Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Testing 411.com to find living people

I have struggled over the years to find a reliable telephone number lookup web site to find friends and family addresses and phone numbers. I've tried Switchboard.com, ZabaSearch.com, Yahoo.com, Google.com and several others. Quite often, some of these sites go right to a fee web site that teases me but doesn't provide useful information, and therefore wastes my time.

At our CVGS meeting yesterday, Joan recommended http://www.411.com/ and showed examples form her own family members. I decided to try it out, using myself as a test subject.

I input my name "Randall Seaver" in the search box, and it came up with 6 results in the USA, in CA, FL, MI and TN (3). The name, address, phone number and age range (mine's wrong) are given for most of these. If it is a work number, the company and occupation might be provided. There are also "Reverse Number" and "Reverse Address" tabs to search with.

In the results listing, clicking on my name or the "Listing detail" link brings up another page with links to "Map," "Print," "Send/Save," View Web Results and Profiles for this person" and "Find neighbors and home values for this person." The "Map" link gets you a neighborhood map of the address.

The "Find Neighbors ... " link gets up to 30 entries for people living nearby the target person. For some reason, the link for me produced only 7 hits, but they are my neighbors. On this page, there are tabs for "Home values" and "Web results." Clicking on "Home Values" got a list of 10 homes in the area with some real estate value (these may be recently sold homes on the assessors records - I don't know for sure), and a map with stickpins for each house listed. I don't know how they came up with the home vale - it's not an average of the 10 homes.

All in all, this site does a better job finding addresses and phone numbers than most of the others that I've tried recently. If you click on the "More results" button you go off to a web page with a link to a fee web site.

How complete is this site? I'm guessing that it includes everybody in the US with a telephone number published in a telephone directory. I checked it out looking for my family and some friends:

* It found one married daughter (they have a land line), but not the other (they have a cell phone only)
* It found one brother in El Cajon CA, but not the one up in Vancouver WA.
* It did not have a listing for my mother, who died 5 years ago. The Ancestry.com listings still have her.
* It had 5 of the 6 cousins that I tried. I used the state to narrow the searches.
* It had several of my favorite bloggers. I know that some of you will try this out just to make sure that you are listed!

The neighbor feature is pretty useful. If you have an old address and you want to see if the person still lives there, you could put the address into the "Reverse Address" search and see who lives at the address. Then if you view the neighbors, you have a number of possible informants to tell you if old Uncle John died, moved, went to the rest home, or whatever.

I tested a few more free People Search web sites, and noticed that http://www.whitepages.com/ produces exactly the same results as http://www.411.com/ - just the web page has a different color scheme!

If you're looking for a web site to find living people, this is definitely one to put on your list. It's free, you get quite a bit of information usually, and it's easy to use.

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