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How Can I Find Someone?

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First Step

Try to find out where a person is by talking with family members, co-workers and friends of that person. Look in the phonebook, too. You might also be able to find them through one of the other options listed below.

Tip:  keep a recordKeep a record of all the ways you tried to find a person involved in your case. If you cannot find them, you may still be able to "serve" your papers by mail or by publishing a legal notice in a newspaper. You also may need to get a court order or tell the court what the steps you took to try to find that person. 

Personal data that may be useful in your search could include:

full legal name former legal names professional licenses
birth date nicknames employers
last known address schools  
last known phone number vehicles & property owned  

Court Records Search

MN courthouses have public computers where you can search Minnesota court records. If the person has a traffic violation or other case you may find their contact information on record with the court. Some records can be viewed on the court's website at MNCIS - MPA Court Records.

U.S. Post Office "Mail Forward"

If you have a last-known address for someone who you think has moved, you might also be able to fill out a form at the U.S. Post Office in their procedure for Request for Change of Address or Boxholder Information Needed for Service of Legal Process (see Exhibit-5-2(b). Depending on the circumstances, the Post Office may be able to give you forwarding information they had for that address, even if the time-frame to forward mail has expired.

Driver and Vehicle Information

If you know the person's full name and birth date, you may be able to do a record request through the MN Dept of Driver and Vehicle Services. Look for the "Record Request" form.

Birth and Death Records

Birth and death records may lead to useful information. These records are maintained by the MN Dept. Public Health.

Persons Who May Have Died

For people you think may be deceased, you could request a search of Social Security records for a fee under the "Freedom of Information Act" Request process.

Persons in the Military

For people you think are or have been in the military, you can search a free online database at the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

Prison Inmates

For people you think may be in the custody of the MN Dept. of Corrections, you may use the MN Offender Locator to search for a name. Most states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have inmate and offender databases online.

Licensed Professionals

If you think someone has a professional license (e.g., appraiser, insurance agent, mortgage broker, etc.), you could search the online database at the MN Dept. of Commerce. Many states have similar online databases. There is also a nation-wide license database at the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation.

Lawyers licensed to practice law in Minnesota can be found online at MN Attorney Registration. Most other states have similar online databases.

Legal Process Server

You may have to use a legal process server to do a "skip tracing" on the person. There may be a fee for this service.

Internet Search

You may be able to locate someone by searching for them on the internet. You could start by using a web search engine (e.g., Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.) to search for a name, phone number, or email address. Please note that there are companies whose business is to collect and sell personal information about people. If you visit the website for a company like that, they may charge fees to get the information.


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