Public Records Search

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What is a Public Records Search?

A public records search is any search of a record that is created and maintained by a government or private entity that is required to make those records available to the public. Public records searches may be very broad or very specific. They can be conducted as part of an individual Background Check or incorporated into a Reverse Lookup to find owner information. For example, searching through a sex offender or violent offender registry is one type of public records search, which, unlike many searches does not need to begin with a specific individual, but instead may begin by looking at a specific area. One common use of public records searches is to examine the tax status of certain pieces of property in order to determine if the property may be facing a tax sale or to trace ownership in order to attempt to purchase the property or enforce zoning laws against the property owners. Other public records searches are more comprehensive and focused. For example, BeenVerified’s Background Check service includes a comprehensive examination of the public records associated with the person being checked.

Can a Record-Keeper Limit My Access to Public Records?

Yes. While public records are generally managed in a way to promote freedom of information and public access to publicly maintained information, record-keepers can take steps to limit general access to that information. These limitations can vary from state to state and may even be impacted by local or municipal ordinances governing access to public records. One common limitation on access to public records is that the record keeper make them available during business hours. For someone conducting a public records search from a different location, this limitation might have the impact of limiting access to the record. In addition, some records are created and maintained by the government, but are not considered public records in terms of access. Juvenile court records are one such record. Portions of an individual’s income tax return may also be redacted in a Freedom of Information Act request.

What Can I Learn from Public Records?

Depending on how much interaction a person has had with official governmental entities, a person can learn a significant amount of background information by conducting a public records search. Public records have the ability to reveal information about a person, provided that person has interacted in ways that would be recorded in the public record. These ways include birth certificates, death certificates, bankruptcies, legal proceedings, marriages, divorces, and child support orders. This is especially true if someone runs multiple public record searches. For example, running a public record search on a single individual should reveal that person’s parents, and, then, by running searches on the parents, one might then discover siblings. The use of multiple searches, using information gained from each public records search can create a significant amount of information available about a single person. Public records are not solely about people. One of the most basic uses of public records is to discover who owns a piece of property to make an offer for sale on the property or for the purposes of establishing liability in the event of damages related to that property. Public records can also provide information about criminal convictions. Public records include most of a person’s official criminal record, and also information about births, bankruptcies, and legal judgments, which can give some insight into a person’s nature.

What is the Freedom of Information Act and how does it Impact My Access to Public Information?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal act allowing individuals access to federal agency records unless those records are specifically protected from public disclosures by statutory exemption contained in the act. There is a misunderstanding that the FOIA is linked to the maintenance of public records; in fact, public records are generally maintained separately from other agency records and can be accessed absent an FOIA request. However, there is a significant exception that is critical to people who are conducting Background Checks on themselves by looking at information that is available in the public record. If some of the information about the subject of the search falls under one of the statutory exceptions to the data available under an FOIA request, then a person cannot generally get access to that information. Some individuals may be able to get that information on themselves, if they can provide proof of identity to the agency from which they are requesting such information. That same information may be available to a third party via subpoena or court-order. Therefore, if a general Background Check does not provide the information needed about the subject of a search, one can always seek legal advice about how to obtain that information.

Why Should I Use BeenVerified for My Public Records Search?

BeenVerified has access to information from federal, state, and locally maintained databases. . Moreover, our searches are fast, easy, and affordable. Rather than requiring you to navigate numerous websites and figure out how to conduct searches through different venues, we use a single web-based software to allow our users to conduct multiple, simultaneous public record searches. In addition, we provide a personal touch that most of our competition does not. If you find that you need access to records that are only available in person, we have a court runner service that can access local courthouse records, which makes our access go beyond the records that are available on-line. This court-runner service can save users considerable time and expense, making it possible to easily access records that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to retrieve. Most importantly, we have live customer support. Encounter difficulties with your public records search and help is just a phone-call away; our live human customer support specialists are available 8am-9pm weekdays and 12pm-8pm on weekends at our toll-free number 1-888-579-5910.