Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is a great tool for Investigators and normally the first place a savvy PI will begin their investigation is on the Internet using OSINT searches.
With the help of our relationships with many PI we have collated a database of free OSINT links which you can use, just visit this link and all these search tools are yours to use.
Great for methodically searching online and for those who are new to OSINT.
Users of this database also have the advantage of being able to gauge how effective a Paid for service is versus many of the free search tools listed below.
Whilst most tools below are free to use immediately, some tools we have highlighted for things like Background Checks, may be behind a paywall.
We will continually update this as we see fit, if you believe you can make this resource better and you want to help your fellow professional, please email us with your suggestions at: [email protected]
Something to note before you begin, many of the OSINT links provided are live internet links so best practice is as follows:
Ensure you act fast when gathering intelligence from live data that is useful for your investigation, live links can change instantly, if you find something important, capture it immediately.
Google – www.google.com
Searching internationally with google?
Change the .com to any number of country codes to find more local information which may be relevant to your target.
Bing – www.bing.com
Ask – www.ask.com
Yahoo – www.yahoo.com
Yandex - www.yandex.com
Yandex is the equivalent of Google in Russia, good for Investigations with links to Russia
Mozbot - www.mozbot.com
Mozbot is a French Search Engine, good for researching links with France
Sputtr – www.sputtr.com
Interesting Multi Search Engine which references multiple well known domains including google, bing and many other useful domains, in one search. US centric.
Search Engines that do not Track
Duckduckgo – www.duckduckgo.com
Qwant – www.qwant.com
Startpage – www.startpage.com
Oscobo – www.oscobo.com
Interesting Search Engines
Gigablast – www.gigablast.com
Private.SH – www.private.sh
Cryptographically protects your search history.
Interesting dropdown Search for International Searches, Country selector option.
Here are some People search sites listed below, whilst these sites are good we recommend utilizing all types of searches to find people. People can be found on the internet many ways, anything from a WHO is search, Facebook profile or even a reverse image search can help you get closer to locating or discovering more about a particular person.
Ancestry – www.ancestry.com
Genealogy site, provides a free trial but this is a paid for service.
Anywho – www.anywho.com
US Centric people, places & business search site, allows users to specify by state, city and provides a reverse phone number lookup
Blackbookonline.info – www.blackbookonline.info
Interesting website aimed at finding public records such as Death, Criminal and all other types of Public records. Scroll down to the bottom and review all of their other Investigative focused websites covering many types of subjects.
Beenverified – www.beenverified.com
This site has been around for a few years and we have had reports of the site providing good sources of information when used methodically, basically searching through all the sites available and getting a hit from time to time through this site. Aimed at users who are seeking Public records, appears to be behind a paywall but no info on pricing on their site at this time.
This site has a variety of searches on its homepage:
Canada411 – www.canada411.ca
People & Business Search specifically for Canada, has a reverse phone lookup – Free to use
Infobel – www.infobel.com
Worldwide search directory, can select country specific information, Belgium based company.
Intelius - www.intelius.com
Well known provider of information, paid for services, Background checks, Public records and Criminal record checks.
MelissaData – www.melissa.com
Focus is on accurate Address lookups on the main page but take a look at all of these search topics, very wide range of searches on this paid for site, users can purchase credits on this site for as little as $3. www.melissa.com/v2/lookups/
Peekyou – www.peekyou.com
People Search with State Selector – US Centric.
Pipl – www.pipl.com
Pipl SEARCH claims it is the essential investigative tool used by the leading insurance and financial institutions, government agencies and media companies in the world
Pipl offers different pricing for different plans. For Contact, it charges $0.05 per match, for Social $0.10 per match. For Business $0.20 per match
Public Records Search Systems – www.publicrecords.searchsystems.net
Public searches for free or Premium paid for Criminal searches, pay per search starting form $9.95-$14.95, state & nationwide searches available. They also provide a free version of their Criminal records search but this is based on information from the web only:
Spokeo – www.spokeo.com
Paid for Service, like many of these services, data can be discovered but is never guaranteed.
ThisNumber - www.thisnumber.com
Appears to be a free to use service for finding out which business the phone number is connected to. State, nationwide and worldwide number searches available. Interesting way to find the cell phone operators code specific state by state prefixes.
Usersearch.org – www.usersearch.org
Interesting online identity search system, searches over 60 social media, dating and forum based websites.
Zoominfo – www.zoominfo.com
Primarily for Professional People search, executive searches, paid for service which appears to be a premium cost with very little information on actual costs until you contact their sales team for an individual plan.
Social Media and websites where users build profiles can reveal a lot about a target, identifying their interests such as Facebook Groups they belong to and infiltrating those groups can give you a bird’s eye view of their interactions. Signing up for dating websites is a simple way to ascertain someone’s intentions. Social media is so widely used now, it is always a good idea to try and identify a targets most frequently used sites. Instant messaging functions are on virtually every social media interface and the ability to share photos and videos and have video calls is common place on all social media channels.
Even the new sites like TIKTOK have messaging features so what appears to be a simple fun video sharing platform can develop much further between users.
When you first visit an unfamiliar social network, do not be alarmed with all the in network terms, these systems are built with ease of use in mind so get acquainted with your targets favorite domain and you easily pick up the terms and learn innovative ways to find information.
Pro Tips for conducting a Social Media Investigation
1. Google & Bing Cross referencing
When conducting a Social media investigation always cross reference your subjects pedigree information across a range of search engines like google and bing and of course, social media websites like Facebook.
2. Look Your Subject Up On Social Media
Social media profiles provide strong information on a subject’s lifestyle, Interest and Locations as well as historical data which can be an absolute goldmine, think pictures of a target on a specific day, placing them somewhere they should not be. Of course as Social media is now so mainstream, be prepared that your targets may be more internet savvy and will likely make attempts to hide their information as much as possible.
Big social media sites like Facebook provide all the privacy tools to ensure a user does not feel too public but privacy controls are confusing to a lot of folks so always expect the unexpected and keep exhausting all avenues.
3. Constant Surveillance via Facebook Groups
Facebook has changed somewhat over the years and one area which has grown quickly and seems to be a mainstay is; Groups. Groups can be a strong tool for Investigators, with the ability to identify a target, discover their interests, potentially identify their favorite groups within Facebook and you can join the group and keep an eye on the target and their interactions.
Providing the group is a public group you can request to join and you can monitor your target long term or even develop communications with them.
4. Live Data Changes, Find it and File it, FAST
When you find something important, before you do anything else, capture that data from your live site and protect your Investigation. Live sites can change so quickly, do not be caught out with this kind of school boy error, Live Data Changes, Find it and File it, Fast.
Below is a list of social media sites, the list is endless, we are detailing only 6 of the most used Social networks in the United States below, we have based our choices to account for different demographic hotspots.
Facebook – www.facebook.com
2.8 billion Monthly users worldwide and growing.
65% of US Citizens use Facebook.
Instagram – www.instagram.com
Instagram is a hive of information on a person’s location, interest’s, connections and interactions, easy on the eye since Instagram is geared towards image content as the main driver.
Great way to collect data on what a person is doing, when they were doing it and where.
70% of Instagram users are under 35.
1.2 billion Users worldwide.
Tiktok – www.tiktok.com
The newcomer where Social media is concerned but growing very fast, approximately 700 million users worldwide.
Whilst Tiktok is available via the web, the network was designed to be an APP and data mining from Tiktok is limited compared to other social networks.
You can collect information such as a person’s Unique ID, the Music and imagery/videos they upload, totals of the likes and reactions. There is an in App messaging system within Tiktok for Private user to user discussions.
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com
Approximately 500 million users worldwide
71% of Pinterest users are Female.
50% of Pinterest Users are based outside the US.
Reddit – www.reddit.com
1 in 4 US Citizens age 25-29 are users of Reddit
Less than 6% of US Citizens over 50 user Reddit
69% of Reddit users are Male.
50% of reddit traffic comes from a desktop computer.
Whilst Reddit is nowhere near the size of some of the social networks already mentioned, it is content rich and can be a great resource for personality profiling. To get the best out of Reddit you really need to know your targets Reddit username but once you have this, you can easily build the profile based on their activity.
Snapchat – www.snapchat.com
Snapchat users in the US is over 100 million users, age range between 13-29 years old.
Definitely a low ranking site compared to the big guys but if you are targeting a youngster in the US, could be a goldmine.
A Good way to find some digital footprints of a person or even a place that you have a photo of is by using a Reverse Image Search.
Using the Image you have, you can copy this into a search for images and find digital footprints across the web for that image.
Here are some of options for Reverse Image Search Websites:
1. TinEye Reverse Image Search Engine www.tineye.com
TinEye is a reverse image search engine that helps you see where images are on the web
This tool lets you search by both URLs and uploaded images.
If you like this tool and you are a Chrome user, maybe consider adding the extension to Chrome so you can easily perform Tin Eye reverse Image searches directly from Chrome. One the extension is added to Chrome, just hover over the image and right click and click on Tin Eye Search, very useful tool for Chrome Users.
2. Google Reverse Image Search www.images.google.com
Just click on the Camera Icon and paste your image into google to perform a reverse image search.
We have looked at lots of different Reverse Image Search sites and results do not vary much from the above, so we recommend the above two for Reverse Image Searches bUt refer to your General OSINT Search engines and perform Image searches through these engines if you need to exhaust options or perhaps focus on a particular geographical country by using any country specific search in the list or of course any google country specific url.
If you think we are a little light on options and you wish to help your fellow professionals, please send your recommendations to us at [email protected]
Here is a list of reputable Background Check Specialists, most if not all are subscriber based, paywall.
Background Checks - www.backgroundchecks.com
LexisNexis - www.lexisnexis.com
Remember to cross reference your searches to get deeper into background checks, utilize all other search directories where necessary.
Many of you are probably aware of many such providers, one provider we have found that provides a wealth of information via their resources website is Hetherington Group who are really committed to passing on their knowledge to their fellow professionals.
If you seek good resources for all manner of subjects relating to Investigations, we recommend the following page: www.hetheringtongroup.com/insights/
Business Search Sites
Business data is everywhere and for the most part freely accessible, you can find out information on businesses via hundreds of resources. Below we have details some strong options and provided a bit of insight into what you can expect to find from a free search across these sites.
Finding employees of a company can be achieved using Linkedin, if the company has their own page, in some cases they detail their employees.
Amazon – www.amazon.com
Amazon is such a giant now and a lot of disputes arise because of its popularity, unauthorized or fake item sellers being just 2 examples of disputes which you may run into. Fortunately since 2020 Amazon.com has changed its process for sellers and now it is mandatory to publish your company information on amazon.com. Still, Amazon is so mainstream that many sellers on amazon operate under various LLC’s, this could be an attempt at monopolizing a market or maybe selling products at prices which are not authorized by the manufacturer.
Dunn & Bradsheet – www.dnb.com
Great for getting a depth free view of a company, their turnover, incorporation date, address, website and their principal party amongst many other useful bits of information.
Heaps of information on DNB which can give you lots of background information on a company.
Whilst DNB is a great tool, we have performed many searches on this site and the one area where they are not so accurate is a company’s revenue.
For European Business Searches we found a tool from the UK to be very effective:
Duedil – www.duedil.com
Free tool or can be paid for deeper information but much the same as DNB this site provides answers to a lot of pedigree data using the free web check, users can also see historical data relating to persons with significant control of a company, former and other business’s a person has links to. There is also an option to search throughout most of Europe and find the same information across many European countries.
Better Business Bureau – www.bbb.org
Here you can find company information on many companies across USA, Canada & Mexico.
Some companies are accredited with bbb and some are listed who are not, you can review previous complaints and get pedigree information from this website. The complaints listed sometimes show responses from the business and the complaints are informative and publically available once you enter a company name.
A lot of very important data cannot be found using traditional searches like google and other previously mentioned searches, below we have detailed a range of specialized search directories which may help you find information on a target.
National Sex Offender Public Website - www.nsopw.gov/en/Search/Results
Search Engine for Sex offenders, 2 Search methods on this site, by Name address and zip code and also just by Address up to 3 miles radius from the Address entered.
Global Terrorism Data Base – www.start.umd.edu/gtd/
Unofficial but extremely well maintained records on over 200’000 Terrorist attacks worldwide.
Web Archive – www.archive.org
Really useful tool to view historical pages of a website, type in the website you want to examine, if the website has been archived over the years you can literally jump back in time and view the website as it was in previous years.
This tool is limited to when and if a website has been archived on archive.org but after doing a lot of searches we found this site to be very useful and contains a lot of information on many sites big and small.
Domaintools - www.domaintools.com
Domaintools used to be the home of whois, more on whois below but domain tools is a very useful platform for everything related to internet threats, specialists in all manner of investigations including Internet Fraud, Phishing scams, Brand Protection and Threat Intelligence.
Whois – www.who.is
Whois can be a useful tool for identifying a website owner, in a lot of cases this data is protected and not shared by the search result but it is always worth a try if you are trying to find details of the person who owns a particular website. Just input the website name and the result will appear instantly.
Inmate Lookup - www.bop.gov/inmateloc/
Need to find information on someone who has served time inside a US prison? If you have details on the person or even information such as BOP Register Number, DCDC Number, FBI Number or INS Number, you can search the directory of inmates which keeps records nationwide since 1982. You can also search by name and D.O.B, ethnicity and Gender.
Fold3 - www.fold3.com/browse
Historical Data on Military Personnel throughout the US and many other countries.
Geolocation - www.geolocation.com – Get the location or VPN Location of an IP Address
Easy tool to quickly check an IP address, in some cases beware the location may be fake and look for any Proxy Server Information which may report on the VPN name that the IP Address is using to spoof its IP location.
Skype – Skype has changed a lot over the years and a lot of information is stored on Skypes people directory, if you have a lot of usernames or emails or just names, sometimes worth entering them into skype to see if you can get any hits.