Category Archives: Reverse Lookups-Finding By Their Contact Info

Lookup people by their cell phone numbers, email addresses, home address, dating profiles and more.

Finding & Stopping Trademark Infringers

So you started your new business, trademarked your name, and kept Googling it to see how you rank on the Internet.

Then one day, it happens. You find someone else is using
your trademark. And worse, they’re in the same line of business as you are!

“How can this be?” you cry. “I paid good money for my trademark. It’s on all my business cards. It’s on all my letterhead and now they dare use it on their title page?” Is there no decency? Why would they do such a thing?

I’ll sue! I’ll call in the navy. I’ll bring back corporal punishment in high schools! My wrath will be of Biblical proportions. If they don’t take it down, the sky will darken, and frogs will bark like spiders. They shall rue the day when they tried to take from me what is rightfully mine!!!

Welcome to my world. This is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago. And it can happen to you too. So this blog is all about finding the trademark infringer and how to police your trademark without an expensive lawsuit.

First You Must Identify The Infringer
In my case, the Sleuth For The Truth trademark was being used on a “woman owned” website called ***snoops.com (full name concealed for privacy reasons). And like me, they also did online background checks.

The infringer was slick. She never listed her name and contact information. If you wanted to reach out to her, you were stuck filling out a form on her “CONTACT” page. And worse, the domain name was a “private registration.” So a regular Whois lookup showed nothing but that it belonged to GoDaddy. She had paid to keep her identity top secret.

So following the steps in my earlier blog Expose The Business Owner Behind A Website, I found clues to who she was through the Wayback machine. But I still had no contact information.

So my next step was to do a nationwide corporation search. While it’s always smart to search for a business name in corporate filings, there are many businesses that never file as a company. Nor do they have to. However, here she had listed herself as an LLC. And I knew that all LLCs, INC.s and Corps. must be licensed somewhere.


This is where it got interesting. A multinational search for her business name turned up NOTHING. This business had no corporate filings in the US or abroad.

So this person was infringing on my trademark, hiding behind her website, and falsely claiming to be an LLC. Was there any hope of me finding out who she was? And even if I found her, how could I convince her to stop this horrible evil wrong she was doing?

The good news is I hit paydirt with the special website reverse lookups. Yes, the ones which can sometimes find even private domain registrations. And in her case, the smoking gun was an old email of hers!

From there finding her was easy. When I plugged her email address into Google and Pipl.com, suddenly I had her full name, her age, and her professional licenses. The lady had lots of pots on the stove. She was a notary, a licensed realtor and involved in many nonprofits.

A short time later it got even juicier. It turns out that my trademark infringer also works for the federal government.

This was important, as it meant she could be held accountable for things she did on her off hours. Things like falsely advertising she had an LLC, when she didn’t, and of course, her failure to respect my most excellent trademark.

My next stop was the occupational licensing boards. Always a great place to find the contact info for licensed realtors and notaries. Now I had her private cell phone number, home address, her business email and more.

It was time to act. But with great power comes great responsibility. I could do a lot of damage. But it’s just a trademark. And she should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

Contacting The Infringer
I’m a guy who hates conflict. And if I can, I’d like to be friends, especially if the person is as talented and driven as she was. So I emailed her at two of her private email addresses and let her know there was a trademark issue.

I never mentioned a lawsuit or that I was a lawyer. I also encouraged her to call me and indicated that I had two of her phone numbers.

To remain nonconfrontational, I gave her a few days to process this information. I then followed up with a pleasant message on her cell phone about how I would be happy to trade tips with her but she still needs to call me about the trademark issue. The next day I pasted a similar message on her website’s contact form.

At this point I waited a week. And it was a very long week. But I heard nothing from her. Meanwhile I considered all the harsh things I could say. Things that if I wasn’t careful, could get me into trouble.

Legal Reasons Not To Be Nasty
I could talk all day about the golden rule and do unto others. But the fact is that many of you just don’t care. You want the job done and may even feel it’s your corporate duty to be a hardass. Fine.

But if you’re too much of a hardass, it could backfire. Courts hate trademark bullies. Put enough heat on the infringer and you could find yourself being sued as a defendant.

Yes, if you threaten to sue them, make over reaching claims as to what your trademark covers, or start contacting the infringer’s clients, they could file a declaratory judgment against you. And suddenly you become the defendant, and they are the plaintiff.

So if you weren’t ready to sue or wanted to sue in a nice and friendly jurisdiction, suddenly you’re in their home court and forced to present your case NOW and in hostile territory!

I believe in the Golden Rule. I’d play it nice. (And there was no way in hell I’d be stuck in central Louisiana!)

Using Their Public Image To Keep Them Accountable
I was pretty pissed she never contacted me. And I knew where she worked. I also knew that because she was a notary and a realtor, her reputation with her licensing board was critical. Falsely claiming you’re an LLC when your not, would not sit well with them.

To treat her with dignity and avoid defamation, I didn’t call her names. I just spelled out the problem and gave her guidance how she could make it well and good again. I also implied that she could get into a lot of trouble if she didn’t stop what she was doing. But I made no outright threats.

Except one.

I told her I’ve posted this letter (with her name and contact info) on the Internet. I emailed her the link and explained that if I didn’t hear from her, this post may remain online indefinitely.

She responded in a few hours. Two days later she removed my trademark.

Here is the letter I sent to her workplace and posted online. Since she did the right thing, names and places have been changed to protect her privacy.

————————————————————————————-
Sally Surrah
US Dept. of Energy
495 Shreveport Highway
Houston, TX 17136

Phone: 678-587-9228

Email: Sally.Surrah@govmint.gov

November 3, 2017

Ms. Surrah,

I was hoping we could resolve this with a phone call. However, in spite of my earnest attempts to contact you, it appears you have no interest in getting in touch with me. I have reached out by phone and left a voicemail, I’ve posted to your website and emailed you at two of your other email addresses.

It is only as a last resort that I am now emailing your workplace. To undo the damage already caused by the misuse of the Sleuth For The Truth trademark, I am also posting this letter online at sleuthforthetruth.com.

If you desire to resolve this matter amicably, please call me at 678-587-9228.

Graham Firestone
President of Sleuth For The Truth

————————————————————————————-

(Blog Title that will appear in Google:)

Sally Surrah (AKA ***snoops.com) Please Cease & Desist From Using The Sleuth For The Truth Trademark

Ms. Surrah,

The website address ***snoops.com has been traced to you through your old email sankasaves@yahoo.com. There is no question that this site belongs to you.

You are running a business off this website called I am stealing your trademark, LLC which among other things, specializes in document retrieval, investigations and background checks. It is also
operating in violation of both state and federal law.

As a business owner myself, I feel you should know of at least two concerns.

1. You have falsely designated your business as an LLC even though you have never registered with the Texas Secretary of State. In fact, I have been unable to find your business “I am stealing your trademark, LLC” registered anywhere in the US or abroad.

Passing yourself off as an LLC when you’re not is a violation of Texas false advertising laws. See Sec. 71.05 _ _(Assumed name restrictions).

Given your background and accomplishments, I am somewhat puzzled by this oversight. You are a detective, a licensed realtor and you work for the United States government. You are also highly educated and have a background in law enforcement. So if there’s anyone sensitive to the law, hopefully it would be you.

For your own peace of mind, and to comply with the law, I suggest you remove the “LLC” designation. However, this is between you and the state of Texas.

Unauthorized Use of The Sleuth For The Truth Trademark
2. As you must know from my numerous attempts to contact you, ***snoops.com is using the Sleuth For The Truth trademark without permission from Sleuth For The Truth, Inc. I have reached out to you twice by email, once on your website’s form page and once by phone.

Each time, I’ve referred to my registered federal trademark and asked you to call or email me. However, I have received no response from you.

Your failure to get back to me is not a good sign this can be resolved amicably.

By law, I am required to actively police the Sleuth For The Truth trademark. If I don’t, it means I could lose the right to enforce it.

I can understand your desire to post controversial opinions while concealing your identity. However, being anonymous does not mean you can blithely ignore federal trademark law.

Although ***snoops.com was filed under a private domain registration, I was able to trace it back to you because of your email sankasaves@yahoo.com. Your ownership of this website has also been confirmed in various other ways.

Proper and Improper Use of Sleuth For The Truth (See Screenshots Below For Further Guidance)

As I’ve explained in an earlier email, I do not have a monopoly on the words “sleuth for the truth”. For example, you are free to use “sleuth for the truth” in a sentence such as “We sleuth for the truth.”

The problem occurs when you start using it as a brand name. The more it stands alone, is in big print, bolded or in caps, the more likely it will be seen as something that identifies your services. You also run into similar trademark issues when Sleuth For The Truth is being used in your title.

In your case, the misuse is even more serious. For you are a business that also does background checks. So you are using the same brand name, for the same services, and we are being found on the Internet by the same people.

This is a recipe for confusion in the market place. Please see Screenshot #2 which shows how SLEUTH FOR THE TRUTH is being misused as a brand name.

In addition, you have inserted the SLEUTH FOR THE TRUTH trademark into your HTML title tags.
(See Screenshot #3 for how this appears in Google, See Screenshot #4 for the actual HTML code on your website) 

This is extremely misleading to the general public. It means that people who Google for Sleuth For The Truth will see a link to your site titled SLEUTH FOR THE TRUTH I am stealing your trademark, LLC.

But once they click on this link, they see your title as something entirely different. The catchy words of my trademark vanish from the screen and do not appear in your title. They can only be seen in Google.

So it looks like you’re doing a bait and switch. Google shows one thing. Your site shows another. And my federal trademark is used as the bait to lure consumers to your business.

While you may not have meant to misappropriate my trademark, adding SLEUTH FOR THE TRUTH in your title code was done on purpose. It was not computer generated.

As you can see from Snapshot #4, the phrase Sleuth For The Truth was intentionally embedded in the HTML. If it were otherwise, your title on the site would appear exactly like it does on Google (see #3.)

Put another way, somehow the code was made so that Google would see it, but it would be invisible on your title page. This does not happen by accident. (Compare screenshot #1 with #3 and you’ll see the difference.).

To police my trademark, and undo any damage for potential confusion, I am posting this correspondence online at
sleuthforthetruth.com for all to see.

Please let me know if you choose to comply with this takedown request. If I don’t hear from you or your representative, this post may remain online indefinitely.

Regards,

Graham Firestone
President of Sleuth For The Truth
678-587-9228

Snapshot of ***snoops.com with Misuse of LLC & SLEUTH FOR THE TRUTH Trademark

How infringing website appears in a Google search for Sleuth For The Truth
Sleuth For the Truth Trademark Embedded in Title Tags on ***snoops.com.com website

Look Up Partial Phone Numbers That Are Missing A Digit!

So it’s time to call your new client. Or maybe it’s the hot date you met at Trader Joe’s. The only problem is you can’t read their phone number! Staring at the napkin, you try to decipher if it’s an 8, or a 1, or a 0. Or worse, you can read all the numbers just fine. But why are there only 6 digits?

So what do you do? Where can you go for help? Who can you call?

I decided to write this blog because a few days earlier, this is exactly what happened to a friend of mine. My friend is a no good, lousy duck stuffer (a taxidermist).

He came to me because he needed to call a new client about a bird he just mounted. But the client’s handwriting was so crappy that he couldn’t make out a digit in the phone number. I was able to find the number using Google. However, it was not your typical Google search.

How To Google A Number That’s Mostly Right
Sadly, Google did away with its reverse phone number lookup.  And if you enter a 6 digit # with dashes, Google thinks it’s a subtraction problem!

But Google can pull up plenty of phone numbers if you give it some hints. This includes lots of business numbers and even some cell #s.  And remember, you want to find the number they gave you. Not the old landline they discarded 10 years ago. Here’s how:

Say you’re looking up Graham Firestone and the number you have is

678-58?-9228. Or maybe you got sloppy and wrote 678-587-92228.

Or worse, the guy gave you a bum phone number and no last name.

But don’t you fret. All is not lost! Simply Google their name along with either the 3 digit # after the area code, or with the 4 digit # at the end. You can also search this way with the full name in quotation marks and also without. Or even with just a first name. Too many hits? Then refine your search with a city or state.

Google Search Examples With Partial #s
Graham  Firestone 587 (rare name and not sure of the last 4 digits)
Graham Firestone 9228 (rare name and not sure of the first 3 digits)
“John Smith” 9228 (common name in quotes)
“John Smith” 9228 Roswell (city added to narrow hits)
Graham 9228 Roswell
(first name w/ city)

But What If I Can’t Find It On Google?
Look, life’s tough. And you can’t always get what you want. Partial number searches don’t seem to work on Facebook, Pipl, the Whitepages or on Linkedin. But they may work on your emails, or in Excel or in a Word document.

Or, if you know which digit is missing, plug in numbers
0 -9 and put the whole phone number in a reverse cell phone lookup. Sites like OK Caller or SpyDialer will often return a full name once they have the right phone number.

For more, see the links and blogs at Consumer-SOS called

Backgrounding People By Their Phone #, Email or Address

Expose The Business Owner Behind A Website

The great thing about living in a small town is that you know everyone by name. You know their reputation and you know where to find them, especially if they’ve done you wrong. And so you’re less likely to be taken in by a pretty face, as you already know their true character.

Not so on the Internet. On the Internet the big bad wolf can masquerade as a happy sheep. And the ugly duckling can look like  a beautiful swan!

Don’t get me wrong. I like beautiful swans. Especially when they’re all so pretty soft and white. But if they’re an ugly duckling, I want to know about it. Because if the ugly duckling took all my money and won’t give me a refund, I’m going to go duck hunting.

So let’s talk about business websites. No, not the large companies that are publicly traded and easily found. But the small businesses. The ones that make nice professional web pages, where for some reason, the owner’s contact information is completely missing.

Yes, the websites where you’re unable to talk to a live person. And if you have a problem, you’re stuck filling out a complaint form which goes into the corporate abyss.

But what if you could find the business owners behind the website?  Perhaps express your joy to them at their personal email address?  Or maybe even send a bouquet of flowers to their house while they’re eating dinner?

Do you feel guilty for being so mad at them? Why not tell them all about it on their private cellphone! They may need to know about the awful dream you keep having. You know, the one where you repeatedly sue them and put a lien on their house.

Reaching real live owners is important, especially when there’s no evidence the business has been incorporated. If it’s not an official company, it means the owners could be personally liable. And so the more owners you can find, the more houses and property you can put liens on!

So this is a blog about hard to find businesses. Businesses that might not be incorporated and might not even have a bad reputation. (Yet)
The only thing you know for sure is that they owe you money and you need to reach real live people. People who can be held accountable for the wrongs they’ve done.

As an example, I will show you how to find the owners behind missiontripairfare.com. (AKA MTAF and Mission Trip Airfare)
Missiontripairfare.com is a great example of a site that doesn’t have easy to find contact information.

Just recently, Atlanta’s Fox 5 News reported they owe people over $500,000 for airline tickets. (They took the money, never bought the tickets and never refunded the money). Others have reported Mission Trip Airfare to be a scam and a fraud. And now the FBI is investigating them!

Once, their contact information used to be out in the open. But for some reason, it’s now all been neatly removed. So here I will use real public data to show you who the owners are and (if you like) how to reach them.

But before we begin, I must warn you: There’s a lot of information out there. So don’t get lost in it. Always keep in mind the following:

When You Get Their Names & Websites It Will Lead To Their Contact Info. When You Get Their Contact Info, It Will Lead To Their Names & Websites.
(So Everything Can Be Used To Find Who Owns What!)

Four Happy Tips

  1. Get their name and ways to reach them through their website, website address and older versions of their websites.
  2. Google any contact information you find, including their business names, plus any business or personal emails, addresses and phone #s.
  3. Use their names to get their contact info and their contact info to get their names. (Gather all the info you find. Even old emails and phone numbers could lead to other owners and hidden associates.)
  4. Confirm you have the right contact information. Plug your info into the free validators for their current emails, physical addresses and cell phone numbers.

Now Here’s How To Find Them:

Scour Their Current Website For Owners Names & Contact Info
Typically, ownership and contact information can be found on their  “Contact Us”, “About Us” or bio section. Copy any contact info into Word or notepad even if it’s just a first name. You’ll be Googling it later.

Sadly, through this method I could find nothing about the owners of missiontripairfare.com. The website was devoid of any helpful names, emails or phone numbers!

Scour Their Old Website For The Owners’ Names & Contact Info
Here’s where I hit paydirt! With the Way Back Machine, you can go back in time to what the website looked like in the days of yore. 

In other words, you may be able to see owner information before they got crafty enough to remove it! So with missiontripairfare.com, I was able to browse through 10 years of changes to find one of the website owners and how to reach her!

Here’s what missiontripairfare.com looked like in 2007. Note the contact info up top is now missing from the current website. But there’s no fooling the Way Back Machine!

The owner of Mission Trip Airfare is Elisabeth Greenhill, also known as Beth Greenhill. Her photo and bio is here (site as of 2005). I was also able to find a working cellphone # for her at 404-353-6824 (confirmed by the cellphone validator below). As late as 2016, she was still on the website as the founder and owner.

Lookup The Website’s Domain Name Registration For Names & Contact Info: Also Look Up Related Sites With .org & .net
Yes! Did you know that every website must register their domain name and provide contact information? Often this information can be found for free through a domain name lookup.

For large businesses, a domain lookup is pretty much useless. The reason is that any contact info you get is apt to lead to their IT department. And who wants to talk to IT people!

But it’s a goldmine for looking up small business owners. Often a domain registration gives you their name, their phone number and their email address. Sometimes you’ll even get their personal cell phone number. How about that!

But I was not so lucky with MTAF. For some reason missiontripairfare.com has concealed their domain registration. Sometimes people will pay extra for a private (or hidden) domain registration which can only be revealed through a court order.

But fear not! Sometimes you can look up a domain history which will tell you who owned the web address before they concealed it. This is how I found Beth Greenhill’s email address, which is bagreenhill@msn.com. Too bad it’s no longer valid.

For even more leads, try looking for who owns the same domain name but with the .net and .org suffix. Often people will reserve several domain names even if they’re never make them into websites. And sometimes, they will leave their contact info unprotected!

Through this approach I was able to uncover that Jonathan Andrew Greenhill owns missiontripairfare.org and missiontripairfare.net. WOW. He has the same last name as Beth Greenhill.

Is that a wild coincidence? Or could they be business partners? Whether they’re siblings or husband and wife is a separate issue.  But read on and I’ll show you that too!  But right now I’m just looking for liability. And the more partners the merrier! 

Google All Names & Contact Info For More Leads
Even if your website has virtually no contact information, be sure to do at least two Google searches.

You’ll always want to Google the business name and then do a separate search for the website address. In my case, I jumped the gun and Googled too quickly. I didn’t have the owners’ name yet. So I was overwhelmed with hundreds of useless hits.

This is what I found for missiontripairfare.com. I got more specific results when I did a separate search for “Mission Trip Airfare” (putting the business name in “quotes”).

If I knew the owner’s name earlier I could also have Googled Beth or Elisabeth or Beth Greenhill separately or in the same search box along with the website or the business name.

Also, I could have Googled any email addresses, physical addresses and phone #s to see what else comes up.

A Google search for“elisabeth greenhill” Georgia found she lives at 225 Warm Springs Circle, Atlanta, GA 30075. She owns this property as indicated in the Fulton County property lookups.

Check For Hidden Relationships
Note: To find hidden relationships between two people, I could have Googled Beth Jonathan Greenhill. Or I could have searched for their names along with a company they might own together.

In this case I confirmed that Beth and Jonathan Greenhill are brother and sister, not husband and wife.

To reveal their connection to each other, I simply checked for back links to missiontripairfare.com. This gave me the other websites which linked to them. While this won’t help for a big site like Microsoft, here it led me to the Greenhill family webpage.

And guess what?  In the middle of the page, Mama Greenhill boasts all about her 3 three sons and her daughter, the travel agent! Now ain’t that special!

For more on Googling, see Googling For Courts, Crimes, Marital Status & Names.

Find Owners Through A Company Name Search, Both Local and National.
Off the bat, I found nothing for missiontripairfare.com. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find your business. And how I searched will help you.

Be sure to search several states and in the various ways described below in red. If you find an incorporation, see if you can open up the original company filing. This will often have the owner’s cell phone number!

Searching Several Ways For A Business
For missiontripairfare.com, I did a preliminary national search making sure not to include a city or state. The free national search is good just to see what states have companies with the same name as the one you’re looking for.

If you find one in a certain state, click on the company name for their contact information. But don’t stop there. Even if you get their address, it could be an old one.

Now that you know the state where the business could be incorporated, go back to the free listing of Secretary of States and look up the most current contact info.

The national search ain’t perfect. It could miss records. So to figure out where they might be incorporated, I also would do a search where the owner lives and has lived, plus California and Delaware, which are where a lot of people incorporate.

So in the case of Mission Trip Airfare I checked with the Secretary of States in GA, DE, IL, SC and CA. Sadly, none of these had anything for MTAF, Mission Trip Airfare or MissionTripAirfare.com. In GA, I also searched for Beth Greenhill and Elisabeth Greenhill both as a registered agent and also as the officer/owner of any company. Nothing.

Now you might be asking what does it mean if your business is not
incorporated? In short, it means the owner can be personally liable for any debt incurred here.

Even when a business has incorporated, the owner may still be liable if they used the business to defraud people. So be sure to get legal advice on Piercing the Corporate Veil.

And this is where the fun begins! If more than one person is involved in the business, it could be a partnership where everyone is liable. This means you want to find all owners, so you can put a lien on all their houses! Now ain’t that something!

Plugin Names To See If They Own Other Businesses Which List Their Contact Info
If you find the names of people connected to the business, do a national search by their names too. Remember that names lead to contact information and contact information will lead to more names.

It may be they are the officers or agents of other companies. Companies where you can find where they live and send them a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Find Their Contact Info Through The Better Business Bureau Complaint Database.
The BBB allows you to search by website, business name, phone number or email address. Keep in mind that a new business may not have complaints. I recommend a search with and without their state. It’s possible their new business  in GA has no complaints, but the old one in AL does. This only works if the owner used the same name for both businesses (not uncommon).

WIth MTAF, I was able to use the BBB to locate their virtual office which is located at 10 Glenlake Pkwy STE 130 Atlanta, GA 30328-3495. They also listed “Ms. Beth Greenhill, Founder

Find Their Contact Info Through Other Domain Names They Have
Yes, you can get their private cell phone number, physical address and email addresses based on other domain names they’ve registered for. And you can do it simply by plugging in their old and new contact information. You don’t even need to know if they have a website!

So now all the contact info you saved is paying off!

Through a Reverse Whois Lookup you can find their other websites and domain names.This works by plugging in any of the following:Their name, the name of their company, their user name, or an email address of theirs.

Now let’s get back to Jonathan Greenhill of Mission Trip Airfare. With just his name I learned he owns the following web addresses:

broadcastatlanta.com 2005-11-02 GODADDY.COM, LLC
greenhillgroupllc.com 2014-10-01 REGISTER.COM, INC.
jacobgreenhill.com 2016-04-01 GODADDY.COM, LLC
jonathangreenhill.com 2014-08-11 GODADDY.COM, LLC
missiontripairfare.net 2014-03-27 GODADDY.COM, LLC
missiontripairfare.org 2014-03-27 GODADDY.COM, LLC
policycrowd.com 2014-04-15 ENOM, INC.
policycrowd.org 2014-04-15 ENOM, INC.
videoprosim.com 2014-08-11 GODADDY.COM, LLC

To find his current address, look for the latest website/URL. In this case it’s the one I marked in red. They don’t have a website up yet. But it’s always worth checking because an up and running website might have contact information.

Note that as late as 2016, Jonathan Greenhill listed his contact address as 1425 Rock Springs Circle, and his cell phone as 404-822-4185. Here’s a photo of the property where he lives.

Are you a shy person who is too afraid to shake his hand? Well in that case, why not  email him at jag1777@gmail.com? I’m sure he’ll be very glad to hear from you. The email is still valid. But if you need several more, just grab them from one of his other domain registrations.

Note: If my link to who owns a domain name doesn’t give out details on how to find him, you may need to go to GoDaddy or where ever the domain name is registered. Then use their WHOIS to find the owner’s contact information.

Confirm You Have The Right Contact Information
By now you have a slew of emails, phone numbers and physical addresses. But which ones are current? Does the cell phone number work? Who owns it? Is the email still good? And how can you know if they even live there anymore?

For emails, check to see if it’s a working email address. For physical addresses, do a reverse lookup to find if they still live at that location. You can also verify the name of the property owner.

For phone numbers, check out OKCaller.com and Spydialer.com. Both can tell you who’s behind the phone number. And Spydialer allows you to hear their voicemail without them ever knowing who called.

For More See

fraud fraudulent scam

Find Their Email Address

So you want their email address. Or maybe you just want to write them something nice.  Like “happy birthday” or “I’m gonna get you sucka!”

Of course, with their cell phone number, you can always text them. But for those like me who hate texting, try using Facebook or Linkedin. Both of these allow you to send messages or “inmails” even when the person is not in your network.

But what if they’re not on Facebook? If they own a small company, surprise them with a special message on their “Contact Us” page. Something in all caps like “HI JON, REMEMBER ME? I’M YOUR OLD SCHOOL BUDDY WHO YOU OWE A THOUSAND DOLLARS TO.  GLAD YOU’RE DOING SO WELL. I’LL BE DROPPING BY SOON…

That said, lets talk about emails! Thanks to spammers, email addresses are getting harder and harder to find. And what you find is often downright wrong or fabricated.

The Internet is rife with lots of crappy free email finders. These will give you emails of all sorts. But it’s a total mystery where they’re conjured up from!

For instance, I looked myself up on Melissa Data to learn I have an AOL email address. AOL? Seriously? Who uses AOL these days? I never did. I never will. The email result was bogus. So free email finders are a waste of your time. There are much better places to look.

Of course, you can always Google it. This works best for rare names or for common ones where you know their middle initial or company. But Google is just the beginning. And most people want to sort through less crap not more.

So Googling is not always best. At least not until you already have an email address. For more on Google, See #4 on Emails From Where They Work/How To Get Their Email Address.

Always Check If The Email Address is Valid
Obviously you’ll be tempted to use any email source you can get. But don’t email anything until you confirm it’s a valid email address. Valid means the address accepts emails. You don’t want your message to bounce back or be lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

But even with a valid email address, it may not reach the person you’re looking for. Maybe jsmith@yahoo.com still belongs to your old college friend John Smith. But maybe not. It could be he got a new email and it now goes to Jason smith. That’s why you should Google everything you find and see what comes up. You can also enter the email address in Pipl for even more leads.

So now let’s hunt for the fast and easy ways to get emails. What we want is the low hanging fruit. The places where if you shake the tree, the email falls into your lap.

1. Emails Through Your LinkedIn Contacts
Yes! Did you know that you can get the emails of everyone in your immediate contact list? Just click on your contact. Then click on SHOW MORE to the right. And wallah! Out pops their email address!

Looking for someone else in the company? With one email as a guide, you can guess the format for all the others. Often it’s a first initial last name@company.com.

Still not sure? Then plug your best guess into an Email Validator.
If it’s not valid, it could mean they’ve left the company, they have a special email address or you got the format wrong. There’s also a slight chance that the email is valid, and it’s a false negative. This could happen if the company’s server is uncooperative.

Think they’re still at the company? Then use an email permutator to list their most likely email addresses. And be sure to plug each one into the email validator until you hit pay dirt.

2. Emails Through Their Occupation, License Or Certification
If they’re a lawyer, doctor, teacher or insurance agent, it’s usually easy to find their updated home or work address. And in some cases, such as with GA lawyers, you can actually see their email address! To search the contact information for lawyers, doctors, bankers, pilots, CPAs, teachers and more, see Their Profession/License Or Certifications. 

Sometimes these professionals have their own practice. If they own a small company, all the better. Companies often have websites.  And those that don’t have at least reserved a domain name. See below  how this too can be used to get their email address!

3. Emails & Other Contact Info Through Their Domain Names & Websites
What if you could push a button and get their email address, cell phone # and physical address from all the websites they own? And what if you could do it with just their first and last name? Or the name of their company? You wouldn’t even have to know their web address! Well stop dreaming. Your prince has come!

Every respectable blog will tell you about doing a WhoIs domain lookup. All you have to do is enter their website address into the WhoIs search engine. (For example, you’d look up consumer-sos.com but without the http or www). At that point, you can see their contact information, including their email address. The exception is if they paid to keep it private.

But there’s a catch. Normally people won’t tell you, “Hi, I’m Bill Jones and did you know I have domain names at www….” So often you’ll have no clue if they have a website or not.

But there’s a new kid on the block. It’s a Reverse WhoIs that pulls up other people’s URLs. This includes active websites and domain names they’ve reserved but never used.

And it does so with just their first and last name! Actually, you don’t even need a full name!  It works with rare first names, or their full name, or an email address, or just by the name of the company they own. So you don’t have to know much. Any one of these will do.  And once you learn their domain names, it’s off to WhoIs for their emails!

Why Should I Care About Their Websites?
Several reasons. You want their email address right? And you’re not picky how you get it. So when you find a live website, look for their email address on the homepage. Often you’ll see it at “contact us” “Contact” or “About.” Also, a real live website is more apt to have a current email address.

Of course, not everyone has a website. Still, there are plenty of people who reserve a domain name, even if they never use it.

As mentioned earlier, you can do a WhoIs lookup on any of the active domains you find. Be sure to Google the expired domains as these won’t be in WhoIs. Google is like flypaper. It holds on to an everything, including the email addresses of long dead domain names.

For Past Versions of a Website Use The Way Back Machine. Lookup all domain names in the Way Back Machine to find old Websites even if they no longer exist. Or to see early versions of the current website. The reason? Even if the current website has no contact info, the subject may have listed it in earlier versions. And this could include a cell phone # or email address #!

4. Emails From Where They Work/How To Get or Guess Their Email Address
OK. Suppose you know that Jim Mcdonough works at Heninger Garrison Davis. The first stop is to go to the firm’s homepage and see if they list his contact info.

But what if it isn’t there? And suppose the firm doesn’t have a search engine where you could look for him? In that case, use Google to search for the email within the company’s website. And don’t forget to put in key words that are likely to return his email address.

For instance: You could Google within site for his first and last name along with the word Contact or Email. For example: jim mcdonough contact site:hgdlawfirm.com. When you list the website you must leave out the http or www.

Some websites will block Google search within site. But don’t you fret. Try the same search without a search within site. For example you could simply Google Jim Mcdonough Heninger Garrison Davis. Often the email will be in news articles, marketing posts or on other pages floating around in cyberspace.

How To Find Where They Work
The easiest ways to search are on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook or the Age/Employment lookup sites. The latter grabs the data from Linkedin, and you don’t need a LinkedIn account to see it.

You could also look up the company they own. And from there do a reverse WhoIs for their domain names. At that point, just plug these domain names back into a regular WhoIs for any emails you can find.

Note that many professionals must list their firm and email address with their licensing board. So you may be able to find their personal or business email through their Profession/License Or Certifications.

How To Guess An Email Address.
So he works for Microsoft? Then get a sample email address from Microsoft and copy the format. For example, many companies use a first initial last name approach.

To get a sample email, check the obvious places like their sales, marketing or legal divisions. Don’t forget to check your LinkedIn connections as well. Or do a WhoIs lookup on their website and copy the format from the email in their registration records.

Still can’t find it? Then use an email permutator to list the likely suspects. Once you’re armed with an email that could work, use an Email Validator to confirm it’s a good one.

5. Emails Through Companies They Own (Reserved Business Names)
You’d be surprised how many people “own” their own company. Own could mean a real company with a real product or service. But more often it means they simply paid $100 to reserve a  business name.  Yes it’s technically an INC or LLC, but it doesn’t do anything. Not that you care. You just want to look up their registration information or use it to find their email elsewhere.

So check the secretary of states offices where they could be an officer, agent or owner of a company. Do a separate search for each if allowed. It may be they’re just an agent.

Not sure what state to look in? Then search nationally for companies they may own, and then go back to the state of incorporation to hunt for emails. Emails could be listed in the articles of incorporation or in other corporate filings.

Can’t find an email? Then plug the company name back into a reverse WhoIs for emails buried within their domain name records. Perhaps now you can see why the reverse WhosIs is so useful!

For more on companies, see below.

Private Corporations (Consumer-SOS)
Search by individual or their company. You can search within a state or nationwide to find company and then look up contact info where the company is located.

6. Emails Through Their Trademarks (TM Owner Lookup)
If you find a trademark owner, you can often get their email address as well. The USPTO Trademark Database allows you to search for their trademark or the name of the trademark owner.

Choose a “basic search” and in the “Search Term” box, enter the person’s name or their trademark. In the “Field” box, be sure to use the drop down to select “Combined Word Mark” or “Owner Name & Address.”

When you’re on the page of their trademark, click on the TSDR button which is on the top left. At that point you’ll see owner and attorney contact information.

Although I filed my trademark without an attorney, my email address was still found on the link to “Attorney/Correspondence Information“.  But to be safe, you’ll also want to check “Current Owner(s) Information.”

7. Googling Valid and Invalid emails
Old or new, be sure to Google any email you get! You may learn they’ve changed jobs, have another email address, or there’s some other way to reach them.

 8. Ways to Find Email Addresses In Google & Twitter
Here are blogs that cover this subject better than I can.

 

 

Find Their Current Address

Life is full of surprises. And for me it’s always better to give than to receive. Perhaps your surprise is a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Or even a big fluffy pillow. People tend to like flowers and pillows.

Or maybe your surprise is a brand new expensive lawsuit. Most people don’t like lawsuits. Defending them can make them very unhappy. But since they made you unhappy, it’s only fair they get their rightful comeuppance.

If you want to hand deliver your surprise, you’ll need more than just their email address or phone number. What you need of course, is their current physical address.

But finding such isn’t easy. The Internet is teeming with old addresses, old phone numbers, and old blah blah blah. And people tend to move around a lot. They leave their state. They leave their spouse. They change jobs. They bail out on their landlords. And then after all is said and done, they try to run away from their own heat! Often you’ll see they have 5 to 10 addresses. So which is the one you send the flowers to?

What you need is some sort of date stamp. Something that gives you a snapshot of where they lived and when. So even if you don’t know their current address, you’ll get a good idea of where they last lived.  Maybe you’ll see they just moved in last week, and know exactly where to send the flowers to.

But don’t fret if you’re still out of luck. For you’ve got a friend in the US Post Office.  Yes, the link I just gave you shows how to make the Post Office send you their new mailing address. Now ain’t that special!

Starting With A List Of Addresses
You can find a list of their home addresses and other identifying info through the Age/Relative Lookup sites. This is a great place to get lots of addresses all in one spot. Plus you get other juicy info such as their middle names, middle initials, age, DOB, and employment history.

For common names this extra bit of information is especially important. It will come in handy later when you’re Googling and looking up voter registration records. At that point, you want to know you’ve got the right John Smith.

But disregard the dates next to any address. These commercial sites are often wrong. Just look yourself up and you can see they’ll have your old college address as the current one. And your current address will have the wrong date or be in the middle of the stack.

Places To Look For Their Current Address

  • Real Property Records (Locates Homeowners)
  • Licensing/Certification Boards (Locates Professionals)
  • Corporate Lookups (Locates Owners & Officers)
  • Voter Registration Records (Locates Voters)
  • Civil & Criminal Lawsuits (Address may be in the complaint)
  • Bankruptcy Filings (Locates Debtors)
  • Patent, Trademark & Copyright Filings (Locates Inventors)
  • SEC Filings (Locates Officers & Investors)
  • Government Salary & Employment Directories (Wanna Guess?)

Government Records That List An Address
Your next stop should be government records or a reliable site that gathers such.

The government likes you.  And they have a vested interest in where you live. Especially if you’re a sex offender, a registered voter, or someone who pays taxes on a home or business. You can count on the government to update this list, especially when they want your money.

Your first stop should be the county property records. Six out of 10 people own their own home. So if you find them here by name or address, you can bet it’s the most current.

For more, scroll to the bottom or see  Government Records That Confirm Addresses.

Professional Groups/Certification Groups That Regulate Members
Next, you can search for current addresses with professional associations that demand yearly dues or require yearly certifications.

If they’re a lawyer, doctor, teacher or insurance agent, it’s usually easy to find their updated home or work address. Why? You ask. Well, just like the government, these groups want your money too! And like the government, they want to know where to find you if you cause them trouble. So these records tend to be current.

But be sure to get such from the actual group that does the regulating. For example: If you want the current address for lawyer Graham Firestone, make sure to check the state bar which governs GA lawyers. Don’t bother with Martin Dale Hubble. The latter is just a commercial directory. It’s the State Bar that collects membership fees. So they will be the most current.

F
For the current addresses of doctors, lawyers, bankers, pilots, CPAs, teachers and more, see Their Profession/License Or Certifications.

Conclusion
The Internet is teeming with physical addresses. So for the most current address, verify what you find by checking property records, voting records, corporate records, criminal records, bankruptcy records and the records kept by professional licensing boards.

Government Records That Confirm Addresses

Look Up Home Owners (Consumer-SOS)
Search by owner or by address to confirm who lives there now. Can even do a name search for homes in other states!

Look Up Corporate Registrations (Consumer-SOS)
Search by name for the address of company. Can find them if they’re an owner, officer or registers agent. If the company is still listed as active, it’s a current address!

Mugshots/Arrests (Consumer-SOS)
Have they been arrested? Often returns their DOB which you’ll need for their voting records.

Voting Records In All 50 States & DC (Consumer-SOS)
Confirm their current address from voting registration records. Records may also show party affiliation. Will need their DOB and county. See DOB &_Marital_Status and Find Their County

Government Employees Salaries & Employment History (Consumer-SOS)
Search for federal, state, and county employees by name and see where to send the flowers to.  A recent salary history shows they’re probably still working there!

Look Up Their Recent Bankruptcies To Get The Debtors Address
Enter a last name and first with no commas i.e.
Smith John. Press the search button and once on the new page, scroll down manually or search by CTRL F (command F for Macs). Pages are long, so CTRL F search by a first name only or by whatever is least common to that page. Got several people with the same name? Mouse over the link you want and in the URL you can see the state and city where the bankruptcy was filed!
Click on name for their address.

Recent Patent, Trademark & Copyright Filings (Consumer-SOS)
Often it’s their attorney’s address. But just as often it’s the address of an individual.

Publicly Traded Corporations & Who Has An Interest In Them (Consumer-SOS)
Are they a bigwig at a fortune 500 company? Plug in their name to see where they work, their job title, their stock & salaries and what else they own. And if it’s a recent filing, you now know where to send the flowers to!

Sex Offender Registries (Most States)
Punch in a name (first, or last or both) and get their photo, description and address. To search the most states G click on National Search. For another site click Here

Get The Post Office To Tell You Their New Address!

Find Their New Mailing Address  (Consumer-SOS)
The Post Office will send you their forwarding address. (or so says their official rule book) Just send a real life letter to their last address and follow these handy dandy instructions! And don’t forget the stamp.

See Their House!

Show My Street
Instantly shows photos of the house or building as you’re typing the address! If it doesn’t then take off the suite #. A photo may show the address is just a concealed mail drop and not a real suite or business. (a strip mall with a UPS, Staples or Mailboxes Etc.) For more, see Other Street View Lookups (Google Search)

Google Tips

Googling An Address (Consumer-SOS)
Basics on how to find who lives there.

Google For Their Lawsuits (Consumer-SOS)
Might list their address in the complaint.

Googling For Criminal Conduct (Consumer-SOS)
Might list their address in the indictment or charges.

Googling For Recent Results In The Past Week, Month Or Year
In Google,  type in your search and press enter.  Then click on “Search Tools” up top and click on “Anytime”.

At this point, choose the past hour, the past day, the past week, past month or past year.  You can even use the Google calendar to customize your search to the last 2 years.

 

 

Verify Their Marital Status-Part II

Overview
Are they married but pretending to be single? Once you confirm you have their real name,  see if a spouse is listed through property records or the age/relatives lookup sites. Then Google both names together to see if they’re still married or recently divorced.

No one single database is complete. So look through a lot of them before you conclude the person is unmarried!  Obviously, if you find a possible wife you can skip a step and go to verifying their current marital status.

Great give aways include recent wedding announcements, gift registries and recent obituaries. I love obituaries because they often lists the names and marital relationship of those in attendance.
(ex:
his son John Tilden and his wife, Golda from Florida).

So let’s have some fun.  It’s time to pull off Santa’s beard and expose the fraud.  Enjoy!

Index
1. Verify You Have His Real Name
2. Check Property Records For A Spouse
3. Look For Female Relatives that Could Be A Spouse
4. Google Both Their Names Together For Current Marital Status
5. Googling For Divorces
6. Check Free Databases For Divorces or If “The Woman Filed For a Name Change

Step 1:  Verify You Have His Real Name (a married man may give you a false one)

Skip this step ONLY if you’re absolutely sure he gave you his true name, i.e. he’s an old high school flame or you’ve seen his passport, credit card or driver’s license.  Otherwise, TRUST BUT VERIFY.

Does his cellphone number, username, address or email address all pull up some other guy? (a different photo or different name)

To find out, see Reverse Searches: Verify by Their Contact Information (Consumer-SOS)

Same goes if he claims to be a doctor, lawyer or CPA, etc.  To practice their profession, they must first be registered with the appropriate Occupational Licensing Board in their state. So if he’s given you a nick name, be sure to check a Directory Of Nick Names for his proper name.  For example: Dick=Richard, Ray=Raymond, Bill= William. Then look him up using both names. If he’s not there, it could mean he’s being untruthful about his name or profession or both.

What If All I Have Is Just His Name And Nothing More?
If you have his name and nothing else, (no username, email or cell # from text messages, etc.) verify their name by matching it with other things he’s told you about himself.

For example: If through the age & relative lookups you can’t find “Adam Rosen” age 53 in Georgia, the:guy is either new in town, or probably lying about his name, his age or both. The age & relative lookups are extremely comprehensive! They list almost everybody. (Far more so than the online Whitepages.)

Step 2: Check Property Records For A Spouse
If a woman is on the deed. Don’t let him tell you it’s his sister. Jump to Steps 4-6 and verify!

Background Homeowners To See If A Spouse Is Listed As Co-owner (50 States & DC)
6 out of 10 people own rather than rent, which means you can find or verify the names of over a hundred million homeowners with just their name or an address. Results may also include their middle initial, the home’s value, or that a
spouse is also on the deed! If you can’t find them, it could mean they rent, it’s in their spouse’s name or they gave you a false name. It could also mean they live in NYC, or you have the wrong address or city.
h t
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Step 3: Look For A Possible Spouse Listed Among His Relatives
The age & relative lookups in Group 1 and 2 below show who may be related to the guy and how old they are.  A woman within 12 years of his age could be a sister, a roommate, an ex spouse or his current wife. Write down any female names that fit the bill. Sometimes a woman’s age won’t show up even when the guy’s does. But you can get her age by doing a separate search for her as well.  

Try at least one lookup from both Groups 1 and 2.

Group 1 (Relatives)

Intelius.com
Enter their name and state they live in for their age and possible relatives. For more relatives, mouse over “View All”.  Even if it may miss a relative, you’ll often see other valuable info about them such as where they worked or went to college.  This can help you identify them among false leads when Googling for  common name.

US Search.com (National Database)
Has age, places they’ve lived and possible relatives.  For more relatives, mouse over “View More”.

Group 2 (Marriage Records)

Moose Roots Marriage Records
Can look to see if they were ever married and when, but it’s hit or miss as the database is far from complete. But if you see a spouse, you at least know who she is if her name pops up in a deed or other listing. Not good for showing divorces.

FamilyTreeNow (Marriage)
Enter a full name and can also enter in a state if you get too many hits. (first try without a state since you don’t know where else they’ve lived or where they may have got married).
Hit enter, then scroll down on left to FILTER RESULTS. Choose either Marriage Records, Divorce Records or Living People…  (Misses many who are either married or divorced, but it’s worth looking at.)

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Step 4: Google Both Their Names Together For Current Marital Status

If they’re listed as husband and wife, try Googling their names with divorce decree. Or try searching for hits only in the last year.

Google Search Combos For Marriage (start with broad searches and refine if too many hits)

Sam Karen Gruberman
Sam Karen Gruberman Georgia
Karen Sam Gruberman Georgia
(switched the names around)
Sam Karen Gruberman Georgia wife OR married (use capital OR to get either “wife” OR “married”)
Sam Karen Gruberman Georgia wife OR married (Google Set to Past Year Only)

Limit Your Results To Past Year Only
Click on link above and replace names and state with the ones you’re looking for. Or learn how to limit Google searches within the last year. See #6 of Google Like A Pro (Quick Tips & Tricks).
And if last month’s obituary shows they’re married, but he insists he’s not, make him cough up the divorce certificate!

Step 5: Googling For Divorces
Start with broad searches and refine if you get too many hits.  See the examples below where I search with and without quotes.

Searching with their name and divorce might work.  Or it could pull up every divorce attorney in town! Here’s how to bypass those annoying ads from divorce lawyers and still get the meat!

“FIRESTONE v FIRESTONE” Richard (use quotes, may pull up several of his divorces)
“FIRESTONE v FIRESTONE” Richard Susan
“FIRESTONE v FIRESTONE” Richard Susan Georgia (here limited by state, but could omit divorces in other states)
Pontrelli v Pontrelli Barrie (Rare last name, no quotes needed)

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Step 6: Check Free Divorce Databases or If “The Woman Filed For a Name Change

https://www.juralindex.com/
For divorces, enter in the last name of the person and then search by state and case name. Using the last name as a case name should pull up divorces and name changes. For uncommon names, omit the state. You can always add it later if there are too many hits.  OR try searching by plaintiff or defendant or all. Then hit VIEW CASE DETAILS.  Records may go back to before 1995.

Note: For all you google experts who use Google to search within the bowels of other websites: It’ a waste of time in this case! Google won’t puck up records that are there which means you’ll be misled even more if you find nothing. You’re better off going to the websites directly.

Related Links:

Reverse Searches: Background Them By Old Contact Info

Ever Google a common name like “Jason Smith” to find there’s thousands of them?  Or suppose you want to learn more about Carol Jones, the hot vendor who moved into the office next door?  Google lists over 100 millions hits for her.

So which one is the pretty blond without a wedding ring?  And is she really single?  Or does the wedding ring vanish, but only when she’s selling to her mostly male customers?

There are many reasons to do a background check.  For example: If Carol is single, just knowing what she does for fun could put you miles ahead of the competition.  Imagine her surprise when she hears you talk about her one true passion.  Which of course is to see the Special Olympics Unicycle Ukulele relay race. (Now I don’t recommend you lie.  But if you truly have similar interests, you’ll feel a lot bolder when you talk to her!)

So how can you find out this info?  And do it quickly without false leads?

By the way, this blog is a short add on to People With Common Names-How To Background Them and to the blog  Age, Relatives & Middle Name: The First Stop In Any Background Check.  In those blogs, I spoke about finding people by their unique identifiers, such as their age and middle name.  But  I assumed you only had their first and last name to work with.

Sometimes you have more.  For example: you could have their old or current email address, an old or current cell # or a prior home address. You might even have an old user name of theirs from when you met them on Match.com.  Obviously you waste nothing by plugging this into Google.  For more on that see Google Like A Pro (Quick Tips & Tricks).

But even before Google, you’ve got a powerful tool you may not have thought of.  Through reverse lookups, you can cut to the chase and find your exact Carol Jones in an instant.

Reverse Lookups (Searching By Contact Info)
When Googling  for common names, you know from my other blogs that it’s best to have at least a middle initial or maybe even a state where they once lived.  From there you sift through all your hits.  Usually you will find your target.  Usually.

But with reverse lookups or Reverse Searches, you can shortcut this process.   Key is finding the right FREE websites where you can plug in whatever piece of information you got.  The best of these instantly give you more information than what you started with.  They don’t take forever to load; and they don’t string you along.  Key is that they hone in on your subject, not someone else with the same name.

Well, guess what?  I just gave you these links both above and below!  And they’re organized based on the type of contact info you’re most likely to have!  Emails, phone numbers, addresses and user names.

For example:  this link in Pipl.com searches based on my email address of g_firestone@yahoo.com.  Now click on a few of the links and you can find my middle name, my Twitter and Facebook accounts, my age, my profession, etc.  What’s more, the hits you get are linked directly with this email address.  So you know you got the right Graham Firestone.  Not that there was any doubt.  I’m the only Graham Firestone on the block. OR in the world!  But it matters when your name is a common one.

For phone numbers, you could get similar hits to the above.  Or you may just find the invaluable middle name.   But Google whatever you get for even more results.

Note that you can always plug an email, phone number or user name directly into Facebook or other social media.  Sometimes it even works!

So stop lollygagging and start searching!  And don’t forget to comment if you have thoughts, feelings or suggestions.  Doing so makes me feel warm and fuzzy. And I like warm and fuzzy.

Good luck!

Reverse Searches

Emails Phone #s
Photos/Images Street Addresses
User Names/Dating Profiles Websites/Intellectual Property

 

 

Backgrounding A Contractor

Ever hire a home contractor who didn’t do the work?  Or worse, someone who ruined your floor and then vanished when you complained about it?  Well, welcome to the club.

For most of us, the home is the biggest investment we’ve got.  So it makes sense to do a background check before you hire a home builder or home improvement contractor.

I’m not talking about doing a background check for minor matters.  If you’re single with no kids, there’s no need to background the plumber who unclogs your toilet. .

But it’s a whole different unicorn when you’re building a basement or adding a new deck to your backyard.  These are huge projects that require time, money and a commitment to get the job done.  It won’t do for the contractor to disappear on you because he’s broke or on drugs.  So you need to be sure they have the character, competence and resources to do it right.

The Three Things To Look For In Every Contractor
They must be:

  1. Legally allowed to work;
  2. Competent and honest in their work;
  3. Likely to finish the work (Fiscally sound and show commitment)

Below are the five absolute show stoppers.  If you see any of these, cut bait and run!  Don’t even think about hiring them!  And yes, I’ve provided you with all the free links to do your own background check.

  1. He’s Operating Illegally (No License )
    So he’s got a company and the Secretary of State says he really owns it.  Great.  He’s shown you he can pay $150 to reserve a business name.  But can he repair your roof?  I too own a business.  But shoot me dead if you catch me remodeling your kitchen.  Home remodeling takes special skill and training, which is why most states require a special license for it.
    .

    Now it’s possible you’re a free thinking anarchist.  And maybe you just don’t give a fig’s behind if your contractor has a “gubmint” license or not.  After all, “the stinkin state” just wants more money, right?
    .
    But this isn’t about philosophy.  This is about your home.  When they haul away your contractor in handcuffs, just who’s gonna finish your half basement?  And if he did a bad job, how will you get him to redo his shoddy work?  An honest contractor will try to fix it.  But if he’s busted, he can’t.  And good luck getting a refund from a guy who just lost his business!
    .
    How Do I Know My State Requires A License?

    Easy.  First, ask the contractor if he’s licensed to do the work and if not, why not?  He’ll either tell you he doesn’t need a license, make excuses or say he’s got one.  Whatever he says, confirm it with your Secretary of State or your state licensing board.  Just click on the map to see what each state’s requirements are for builders and home improvement contractors.  Or call the numbers listed to find out if he needs a license or already has one. 
    .

    Another approach is to Google your state’s eligibility requirements.  For example, just enter in home builders licensed in Georgia (replace with your state.)  This should tell you if he needs a license or not.
    .
    Where Do I Search For Licenses?
    Want to search for their license yourself?  Then plug in their name in your state’s Occupation Licensing Boards
    .

    Every state’s website is different and has different ways to search for licenses.  But if you can, I recommend you do a general name search without checking off the profession you’re looking for. .In fact, to be safe, I’d try pulling up all licenses holders by last name only.  Otherwise you might enter in a first name when he’s listed under a middle name or vice versa.  If you must list a profession or license type, look for search categories such as building contractor, general contractor, electrical contractor, home improvement contractor or plumber/journeyman/contractor..
    .
    It’s not enough that he has any license.  He must have the right license.  For example, a friend of mine wanted to build a new house on his Georgia farm.  But the contractor he had me background wasn’t qualified to do the job.  The guy was licensed to build barns but not homes! 
    .

    So you can imagine if he was shut down before the job was complete.  My friend could have been roofless and without a contractor!  And then the rain would come…
    .
  2. Complaints About Dishonesty or Bad Work
    If he’s legal, he could still be incompetent.  Or worse, a lousy cheat.  Now is the time to learn about his character.  Be sure to Google his name or company (do both) and then do it again with the following words: suit, lawsuit, litigation, complaints, fraud.
    .
    At first, search without limiting it to a particular state.  You may discover he’s had the same business in other states where people have complained about him. Too many hits?  Then add your state too.
    .
    Search Examples (A partial list with phrases in “”)
    “Conrad Peters” builder complaints
    “Conrad Peters” builder fraud
    “Conrad Peters” “home improvement” complaints
    Conrad Peters builder litigation (name w/o quotes)
    and
    “Equine Farms” complaints (his company)
    “Conrad Peters” builder litigation Georgia
    “Conrad Peters” builder lawsuit Georgia
    “Conrad R Peters” (middle initial)
    .
    Be sure to also Google the contact information on their business card.  Include their phone number, email address and physical address.  See How To Google By Their Address,  Phone Number and Email.  For how to Google using quotes, no quotes and their middle name, see Google Like A Pro (Quick Tips & Tricks) and People With Common Names-How To Background Them..
    .
    Also check out his business with the national Better Business Bureau Complaint Database. You can search by website, company name, phone number or email address.  Keep in mind that a new business may not have complaints.  I recommend a search with and without their state.  It’s possible his new company in GA has no complaints, but his old one in AL does.  This only works if he used the same name for both companies (not uncommon).
    .
  3. The Guy Was Born Yesterday (New Business, But No Work History)
    It’s not enough that he has no complaints.  If he’s experienced and good at what he does, his name should be all over the Internet.  So beware of someone who appears to have no past.  If he’s over 40 and suddenly popped into existence two years ago, something is wrong.  It could mean he’s just new and inexperienced.  But if that’s the case, why do you want him working on your home?
    .
    But it could also be something more sinister.  For example, he could have formed a new company to hide a sordid history of shoddy work and dishonest dealings.  You’d never know because the complaints were against a different business.
    .
    How Can I See Prior Companies Or A Job History?
    Does a Google search of his name or business show a LinkedIn account with no prior companies or job history?  Or a search at the Secretary of State shows that his business is less than two years old?  Here’s how to learn what he was doing before then. 
    .

    While at the Secretary of State’s website, search for him by both his business name and his first and last name.  It may be that he’s been the officer or agent of other companies that either went bankrupt or received a lot of complaints against them. You can also search their name to see if they ever owned companies in other states.
    .
    If you find his other companies, Google these for lawsuits and complaints as well.  Also Google any addresses or phone numbers connected with these companies.  See also the businesses or work he’s had previously, by looking for his prior employment at the Age, Employment DOB websites.
    .
  4. Recent Bankruptcies (Personal or Business)
    Is your contractor having money trouble?  Can he handle your project without going broke halfway in between?  Check out how he’s handled his finances in the recent past.  For example,  I found that one contractor had two bankruptcies in 2013.  One was personal, and the other was his former company.  To escape the heat, he formed a new company in the same year and started all over again!
    .
    If you still want to use him, be to sure to ask: What happens if you start building my house and don’t have the finances to finish the project? “How will I be protected?” “Do you have safeguards now that you didn’t have in 2013?” “Are you bonded and insured?”  To find out if he or his businesses have had recent bankruptcies, see the Sleuth For The Truth blog on Finding Free Bankruptcy Records..
    .
  5. Crimes That Show Moral Depravity
    Don’t worry about the DUI from 20 years ago.  Pay attention to recent acts of violence, sex offenses involving minors and anything to indicate he’s depraved or dishonest.

Related Links

 

Are They Married? Find Out Without Even Their Last Name!

The best investigators know three things that are secrets to everyone else.

1. Where To Find The Free Links
Most people don’t have a clue.  But that’s easy.  The free links to do online background checks are right here!

2. How To Search The Free Links
But free links are just the beginning.  Second, you’ve got to know how each website works.  If you search with the wrong format, or get too specific, chances are you’ll find nothing of value.  So it’s always best to test out each website with a common name.  A name that you expect to get hits for.

If say, you don’t get any hits with a name like  “John Smith”,  it means the website is bad or you’ve entered the name in the wrong format.   For example, was the name to be last name first?  Do you have an extra space, a misspelled word or did you perhaps leave out or include a comma?  Every website has different rules for searching.  Look at their examples, if they have any.

(Less Is More)
If you can, just enter in a first and last name and maybe a state.  Also, be sure not to include too much information, even if there’s a field for it.  That’s right.  Leave out middle initials, race, age, location, etc. Too much will exclude valid records that could be missing these things.

3. How To Piece It All Together
But to really excel, you’ve got to know more than how to use a bunch of links.  The best investigators leverage the facts they know to find out the facts they don’t know.  And from there, they string together these facts into a story.  This story is all about the person’s character and dependability.

This is what we’re after.  This blog will show you how to string the facts together into a story.  And from that story you can decide if the person is trustworthy.  In other words, you’ll know better if it’s safe to date them, safe to hire them, safe to rent to them, or safe to let them into your home.

Finding Marital Status With Just A First Name  & Phone #
Here’s how we searched for someone, what we found out about them and how we put the facts together.  (All names, locations and ages have been changed to protect the guilty!)

Yesterday “Susan” wanted me to background a guy she met on a dating site.  She didn’t have much for me to work with.  Just a phone number from his texts and that his name was “Sam.”  Up until now, Sam and Susan had never met each other.   But Sam had great ambition.  He told her that for their first date, they’d have a great night out and then go back to a hotel for sex.

Susan was less happy about this than Sam.  But she was curious why Sam opted for a hotel instead of going back to his place.  So she asked for my help with a background check.

What We Found
With just Sam’s phone number, we were able to confirm Sam had given us his real first name.  After all, some people don’t.   We also found Sam’s last name, his middle name, the names of Sam’s relatives, Sam’s age, and Sam’s current and prior home addresses.

From there we took a look at his property records, searched for criminal records, found tax liens on his home and finally, we Googled him.  Turns out, Sam had good reason to meet Susan at a hotel.

Sam was still married!  Indeed, according to at least one stat, 30 percent of all “single” men online are lying about their marital status.  For more see The Top Signs The Guy Is Married Or Cheating On You.

How We Found It: An Anatomy of A Background Check

First Stop: Reverse Lookups
As I mentioned earlier, all we had was a first name and phone number.  But it could have been a first name and an email address, or a first name and a dating profile name, or a first name and a physical address.

With reverse lookups, you can confirm his first name or learn he’s giving you a false one.  The reverse lookups for all of these can be found at Consumer-SOS.com.  But having the links is not enough.  Here’s how we used them!

Our first stop was OKcaller.com.  What we needed was a name behind the phone number.  If that didn’t work, we’d go to Spydialer.com, and finally, we’d try our luck with Google or the less effective reverse lookup sites.  (OKCaller is the best because it even works with most cell phone numbers.)

With OKCaller we hit the jackpot!  We found Sam’s full name was Samuel Gruberman.  We also got his home address in Cartersville GA!  Sweet!

Second Stop: Sites For Age, DOB, Relatives & Where Else They’ve Lived
So we now knew an address, a phone number and that his name was Samuel Gruberman.  At this point we could have jumped straight to Google.  But then we’d be flooded with too many hits.

After all, there’s got to be a lot of Samuel Grubermans.  So we had to find a way to know we had the right person.  And that meant using special databases to find distinguishing things about him.  (For more,  see People With Common Names-How To Background Them.)

Knowing Sam’s true age, the names of his relatives and his middle name would be helpful.  So our next stop was to the free sites to find their Age, DOB, Relatives & Where Else They’ve Lived.  Our goal was to look for any Sam or Samuel Gruberman with the same Cartersville address.  With such, we hoped to find other information including his age and relatives.

The age lookup sites not only found him, but listed his age as 61.
We also were able to learn his middle name was Raymond.  So now we had his full name, Samuel Raymond Gruberman.  (Later we would Google this along with Samuel R Gruberman.)

The age lookup sites didn’t stop there.  They also listed the various cities and states where Sam lived and included his relatives.  Now Sam was easier to identify than ever.

One of these relatives was a woman named Karen Gruberman.  Later we clicked on the links for Karen Gruberman and found she was also 61 (i.e. probably not his sister.)

So we continued looking for records of Sam Gruberman.  Within each website, we looked down each page for near duplicate records.  In other words, we looked for those records that were mostly the same but would give us additional information about him.

We also looked at other age and relative websites.  If the page within a site was very long, we used Ctrl F to search for his middle name or his address.  (Command F for Macs).  The goal was to find the old that we knew, coupled with the new things we did not know.

We paid attention only to the records that were clearly about him and not some other Sam Gruberman.  For example: we looked for his name with the Cartersville address or his name with the states he’s lived in, or his name with the same set of relatives.

And our knowledge of Sam Gruberman grew and grew,

We now knew his age, his date of birth, the places he’s lived, his address, his prior addresses, his prior phone numbers and his relatives.  Some of these sites even listed the companies he founded.  We checked those out too at the GA Secretary of State.  However, we found no additional names or addresses that might be connected to him.

But one mystery remained.  Just who was Karen Gruberman?  We knew they were both 61.  Could she really be his sister?  Doubtful they’d both be born in the same year.  Was she an ex wife?  Or worse, a current wife?  We were at an impasse. There was nothing else the age lookup sites could do for us.

Third Stop: Free Criminal Records & Bankruptcy Records
At this point we wanted to know some hard facts about out quarry. Was he a child molester?  Was he ever arrested?  Did he ever file for bankruptcy?  Armed with his full name and address, our next step was the free bankruptcies and arrest mugshot records.  But we found nothing.

Fourth Stop: Free Property Records
We knew his name.  And we knew his address.  Was he rich?  Did he own the property or rent from his mom?  We were determined to find out.

So our next stop were the free property records.  We could have searched by his address or by name.  But a name search was easier.  And the property records spoke volumes.  Karen was listed as co-owner of the property!  We also found their home once had IRS and GA tax liens against it!

So we now knew Karen co-owns the house with him.  This smelled a lot like a wife.  But how could we be sure?

Fifth Stop: Googling Names, Addresses & Phone Numbers
Now it was time to Google!  The goal was to find only recent information about him.  More to the point, we needed to know if Sam and Karen were still husband and wife.

Googling Only Recent Events
So we Googled Sam and Karen Gruberman together (just the words in red, no quotation marks).  But there were so many hits!  What we needed was the here and now, not ancient history.  So we set Google to show only the returns from the last year.  To see how this is done, see Google Like A Pro (Quick Tips and Tricks). 

Previously I had set Google to give me 100 returns per page so we could scroll down the pages quickly.  Now it was paying off big time.  On the second page (hit # 200), we found an obituary for Sam’s Dad dated 9 months earlier.  The obit was amazing because it listed all the relatives who attended.

It read “Mr. Gruberman (SR) is survived by his wife, and son, Sam Gruberman and wife, Karen of Cartersville, GA,

WOW!  Good ole Sam is still married!  Karen was his wife 9 months ago.  And Karen is his wife now.  If they were really divorced, why is she still on the property records?  No wonder Sam wanted a hotel.  Bad Sam!  Next time at least fess up you’re still married!

Related Links
Google Like A Pro! (Quick Tips & Tricks)
People With Common Names-How To Background Them
Age-The First Stop In Any Background Check
Is The Crime Still Online?

Google Like A Pro (Quick Tips and Tricks)

Whether you’re shopping online or doing your own background checks, you can get swamped with too many names, too many pages and too many false leads.  To avoid this, here are 8 search tricks that will forever change how you Google!

This Blog Will Show You How To:
1. Google search 100 hits per page instead of 10 per page
2. Search for an exact phrase using quotes
3. See old versions of a website (Google Cache)
4. Search for key words once on a web page (Control F, Command F
for Macs)
5. Exclude Google returns that contain unwanted words
6. Search for recent results in the past week, month or year
7. Search within a particular website
8. Search For Images (Google Reverse Image Search).

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1. Search Faster With 100 Returns Per Page
First let’s permanently set Google to give you 100 returns per page instead of ten.  If you’re not sure this is a worthwhile thing to do, try Googling for John Smith and mugshots.  As you can see, at just ten hits per page, you will be searching for a lifetime!  How much better to search 10 times faster and with 10 times the returns on a page!

For more searches per page, you can customize your search settings.  First, under “Search Settings” and “Google Instant predictions”, click on “Never show Instant results.”  This deactivates any suggestions on how to search for things. (Something only marginally helpful when you already know what you’re looking for).

Next, slide the results per page from 10 to 100.  This makes Google microscopically slower, but with today’s super fast Internet speeds, who cares! (Note: this won’t work unless you first turn off the instant results feature above).

Now, click “Save” at the bottom and start searching!  The same results are now at a 100 per page instead of 10.  Think how much time you’ll save with this trick alone.  Say goodbye to the page by page nonsense!  200 returns takes up 2 pages instead of 20.   And if it’s not there, you simply move on to your next search.

 

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2. Search For An Exact Phrase Using Quotes
Most people never think of using quotation marks around names or phrases.  But if you Google John Smith and mugshots (without quotes) you get over half a million hits.  To narrow your search, let’s put the name in quotes so it looks like this: “John Smith” mugshots.  Now your search results are cut down to less than 46 thousand hits.

The great thing about quotes is that you can target exact phrases, including names.  With the example above, you can see the quotes allow you to pull up hits where the words John and Smith are right next to each other.

But why stop there?  Let’s see what happens when we add the middle initial R.  Amazingly, the search for “John R Smith” mugshots returns a mere 56 hits.

Now let’s refine the search to “John Richard Smith” mugshots.  Here you get only 25 hits!  So with a full name in quotes, even a common name becomes uncommon.  And with the power of quotes, you can find your mark easily.

Finally, lets add a city to narrow the results even further.  With “John Richard Smith” mugshots Atlanta, we’ve reduced half a million hits to five!

Use Triple Quotes For Even More Exact Phrases
This is a secret Google won’t talk about. But if you want to make absolutely sure you get Graham Firestone and not Graham Moclayus Firestone, search like this “””Graham Firestone”””

Pros & Cons of Using Quotes

Pros
Quotes are great when you know the exact phrase you’re looking for.
Example: “post office most wanted”
Example: “John Richard Smith”

Dangers Of Using Quotes
Quotes can exclude valid results because the words were not next to each other.  This matters for example, when you have no idea how the name will be listed, i.e. when searching for wedding announcements or obituaries.  For example: Quotes around “John Smith” would exclude an obituary about John R Smith or a wedding announcement for John and Clara Smith.  Likewise, quotes around “Clara and John Smith” could exclude valid returns with “John and Clara Smith”

Conclusion
If you know the exact phrase or phrases you’re looking for, put it in quotes!  You can also narrow your leads by adding a city or other information not in quotes.  Be careful of using quotes when you don’t know the exact word order you want, or you want the key terms to come back with a middle name, the name of a spouse or other information that would otherwise be excluded.

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3. See Old Versions Of A Website (Google Cache)
Ever go to website to learn it’s changed or no longer there?  This is especially frustrating when you know the site refers to the person you’re looking for.  The good news is that Google’s cache function can show you an earlier snapshot of the same site.

Suppose you’re looking for Graham Firestone and Google pulls up a site where he’s nowhere to be found.  So what do you do?
First, use your back button to revisit the list of Google hits where you first found the site.  Notice a green link directly under your website.

Click the down arrow at the end of the green link and click Cached.   Now you are on a snapshot of the site before it changed.  For more see Search tricks including finding really old websites on the Wayback Machine.

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4. Search For Key Words On A Web Page (Control F, Command F for Macs)
So you’re at the top of a webpage over 100 screens long.  Now here’s how to quickly find the name you’re looking for.  PC users can search for a key word within the site by holding down the Ctrl button on their keyboard and also pressing the letter F.  Mac users can do the same thing with Command F.  When the small search box appears, simply enter John or Smith or whatever single key term you’re looking for.

Each time you hit enter it will take you to where that term appears on the page.  Some browsers will even highlight your search terms so all you have to do is scroll down for the yellow or green highlights.

Note: the find function is a far cry from Google.  So do not enter more than one term at a time.  Also, the single will find the plural as long as there’s no spelling change. (Attorney will find attorneys, but not vice versa.  A search for fly will not find flies).

A good practice is to search for the least common part of the name.  For example: Say your searching for John Zanzibar and you find yourself at the top of a super huge webpage.  While on the page, first do a search for Zanzibar.  There’s probably only one.  But a search for John will probably take you to a lot of the Johns you weren’t looking for.

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5.. Exclude Google Returns That Contain Unwanted Words
Now let’s talk about excluding the words we don’t need in a search.
Notice a search for John Firestone gives you over 12 million hits.

But Google has a way to exclude unwanted words by using the minus sign.  Here’s how it’s done.  In the Google search box, first enter the terms you want as usual.  Then, after your desired search terms, you’ll want to enter the terms you don’t want in your returns.  Simply press the space bar and add the minus sign along with all the words you don’t want.

For example: John Firestone -tires has 8 times fewer hits because now it’s not puling up Firestone tires.

John Firestone -tires -dr has even fewer hits. (691,000 instead of 12 million).  But before you exclude, take a look at your returns for words you know are irrelevant.  Open a few to see the pattern. Otherwise you may over exclude and miss something important.

Using Quotes Combined With The Minus Sign
Now watch what happens when you add quotes such as below.
“john firestone” -tires -dr

As you probably knew, you get a lot fewer returns.  This is because the word doctor is not relevant unless for some reason you believe your subject was a doctor or connected to doctors.

Previously I tried this search and to my surprise I got more hits instead of less.  So always pay attention to what happens when you add search terms or use the minus sign.  You should get fewer returns not more!

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6.  Search For Recent Results In The Past Week, Month Or Year
Ever want recent news, a recent weather report or the most recent scoop on a person’s whereabouts?  With Google, you can pull up returns from the past year to even the past hour.  Just type in your search and press enter.  Then click on Search Tools up top and click on Anytime.

At this point, choose the past hour, the past day, the past week, past month or past year.  You can even use the Google calendar to customize your search to the last 2 years.

Now you can search the most recent how to links, the most recent phone numbers, the most recent developments in the law, the newest products on the market… (you get the gist.)

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7. Search Within A Particular Website
Sometimes a website won’t let you search it, or it requires you sign up for it.  At other times  it’s so badly organized, you simply can’t find anything.  This is particularly true with government websites.  Even if they have a search engine, they’re often useless!

The good news is that you can still search many of these sites with Google’s search within site feature.

First, I enter the searches in quotes or no quotes, then a space, the word “site colon and the name of the website, no space after the colon. To see how it works, just click on the link below.  Note this only searches within the ancestry.com website.

“David Firestone” site:ancestry.com

The applications here are endless.  Now you can search almost any  site with the power of Google and all it’s search capabilities!  Use this to shop for products, gather evidence of product infringement, search for company announcements or look for people!

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8. Search For Images (Google Reverse Image Search)
Google can also find when someone’s image appears in different places online.  This can be helpful in tracking where they’ve been or what they’ve done.  For more on this see Free Links That Detect Online Copying (Consumer-SOS.com).  See also Reverse Image Search.

Related Links
Age-The First Stop In Any Background Check
People With Common Names-How To Background Them
Is The Crime Still Online?
Are They Married? Find Out Without Even Their Last Name!