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Uses for a Public Records Search

  • November 30, 2006
  • by PInow Staff

Different types of public records searches generate different results and information. Anyone interested in getting timely, accurate public records searches conducted needs to consult with a private investigator to get real results.

Public records searches are big news. One keyword popularity tool estimates that there are well over 250,000 searches done on a monthly basis in the United States for public records and variations of the search. Newspapers and the media are filled with debates about privacy laws and internet public records searches. It seems that with the age of information and the information superhighway, more people than ever before are interested in finding out as much as possible and worrying about who is finding this information.

Why Use a Public Records Search?

There are many types of public records searches, and each one has its specific uses:

  • Real estate records: These records are useful for finding out who owns a specific property and what legal problems may exist with a property. In some cases, these types of public records searches also reveal the history of a property's ownership. Homebuyers often find this type of search useful, as it reveals possible problems with a title and with a property. Historians will often use this type of research to uncover the history of a place, whereas investigators in a criminal investigation will sometimes use this type of search to find possible suspects. If a crime being investigated occurred some time ago, this type of search reveals who was living in the house at the time. Attorneys involved in a lawsuit will often use this type of public records search to find out who is legally responsible for a property on which an accident or legal problem occurred.

  • Lien filings. This type of public records search reveals whether there are any clouds on a title. If there are previous judgments, tax claims, or legal claims against a property, this type of search will reveal it. Anyone running this type of search before buying a property can save themselves some expensive legal hassle down the road. In some cases, this type of public records search is also used to determine whether a prospective business partner or client makes a good risk. This type of records search can show whether an individual has had financial problems in the past.

  • Business entity filings. This public records search can reveal details about a company such as ownership, location, and date when a company was established. This type of public records search is often used in corporate investigations, trademark investigations, and business investigations. A company wanting to know about a competitor can find out more information through this type of public records search.

  • Court records: Records of divorces, court cases, judgments, and criminal cases are important records. Many investigators use this type of public records search when running certain types of background checks. Business investigators use this public records search to determine whether prospective business partners or clients make a good match. This public records search is also important in pre-dating screening, when someone may want to know whether a potential romantic interest has a criminal history. Attorneys use this type of public records search to establish whether a defendant has a history of legal problems or a pattern of criminal behavior.

  • Death records. Genealogists and historical researchers use this type of public records search to determine family and personal histories. Investigators of fraud will also sometimes use this kind of public records search to determine whether someone has been using a false identity (criminals sometimes use a deceased person's identity, as a living person will often notice credit problems and other signs of fraud).

The Problems with Public Records Searches

Although a public records search can obviously be quite useful, it is not always a great investigative option. Many public records contain errors and inaccuracies. In some cases, the wrong information is supplied to the body in charge of creating public records, and in other cases, the wrong information is typed into public records. The problem is even worse when online databases are used for public records search. Because the records in this type of online public records search have been processed twice once when someone entered the public record originally and once again when a data entry clerk typed the record into the online database the search may be very inaccurate. Some online databases offering public records search services do not enter updates or corrections made to the original documents.

Even in cases where public records are accurate, mistakes can still occur with public records searches. Public records contain only a small part of the story hidden records may give a far more accurate depiction of a person or place. Plus, some people use aliases or travel to or from other countries. In these cases, a public records search may uncover very little about a person.

Running a Good Public Records Search

Anyone who needs accurate public records search run for any reason needs to consult a qualified private investigator. Professional investigators have access to public records that most of the public are not allowed to view. Plus, private investigators hand-check public records for accuracy and mistakes. A good, experienced investigator will also use a number of investigative techniques, not just a public records search to come up with real solutions and answers for clients. If you want real results, and not just a public records search, look to the PInow.com Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators to find local, qualified private investigators who can help you with your search.

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