Understanding Public Records

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Understanding Public Records 101


Public records refer to documented information about individuals and transactions that is easily accessible to the public. In the United States, access to national public records is directed by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This means that though they are available for public use, access to public records comes with certain limitations. One example would be the California Public Records Act (PRA), which states, “except for certain explicit exceptions, personal information maintained about an individual may not be disclosed without the person’s consent.”

What kind of information do  public records contain?

Some common types of public records are records on birth, death, marriage, divorce, criminal offenses, bankruptcy, and liens. Other types include records on law court proceedings, statistics of population and economic activity of a state or country, census, court dockets, government spending reports, consumer protection information, legislation minutes, professional and business licenses, real estate appraisals, voter registration, and even sex offender listings.

What can be considered as public documents vary depending on the state where you are located. In some states, public records may include information on certifications, unemployment claims, tax, deeds, campaign contributions, and more. Many people are not aware of the range of information that can be found in public documents. They are often surprised to discover that much of their personal information can be readily and easily accessed by others.

There are many reasons for accessing public-records. One of the most common purposes is for background checks. Background checks have become an indispensable part of the employment hiring process. Employers are always on the lookout for unscrupulous applicants or those with questionable backgrounds that they want to keep out of their companies.

To prevent dubious candidates from getting in, background searches using records are conducted. Employers check on a person’s educational background, credit history and criminal records to uncover aspects about one’s life that can affect his or her credibility and qualifications. They usually go through multiple databases to find these key pieces of information.

Another use of records search is for people search. Whether it’s a long-lost family member, a friend you haven’t gotten in touch with for a long time, or a person who owes you money and has been hiding from you, you may be able to obtain information about the individual’s whereabouts by accessing records.

Records can also serve well in court proceedings. For example, if you’re in the middle of a divorce trial, claiming custody of your children, you might find certain information on public documents useful in getting what you want. Or if there’s a criminal investigation going on, records may hold details that can serve as evidence and help uncover the truth.

There are lots of uses for public documents. Should you find any need to access records, you’ll be glad to know that the internet has made it convenient to accomplish this task in total privacy. Numerous websites now offer such service either for free or at a minimal fee. Most specialize in a particular type of information, while others give you access to all types of information. For more information about public records feel free to browse other entries on this blog or to search public records now please visit this link to try one of the premier sources of updated public records databases.