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Someone is looking for you. The web is full of websites and services that provide your details to others, sometimes free, sometimes for a fee.

It’s an uncomfortable sensation to know that your personal data can be used to track you. While it is unlikely that those looking would intend you harm, it is useful to know who is looking for you, and what tools they’re using to do so.

We’re going to take a look at several ways in which you can find out who is looking for you online. It might be a potential employer, former lover or even a long lost relative; or it could be someone looking to target you for identity theft 6 Warning Signs Of Digital Identity Theft You Shouldn't Ignore 6 Warning Signs Of Digital Identity Theft You Shouldn't Ignore Identity theft isn't too rare of an occurrence these days, yet we often fall into the trap of thinking that it'll always happen to "someone else". Don't ignore the warning signs. Read More .

Either way, it’s time to turn the tables, discover who is tracking you down, and make the necessary arrangements in the event they are successful.

Let the hunted become the hunter!

Use Google Alerts

The first thing you should do to find out who is looking for you is to ensure that you have Google covered. It might be wholly narcissistic to some to have an alert setup for any mentions of you 4 Things You Can Use Google Alerts To Monitor The Web For 4 Things You Can Use Google Alerts To Monitor The Web For Some of you may have forgotten due to all of their recent developments and projects on the side, but Google is still a search engine at its core. With tens of millions of pages indexed,... Read More on the web, but this is genuinely the first step in playing it safe.

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And anyway, who are you going to tell?

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Sign into Google and open www.google.com/alerts. Here, enter your name in the alert box at the top of the page and click Create Alert. Use the Show Options link to expand the view, enabling you to set how often email alerts will arrive and where they should be delivered. You’ll see a preview of your alerts too, to give you an idea of how they will look.

Now, whenever Google spots your name on a website, news page, forum or blog post, it will send you an email alert!

Look For Social Mentions

Similar to Google Alerts, but focusing on social networks that might see mention of your name is Mention.com, a web-based alert system that also offers mobile apps for Android and iPhone, as well as apps for Windows 8 and Chrome.

Signup is free for the standard service, and Mention also offers a 14 day trial of the fully featured service, which doesn’t require any card details, so it is definitely worth checking out.

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Once you sign up, sign in and create an alert. You can choose up to three conditions to the alert, as well as the preferred language. Click Next Step to proceed and select the sources you wish to use. These include blogs and forums along with Facebook and Twitter, and you can also filter sources you don’t wish to be used. As keeping track of who is looking at your profiles on these networks is more or less impossible, using an alert is the best alternative.

When you’re done, click Create My Alert and then Save. You also have the option to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to Mention for faster alerts.

As your alert – no doubt your name! – is detected by Mention, the web interface or your Mention app will be updated so you can instantly find out what context your name has been used in. Is someone looking for you?

Getting Headhunted?

A LinkedIn.com profile is incredibly useful for finding a new job, whether you’re a freelancer, an expert in your field or if you’re simply looking to change career LinkedIn Gives The Workforce Two New Tools To Manage Jobs And Careers LinkedIn Gives The Workforce Two New Tools To Manage Jobs And Careers LinkedIn has unveiled two new mobile tools. Mobile Work With Us and Recruiter Mobile should help to usher the recruitment process from the desktop to the mobile age. Read More . However, a presence on LinkedIn means that you can be found…

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Signing into the service will display a total of profile views for the current period. LinkedIn Premium members will see full details of those viewing them, whereas the standard free accounts will only display a handful.

If someone is using the service to track you down, there is a good chance that it is for work-related reasons. On the other hand, you might like to know just who is looking, and why. Using the LinkedIn Premium service is a good way to get a handle on this.

Could Long Lost Family Be Searching For You?

Mawkish reunions of long-lost family are ratings winners for TV networks, and are often responsible for people trying to track down distant (or close) relatives for a reunion after many years.

Various websites exist that can be used to track you and your family down under the auspices of family research. These adoption search sites (such as www.adopteeconnect.com) can be used to trace you, or your remote siblings. No adoption agency should allow contact with individuals without their consent; however, if you’re registered with one of these online services you should be aware that consent is given when you sign up.

Meanwhile, www.Ancestry.com has a huge database of living and dead people that could theoretically be used to track your current whereabouts down, at least in part. It is, of course, one of many excellent online tools for researching your family tree FREE EBOOK: Research Your Family Tree Online FREE EBOOK: Research Your Family Tree Online Could you be trying to understand your family, and the values that you and your siblings have? Read More but like many of the tools we’ve mentioned here, it can be misused.

You can see if you have been added to other family trees in Ancestry (members will be alerted when they’re added to other trees), but unfortunately cannot tell if anyone has checked yours or your ancestor’s details.

Use Alerts, Stay Aware!

People are always looking for you. They might be fans, friends, relatives, debt collectors, potential employers; or they might be criminals.

There is no way for you to know, so the best thing to do is attempt to manage all interest in you. Use the alerts from Google and Mention, consider setting up a premium account with Linkedin and make use of any website you might have available to you already, to focus all contact attempts through. If you don’t have your own site, you might use one of the many free services that will host a modest homepage 10 Ways To Create A Small And Simple Website Without The Overkill 10 Ways To Create A Small And Simple Website Without The Overkill WordPress can be an overkill. As these other excellent services prove, WordPress is not the be all and end all of website creation. If you want simpler solutions, there's a variety to pick from. Read More .

Have you been tracked down online? Do you wish to remain anonymous, or do you welcome contact from people looking for you? Let us know how you feel about it, and what you do to keep one step ahead.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

  1. Soniya Siva
    June 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for this article. I am going to try all of these out! Academia.org gives you updates when you someone looks you up and sees your profile there too.

  2. Aluko Bukola
    May 6, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Google Alerts won't tell you if someone is searching for you using Google search or any other browser tool. Steph is right. You could try brandyourself.com

  3. Shannon Byrne
    November 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Hey Christian! Great article. Thanks so much for including Mention. Mention also actually catches web alerts, much like Google Alerts. :) Let me know if you have any questions!

  4. GDNY
    November 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    These are not bad if you are looking for "easy ways" of finding out if people are looking for you. But it does seem like a pretty light weight way of using the term. I wouldnt really suggest these tools as the most reliable if I knew situation consisted of someone being stalked, as in a domestic violence situation or identity theft. More serious circumstances would require more sophisticated notifications.

  5. Saikat Basu
    November 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    The first question you should ask is why is someone looking for you. It could be an endorsement for something you are doing right. Someone is searching for your specific skillsets. Someone likes your social updates.

    I am looking at it positively. It can also be a telltale sign of cyberstalking. So, investigating that is important and these tools help.

  6. Steph
    October 30, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    What an oddly misleading article title and into. Setting up a Google alert does not alert you if someone is *looking for* you. If anything, it would be a tip for keeping tabs on your online mentions and reputation... but that's not quite the same.

    I think this article seems to be more about who is actively trying to contact you and how to make it more easier to allow them to or for you to find out that they are. via automated services. In which case, you should possibly mention sites like "classmates . com" and the 'long lost relations' and 'missed connections' sections of classifieds and how to set up rules/subscriptions/feeds for those.

    You nearly were onto something good when you mentioned a personal website. You can use cookies on a personal website to find out who might have googled you. 'Cause your ex (or whoever) googling you might not think to go be on Tor when casually searching for you whilst they're sitting on teh can taking a dump and and they'd possibly not think that they'll be tracked if they click on the personal website of the person they're google stalking.

    Also, if you want to know all of the info about yourself being posted online, those Google alerts should not only be set to your name, but variations there of, usernames, email addresses and phone numbers. And be careful about how you share any of that info in the first place.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 31, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Setting up a Google Alert *would* tell you if someone was looking for you, assuming quite reasonably that they asked around on forums and community boards using your name. :)

      (And, actually, it does.)

    • myggirl
      November 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I agree with you Steph. While Christian is technically correct, the most common form of searching for someone is a browser search tool. Oh wait, Google has one of those too. I am not aware of any tool outside the NSA :) that alerts you when a search engine queries specified parameters.

    • Anonymous
      December 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Google alerts will only tell you if someone writes about you. That's it.

  7. dragonmouth
    October 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Will Google Alerts alert you to Google looking at you?

    • Joe
      November 1, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Probably not, else it'd be notifying you every time you stepped near any Google service. ;)

  8. Mustafa Gaziani
    October 30, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Google alert is one of the best service of Google that alert us about new articles of targeted keyword.

    You've shared such a valuable post :)

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