Depending on what you're looking for, the kind of information available online can be broken down in a variety of ways. Here's how this case developed, with links to some basic resources.
Searching the Net can be anything but elementary. But never fear: You can put some method in the madness. Here are the steps that our stealthy reporter followed and some links that could help jump-start a search of your own.
Getting tipped off
Pages that provide useful links and instruction on how to be a cybersleuth.
|The Stalker's Home Page: provides a wealth of tips and links to find and protect private information|
|The Private Investigators Mall: an excellent starting point. It provides several links to PI home pages, referrals to investigators, tips on conducting searches, and a list of links|
|Finding People on the Internet|
|Sherlock@--The Internet Consulting Detective: a storehouse of tips and links|
|The Internet Sleuth|
|Yahoo's list of online investigators|
Just the facts
Sites that allow free searches of publicly available addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
|Yahoo or Excite: if the person is a Net user|
|Yahoo's people search|
|DejaNews: a fully searchable archive of bulletin boards|
|Switchboard: a popular nationwide telephone directory|
|Four11 White Pages: telephone and email directory.|
|Internet Address Finder|
Sites that allow more specific, free searches.
|Military City Online Web Outpost: to search out people in the armed services|
|Gopher links to university and other directories|
|ReuNet: The Reunion Network: billed as the original missing people's network, this site helps find long-lost family and friends|
|Ancestry Search: includes a free Social Security search of deceased Americans and other links|
|The Missing Persons Pages: search a database of missing persons or submit a report about a missing person|
Sites that put you in touch with a human being. Keep in mind, you must generally pay for these services.
|Pritchett Bureau of Investigation|
|The Integrity Center|
On the record
Sites that allow searches of record databases; a combination of free and pay services
|KnowX and the The American Information Network will do court public records searches for free; you have to pay for the information if it's found, but it's fairly cheap|
|Confi-chek is a brand-new site that says it will allow limited low-fee automated checks of records|
|CDB Infotek is one of the most popular Web databases used by investigators but requires membership|
|WESTLAW is another subscription-based service|
When all else fails
Sites that tell you where to write for information.
|Where to write for vital records|
(NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list of all engines and services on the Net. NEWS.COM does not endorse the sites behind these links.)