Did you know that a large amount of important information is freely available to the public through public records searches? If you’re a title, legal or lending professional, you know the importance of dependable public search results. However, you may not know the full range of useful information that public records can provide. Let’s explore in depth the benefits and applications of public records information.
Choosing a Public Records Information Service
Simply put, a public records search is the research and reporting of facts that are publicly available, but accessing them can be complex, and you’ll need an intermediary to find what you’re looking for. While the government may be able to provide public records searches, a search by a private firm is faster than a request for a search through the government, and it can be conducted entirely online. Experts or advanced software will navigate regulations on what information can be made public, where it is, how it’s stored and how it’s distributed.
In order for public records searches to be reliable and useful for professional purposes, look for firms that are certified and provide title-quality information, and if you need records information in a rush, an online service is a good option, as it can be accessed day or night. However, you still need to know what kind of public records search you need.
Personal Public Records
There are three major types of public records. The first is personal public records, which are records of individuals and contain identifying details from a person’s life, typically logged by public agencies. This can involve major life events, affiliations and identifiers including:
- Birth certificates
- Deeds and mortgages
- Family members
- Voter registration
- Criminal records, warrants and arrests
If you’re conducting a public records search on yourself, you’re probably trying to know what personal information is out there so that you can be prepared to answer for that information in situations like background checks. If you’re a professional conducting a search on an individual for purposes such as providing a loan, much of this information is highly useful for determining the general character of the individual.
Government Public Records
Another major type of public records is government public records. These are searches of the records of public agencies, and they tend to be of greater complexity than personal searches. Since this includes a broad range of search types important to professionals, let’s take a brief look at some of the different institutional public records searches that are available.
- Judgment searches allow you to search a database of major court records, including the records of superior courts, district courts, bankruptcy courts and more, in order to find any liens or money judgments against a given name. This is particularly helpful in child support searches, and some providers can return reports to you in minutes.
- Name searches are searches for public information about a particular individual. This is useful for litigation searches, which search for information about plaintiffs or defendants through the public records of the US District Court, state district courts and state superior courts. For convenience and accuracy, they should be customizable by date range, county and more. Name searches are also important in real estate transactions, as the Patriot Act requires that anyone involved in the transaction must be checked against a list of known and suspected terrorists. As with judgment searches, a good private firm will be able to provide the results in minutes.
- UCC document handling includes filing and searching UCC documents. A UCC document is a legal form used by creditors to give notice of interest in the property of a debtor. Filings can also include amendments, terminations, assignments and releases, and be returned to the client with a filing date and UCC number. For a complete picture, you can ask the firm that is conducting the UCC provide a certification that shows any changes made to the filings, including terminations, as well as copies of the original documents.
Business Public Records
Business records searches, like government public records, are institutional information recorded internally and made publicly available. Kept by businesses, these records are even broader, and perhaps more important to professionals, than government records. They include:
- Corporate status reports, which reflect the status of the business and include registered agent information and previous and associated names of the business.
- Certificates of good standing verify the legal status of business entities and prove that they are authorized to conduct business. They can be delivered in a short form that lists necessary information, or in a long form that supplements that information with either important documents or with the names and addresses of any members and officers on record.
- Franchise tax lien searches calls on database information to ensure that there are no liens against your business for not paying taxes required by the Corporation Business Act.
- Corporate information searches can provide annual reports and the names of registered agents, officers and directors of a corporation.
- Annual reports are submitted by most companies annually and include a company’s current officers and directors.
- Registered Agent Letters and Officers and Directors Letters provide the name of a company’s registered agent or its officers and directors, respectively, and can include addresses on file.
Other Significant Records Searches
There are a couple of records searches that are likely of particular interest to title agencies because they deal with properties and allow the agent to understand as much as possible about the history and current status of the land. These include:
- Property searches, which should be conducted before buying a piece of land. They help determine riparian rights, which allocate ownership of bodies of water.
- Foreclosure review searches provide thorough information about a foreclosed property, the foreclosure ruling and the parties involved, while noting any irregularities so that the agent can be informed about potential legal challenges.
Make Public Information Work for You
There’s more information out there than ever, and whether checking the data available on your own person or your company or trying to find out about a separate individual, an institution or a property, public records searches make that information available to you. At the same time, State Capital’s innovative technology makes managing that information easier and more convenient than ever. If you’re a legal, lending or title professional and you’d like to take advantage of all that a state-of-the-art public records search has to offer, contact the best in the industry today.