What Are Public Records? What Can You Find There?

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Before you get started with your first search for the best public records search, first you need to understand what these records are and what they have to offer you. The amount of information available on these records databases may surprise you. You’ll find everything from court records to records of government agencies. Even record with personal information can be considered a part of public records, meaning you or anyone else can access it.

Understanding What Public Records Are

The state you live in will have an effect on what a public record is. Many states have special laws that define what is contained in public records. However, in most cases, you’ll find that they include marriage and divorce records, birth and death records, bankruptcy records, criminal records, and more. Every state is also required to provide information about any convicted sex offenders. The people searches you see online use these sources, as do those who provide background checks. In most cases, this requires visiting various databases to collect all of the information.

Reasons Public Records Exist

There are many reasons that a piece of information might be considered a matter of public record. In some cases, it is provided as a safety measure. This would apply when talking about the sex offender registry. You might also find other protective information that is important for everyone to have access to, such as recalls on products or consumer safety reports. In other cases, it is simply believed that the information should be freely available, such as is the case with birth or death records.

The Cost to Access Public Records

You might wonder if public records are free and, in many cases, this is true. You can find federal, state, county, and city information available for no charge. This includes data about the census, tax liens, property information, court records, and bankruptcies. However, just because the information is free, that doesn’t mean that it will be simple to find. Most of these items are on various government websites, and it can take time to discover where.

That said, there are also websites that gather together all of this information for you and then charge a fee to search through it. Either case is an option, depending on how important the information is and how quickly you need it.

All in all, if you choose to look for public records on your own, be polite if you need to interact with someone. Remember that you are entitled to the information but that playing nice can make the process a lot easier. In addition, while it is free to view these records in most cases, there may be a charge to duplicate it by copying or other methods. If you want the easiest method, going through a website that aggregates public records may be the best option. However, you will likely have to pay a fee in return for the convenience of the service.

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