Common Names-How To Background

So you Googled your date “John Smith” and got a billion hits.  Some of the John Smiths are felons.  And some are florists, bankers and lawyers.  But which one is the guy who just texted you?  Even Googling his name with “Atlanta” gives you 70 million to choose from.  So how do you know you have the right guy?

Google is great for rare names.  But for common names, it’s your worst enemy.  What you need is something more focused.  Something that allows you to discover other unique things about the person you’re looking for.  And once you know these things, Google becomes your friend again.

Spotting People By Their Unique Physical Features

Sketch of a Person-Physical Things Unique To Him

In the everyday world of face to face contact, we can spot our John Smith even when he’s in a crowd.  The reason is he has unique PHYSICAL features that make him different from everyone else.

For example: We can find him by his height , the shape of his face, the color of his hair, his voice and many other things that taken together, no one else has in the exact same package.

But when looking for records, you don’t always have the benefit of a photo.  So how do you find someone on the Internet when you can’t see their face?  The answer is to find the non physical features which like their face, make them unique. For common names, you’ll want a list of such before you start Googling.

So what non physical features make your John Smith stand out in a crowd?  What’s so unique about him that it’s obvious it could be no one else?

Spotting People By Their Unique Non-Physical Features

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For example: To find your John Smith in a Google or a criminal records search, it would be helpful to know unique things about him such as his middle name or initial, or his age or date of birth. This could narrow your search from ten thousand to 10 almost instantly.

What about the names of his relatives such as his spouse, his brother, his sister or his parents?  With this information, you could retrieve records with both his name and their names and disregard the rest.

Better yet, we would know we had the right John Smith, if his name was found along with his current and past contact information.  For example, a John Smith with at least one of the same phone numbers, addresses or email addresses as the one we were looking for.

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But why stop there?  Even without his contact information, we could still narrow down our list of John Smiths for we know our John Smith lived in 5 specific cities and states and that he’s also an attorney.

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Likewise, knowing his hobbies, his fraternity, and his college and employment history would also identify the right John Smith.  After all, there may be 10 million John Smiths.  But how many speak French, went to Harvard, liked skeet shooting and worked for Firestone tires?  And how many of these were Phi Beta Kappas?  Not many I bet.  In fact, he’s probably the only one!

So  even if the person has a common name, he’s still unique in other ways where you can identify him.  And once he’s identified, you can use these things to Google him. Or find criminal records that can only be him and him alone!

Where To Find Their Age, Relatives, Middle Name, Contact Info & More

Most of the commercial background check services give this information away for free. They are counting on the fact that you don’t know what to do with it, and will then pay for a more indepth background check. Take what they give. Without a credit card, they can’t charge you.

The best of these sites can be found at

How To Use These Sites
Enter in a first and last name only. Or add a state, if you know it. DO NOT fill in any other fields as you may miss valid records. Most people want to fill in all they know including a middle name, gender, age, city… But since some records won’t have a middle name or city, you don’t want to be too specific. This goes for any site you find. Search broadly. If there are too many hits you can go back and narrow your search terms with a city.

Other Resources For Free Background Checks

Blogs On How To Do Free Background Checks