Why Search Public Records?

Public records are documents or information which are not considered to be confidential. They are assembled from publicly and commercially available sources. They include records governed by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which are accessible to the public in the United States. The type of information and level of detail found in such records can be astounding, and conducting a search of public records for information may be useful in a number of circumstances. For example, public records may be used to:


  • Conduct genealogy research. Vital records, including birth, death, marriage and divorce records can provide helpful information in conducting family research. Not only will you find direct family relationship links, but you will find important dates, locations or the names of other family members that may lead you to new family branches.
  • Research potential partners. Trust is an important part of any relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is business, social or anything in between. A search of criminal, marriage and divorce records can verify information or reveal facts that were previously unknown and that may have a significant impact on whether or not you would like to deal with a particular individual or not. Such information can be vitally important when you are looking for health care providers for elderly parents, or even potential mates via online dating.
  • Conduct real estate negotiations. A search of property records is useful in obtaining information relevant to real estate negotiations. Property records may reveal encumbrances that the property is subject to and the priority of debtors. In addition, this type of research can offer property history and valuations, which could be relevant in putting together an offer for purchase.
  • Conduct consumer research. Unfortunately, there are many times when consumers may experience problems with businesses or products found in the marketplace. In these situations, it may be helpful to know if other consumers have had similar issues. Consequently, a search of court records may be helpful in identifying similar consumer concerns.
  • Conduct litigation research. If you are party to a lawsuit, it may be helpful to investigate other parties to the suit to determine if the other party or parties have been engaged in similar lawsuits and how the other parties may have acted in previous litigation.

These are just a few of the primary uses of the information that may be found via a search of public records, but there are many more. Though conducting such searches can be time consuming, the information that may be uncovered could prove to be invaluable in a number of situations and well worth the time and effort. See our article, Tips for Searching Public Records for time saving advice on how to conduct an efficient search of public records.