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Public Records Can Answer A Lot Of Questions

Aug 17, 2007
While it's true public records laws vary from state to state, there are certain documents that are open to anyone to peruse. These documents can help people who bother to look into them find out a world of information that can guide good decision-making. Whether it's a public records check for an employment situation or a man or woman checking another person out to make sure they're a "safe" date, a check on a person's background isn't out of the question in this day and age.

Thanks to the Internet, public records checks are fairly simply to perform, too. Again it will depend on the state in question, but in general a whole host of information is available for public records checks. Depending on where you go and what records you want, the process is generally as simple as requesting the documents and perhaps paying a little fee for the government agency's trouble.

To properly perform a public records check on a person, it's very likely you'll need their full legal name, date of birth and even Social Security number to proceed. Government agencies generally won't give out the information without making sure the person you're requesting documents on is the person they are pulling files on. Without this information, it's very possible an employer might pull records on John B. Doe rather than John A. Doe. The mix up could cost an honest person a job, so government agencies try to avoid the confusion by requiring good identifying information up front. If you don't have the basic information, don't count on getting files in return.

Here are some of the most common forms of public records that can be had by anyone on anyone:

* Arrest records. If a legal adult has been arrested, the details of the crime (unless sealed by a court) are open for anyone to look at. This means arrest reports, convictions and so on can all be opened for perusal. A caution on arrest records, however, is the fact that an arrest doesn't mean guilt. Court records will be needed to determine that.
* Speaking of court records, these are usually open to the public. Some types of records will be sealed or partially sealed to protect victim identity, but in general, divorce proceedings, criminal hearings and so on can be picked up in transcript form.
* Property records. The ownership of buildings, homes and plots of land is public record. If the property is on the tax roll, the information about who owns it can be found through a simple records request.
* Driving records. The availability of these will vary from state to state, but generally these records are open to the public. If a person breaks the law, and they're an adult, they pretty much forfeit their rights to privacy in this type of case.

Getting public records on people is a fairly simple undertaking thanks to the Internet. Many agencies allow online queries into backgrounds and there are even programs that can help simplify the search even more. Checking into a person's background isn't "sneaky" and it's not underhanded. In this time of identity theft, and increased crime, it is just a smart thing to do.
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