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Savvy Senior: Tips for tracking down old friends online

Dear Savvy Senior: I’m interested in tracking down some old friends I’ve lost touch with over the years and could use some help. What websites can you recommend that can help me find them? — Tracking Tom

Dear Tom: Thanks to the internet, tracking down long-lost friends is relatively easy, and in most cases, it won’t cost you a cent. Here are some tips and online tools to help you get started.

Remembering details

A good first step is to jot down anything you remember or find out about the people you’re trying to locate, such as full name (maiden and married), age or birthdate, last known address or phone number, old email address, names of family members, etc.

Social media, search engines

After you compile your information, start your search at social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, X and Instagram, and search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

When using search engines, type the name of the person you’re searching for in quotation marks. You can narrow the search by adding other criteria like their nicknames or middle names, cities or states they may live in, or even their occupations.

People seeking

Other options are people searches such as AnyWho.com, Intelius.com or WhitePages.com. These sites will provide a list of potential matches from across the United States

Because many people share the same name, these sites will also supply details to help identify the right person, perhaps including their age, prior hometowns, names of relatives, colleges attended or employer.

While these sites are free to use at a basic level, they charge small fees for providing certain details such as the person’s contact information. WhitePages sometimes provides home phone numbers for free, though.

Niche search sites

To look for high school classmates, try Classmates.com. This site has contact information only for people who have registered with it. But even if your friend hasn’t registered, it could provide contact info for another classmate who remains in touch with your friend.

Another option is to check out your high school alumni website. Not every school has its own site, but some do, and you can look for it by going to any search engine and typing in the name of the school, city and state. You can also search at AlumniClass.com, a huge hosting site for thousands of high schools across the U.S.

If you’re looking for college friends, look for an alumni directory on the school’s website. You might be able to access your friend’s contact info by completing an online registration. Or, try calling or emailing your alumni relations department and ask them to pass on your contact info to your friend.

If you’re looking for someone you served with in the military, you can search for free at GIsearch.com, TogetherWeServed.com and VetFriends.com.

If you suspect your friend might have died, use obituary databases such as Tributes.com and Legacy.com, which has a newspaper obituary search tool from hundreds of U.S. newspapers.

Send questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

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