OK, before anything, I’d like to point out that I will disavow whatever you choose to do with the information below. In other words, you’re entirely responsible for your own actions. If you don’t agree to this, then close this page and go watch Barney & Friends on YouTube or something.
Given the crappy condition of the property rental market right now, if you’re a landlord with a vacant unit, you’re probably as desperate as a dateless 18-year old boy nearing prom night. As such, you might be tempted to settle with any Ahmad, Muthu and Ah Beng that you can get to rent your place. That, my friend, could well be the biggest mistake you could ever make.
And I’m speaking from experience. Just two months ago I had almost rented out my beloved condo unit at Aseana Puteri to this lunatic before I found out that he had had spates with his former landlord on almost everything you ever could think of: from the color of the light bulbs of “not having the right temperature” to the little cuckoo bird who would come chirping at the balcony, disrupting his afternoon siesta. I thank the good Lord Buddha every night for sidestepping what could well be an epic clusterfluck of Titanic proportions.
Therefore, I cannot possibly understate the importance of doing background checks of whoever who wants to rent your precious property. And guess what, with free tools now which you can use online, you can find out what Ahmad / Muthu / Ah Beng did last Hari Raya / Deepavali / Chap Goh Meh. It’s really that easy, and I will show you how right now.
Google knows about lots of things. Heck, it even has the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
The first thing you need to do is to enter your tenant’s name into Google and perform a search. Of course, it helps if your tenant’s name is somewhat unique, like Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop (which is a real person, by the way).
If your tenant has got a generic name like Mat Nor bin Abu or Michael Tan Beng Seng or Subramaniam A/L Saravanan, then you’ve gotta bring your ninja search skillz on teh Googlez. First, get hold of his email address and then run a Google search. If he has posted on forums or blogs then you’ll see the company that he keeps and the crap that he posts online. You might well find that he’s living double or triple lives (like, holding a day job as a perfectly respectable piano teacher while moonlighting as a scummy get-rich-online Guru at night and a slimy multi-level marketing huckster during the weekends).
Don’t stop there. Like everyone else, he probably has multiple emails. Curiously, many retain the same handle when registering with different email providers as well as forums and blogs. For example, if Michael Tan’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org, then chances are that he uses the handle swingingdong78 everywhere he goes online. So, go to Google and enter swingingdong78 to see what other shenanigans that Mr Michael Tan is up to.
Finally, search for his phone number on Google. You’ll find out if he has harassed anyone (“who is this 01X-XXXXXXX and why is he calling me non-stop??”) or if he is a budding entrepreneur (“Berita baik untuk lelaki! Hanya $100 sebotol! Panggil 01X-XXXXXXX sekarang!”).
As a sidenote: I think everybody should Google their names from time to time just to see how much their personal information is exposed all and sundry for the world to see. For me, as you can see, I pretty much own the first page of Google for the query “Khai Yin”. And hooray for me, the news item of me robbing the Setiawalk 7-11 storekeeper is not seen anywhere within the first ten pages of Google1.
It’s trivial to find someone’s Facebook page and see what he makes public for the world to see – it’s the perfect opportunity to peek into his inner thoughts and see pictures of him in compromising positions if any. Take it a step further, set up a sock puppet Facebook account and add him as a friend. Pretending to be an attractive member of the opposite sex (complete with pictures) is proven to increase conversions by at least 1,500% according to our exhaustive experiments in the GoodPlace Labs. Use excuses like, “Hey, I thought you were cute.Wanna be friends?” Being accepted as a friend will reveal a ton of information – use your imagination!
To be extra sure, and especially if he’s the cautious kind, try adding one of his friends first. Look through his list of friends and target to add those who look especially lonely / desperate / hamsap. He is more likely to add you with a common friend.
You can repeat the above for practically every other social networking sites out there: LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram or if he’s an ancient fossil from zaman batu then maybe Myspace.
The following collection of tricks is particularly ninja, and is useful if your target has got a website or blog. Go to this site:- http://whois.sc and enter the URL – you’ll find the details of the registrar – name, organization, address and alternate emails. You now have more information about Mr Michael Tan to do Google and Facebook searches! Then, go to this link:- http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/web-sites-on-web-server/ – and then enter the URL of his site, and voila! You know have a list of all sites that he owns!
Next, head on to the (in)famous Internet Wayback Machine – http://web.archive.org – and enter this URLs, one-by-one. There, you will find an archive of everything he ever posted on his sites (and elsewhere if you know the URLs) – yes, even the pictures of him in compromising positions that he had deleted (or so he thought). For example, I found my own (non-compromising) pictures posted on my very first website coded back in 1997 here.
I guess I should stop here because I don’t want to open up the Pandora’s box by listing out even more ways to uncover anyone’s footprint on the web (some of which would probably make your blood curdle). If you’re in a situation where you’ve got a stinking suspicion that a would-be renter is a scumbag in sheep skin then let me know – I’ll try to help.
Sussing People Out For Fun And Profit
As you’ve probably realized by now, you can pretty much use the above to check the background of anyone you want (i.e. not just potential buyers or renters). Whatever you want to do with it is entirely up to how fertile your imagination is. On the other hand, if you think that you’ve been overexposed by the crap that you’ve posted about yourself online, and you want to protect yourself from getting stalked by others (i.e. your ex) then read this.
- Just kidding. For the record, I’ve never robbed anyone in my life. ↩