Consumers Gain Access to Public Records

Public Record Aggregates Help Consumers

Public records comprise an enormous amount of information, including everything from a person’s credit history to their criminal record, their marital status, tax status, legal action and much, much more. As such, public records are tremendously powerful tools in the hands of many different people. How can public records be used? Where can you access them? Actually, while you can gain limited access to these records through traditional sources such as your local courthouse, better options have emerged with the onset of the Information Age. Public record aggregates offer consumers, businesses, nonprofit organizations, youth organizations, school administrators and more, access to these records. What are public record aggregates? Where can you find them?

While you might think that, due to the immensity of the information involved, public records would be confined to hardcopy format, more and more localities and authorities are transferring these documents into electronic format. Therefore, the best place to gain access to public records is through the Internet. In fact, the online environment has become the single best place to locate information concerning a person’s background and criminal past. Public record aggregates stand as the most efficacious tool in the hands of anyone in need of background screening services.

How do public record aggregates work? What is their actual goal? What separates these entities into “good” and “bad” choices? Here, you will find the information that you need to make sense of public record aggregates and make an informed choice concerning your information needs.

What Are Public Record Aggregates?

Simply put, public record aggregates are companies or organizations that provide consumers and others with access to public records, including background check services, criminal record searches, residential history, credit history and numerous other searches. These organizations exist in the online environment and make their enormous record databases available to the public for use in almost any situation. However, there are numerous types of public record aggregates out there. Which one is right for your situation?

State-Sponsored Aggregates – With the increasing number of sex offenders and other hardened criminals released into the general populace, most states have found it necessary to provide the pubic with access to some form of public and criminal record search. These aggregates are usually found through state government websites, though they might also be hosted on the state’s Justice Department website, or even maintained by another division of the government.

As you might imagine, state-sponsored public record aggregates specialize in providing criminal record checks, mostly to consumers. However, they tend to focus more on sexual deviants, rather than any other type of criminal, (though you will find some states that take a more wide-ranging stance to the situation). In addition, most of these websites require an active account (usually fee-based) to access the diversity of records held therein. Finally, these public record aggregates do not provide access to any other type of public record, other than criminal history, so their effectiveness is quite limited.

Nonprofit Public Record Aggregates

You will find a few nonprofit organizations that offer you the ability to search public records. However, much like state-sponsored options, these aggregates are extremely limited in scope. In addition, their accuracy is highly questionable, as they are not held to any industry standard. In short, should you choose to make use of these search options, you do so at your own risk.

Third Party Public Record Aggregates

If you demand a bit more in the way of comprehensiveness, then third party public record aggregates are the best choice for your needs. What are these organizations? Once more, they are found on the Internet. However, unlike state-sponsored search systems, you will learn that these aggregates offer much more in the way of information and accuracy.

Technically, all third party public record aggregates are “for profit” organizations. They all require a fee before you can search their records, though some will also a free preliminary search in order for new users to “test the waters.” As such, those that allow you to test the system and its effectiveness are the best options for your informational needs. What other criteria should be included in your decision?

First, you should only choose a public record aggregate that offers you the most detailed results possible. Numerous providers can give you basic search results, but few are capable of offering all the information that you truly need. Considering the incredible importance of a public record check, it is essential that you have access to the most information possible.

Second, you should only choose to work with a company that has the best compliance in the industry. The provider you choose should be in compliance with GLB, FCRA and DPPA regulations. Choosing a provider that is not within compliance can compromise the quality and accuracy of your search results and you might find yourself paying for public records that are not worth a thing.

There are quite a few questions that you should ask yourself when considering a company for public record searches. These include the following:

• Does the company provide a maiden name search?
• Does the company offer phone number history?
• Does the provider offer secure transactions and searches?
• Does the provider feature an excellent privacy policy?
• How confidential is the provider? Will the person you are researching know that you have requested information about him or her?
• Does the company offer property ownership searches?
• Does the company offer Social Security number verification?
• Does the company check civil records during the search process?

Answering each of the questions above is important and will help ensure that you are able to find the public record search provider that works best for your needs. In addition, if you run across a provider that makes hyped-up claims and sounds as though they are too good to be true, they likely are and should be avoided.