first step is to enter your relative’s first and last name.  If you know what city or state they live in, it will help narrow down the results, but you can leave these fields blank, too.

If the person you’re searching for has a common name, you will need to further modify your search.  There are options to add more information, such as a middle initial, year of birth, etc.  When checking the reports from your search, look closely at the location and possible relatives listed to ensure you’ve found the right person.

Last known address

If you know the past address of the person you’re looking for, it can significantly reduce the number of reports you’ll have to look through.  Even if it’s a childhood address, it will help.  Property records and land titles databases contain data on previous owners.  Census records also have information on past residents.

Reverse phone lookups 

Quite often, when searching for a family member, somebody has a phone number from years ago.  You can use this search method to track down the owner of a phone number and other information about them.  The number doesn’t need to be active to search for it.

Search for known connections

Mutual relatives can give you a great deal of help in finding the person you’re looking for.  A known connection like a sibling, cousin, parent, spouse, or even former roommate can give you an easy link to your lost family member.  Background checks contain information on possible relatives who might know them.  If you can’t find the person you want, try conducting a search for a mutual relative, then grow your search results from there.

Types of Information Available

When conducting a background check, these are the types of information you may be able to find:

  • Location history, past addresses, and contact information
  • Marital status, blog posts, websites, and social media profiles
  • Criminal records, court proceedings, outstanding warrants, sex offender status
  • Financial records such as property holdings and business affiliations
  • Education history, job status, and military service records

If the information is contained in a public record, you will be able to access it.  Finding a lost family member can be easy when you use an online tool to help you.