- Effects of Cyberbullying: Complete Guide for Parents
- What is the DPPA?
- Petty Theft: Definition and Consequences
- What is a Life Sentence?
- How to Find Out if Someone Has a Warrant?
- Marriage License vs Certificate: Everything You Need to Know
- The Ten Most Popular Celebrity Mugshots
- How to Find Out if Someone is Married?
- How to Stop Phone Spoofing?
- How To Avoid Probate
- Dealing with abandoned vehicles in your neighborhood
- How to Find Someone's Cell Phone Number by Their Name
- Who Are the Worst Drivers in America?
- How To Find Unclaimed Money From Deceased Relatives
- What is a Digital License Plate?
- How to Find out if Someone Died?
- Murder vs Manslaughter: The Differences and Definitions
- How to Hire a Private Investigator?
- What Is a Number Neighbor?
- How to Find Out if Someone was Arrested
- How to Find Someone's Birthday?
- What is a Car Title
- How to Obtain a Police Report and Court Records?
- Filing a false police report
- Prison Valley: Look inside Prison Town
- How to Get Custody of a Child Without Going to Court?
- How to Find Someone’s Social Media Profiles?
- What to Do if Your Phone Is Tapped?
- What Is a Deed in Real Estate?
- Where Was The First US Federal Penitentiary Established?
- How to Find Someone's Location Using Their Cell Phone Number?
- What Is a Restricted Call?
- Who is the Most Dangerous Prisoner in the World?
- Poshmark Scams: How to Prevent and Report Them
- How to Find a Missing Person?
- How to Send Money to a Federal Inmate?
- DUI vs DWI: What're The Differences
- How Long After Buying a Car Do You Need to Register it?
- How to Find out Where Someone Lives?
- What Happens If You Get Caught Driving a Car Without Interlock
- Situational Crime Prevention: Theory, Techniques and Examples
- How Can I Find Out Who Called Me for Free?
- Gun Free Zone Statistics and Facts
- Online Threats and Digital Security: Trends, Types and Most Common Examples
- Cold Cases Guide for Police Officers and Investigators
- Court Order: Meaning, Types and Examples
- What Does a Fingerprint Background Report Show?
- How to Check Your Criminal Record?
- What is Tort Law?
- How to Calculate Child Support
- Property Rights: Definition, and Characteristics
- 12 Common Uses of Public Records
- US Antitrust Law
- Virginia Gun Confiscation Law
- How Do You Find Out Who Own a Property?
- Neighborhood Watch Program
- How to Perform a Mugshot Search?
- Crime Mapping
- Safest Colleges in Florida
- Veterans Guide to Cars and Driving
- U.S. Correctional System: Structure, Incarceration and Facts
- License Plate Laws in the US
- How to Locate Inmates and Access Jail Records?
- Email Hacking: Laws, Penalties and Protection
- Romeo and Juliet Laws
- Holiday Safety for Home and Family
- Differences between Criminal and Arrest Records
- Public Records and Property History: What is Public Information and What Isn’t
- How to Look up an Immigration Detainee?
- Famous Prisons in the USA
- How to Find Out Who Owns a Vehicle Using Reverse Lookup Tools
- How to Search for Your Family Tree?
- The Federal Judicial Center
- Mass Incarceration in the USA
- What is COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act)?
- Data Safety After The Capital One Breach
- Scholarships Guide for Students
- Complete Guide to Student Safety
- What Is a Vehicle Identification Number?
- Determining Divorce: 5 Types of Divorce You Must Know
- Sex Offenders: Complete Guide to be Protected
- New Privacy Laws and Public Records
- Motor Vehicle Registration in the US
- Digital Token Age: Security Laws and Regulations
- Copyright Law and Facial Recognition Technology
- What Shows up in a Background Report
- Car Repossession Laws: Dealing with Car Dealers and Auto Fraud
- How to Protect Yourself from Phone Scams
- Human Rights in the Prison
- Business Competition: Laws and Policies
- Hate Crimes: Reasons, Stats and Facts
- Starting a Business and Business Licenses
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Guidance
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Tax Reform Impact and Changes To Know
- Self-Driving Cars: Laws and Regulations
- White-Collar Crime: Statistics and Facts
- Have You Been Arrested? Cases You'll Need a Lawyer
- Getting a driver's license in the US: What to Know
- Car Theft in the US: Prevention and Facts
- Identity Theft Passport Program
- Changing your Name after Marriage: What You Need to Know
- Finding the Perfect Roommate: Dos and Donts
- What if You Get Into a Car Accident? A Complete Checklist
- Property Crimes: How to Burglar Proof Your Home
- Consumer Laws in the US: What Do They Mean for a Customer and a Business Owner
- Child Trafficking: The Scope, Understanding, and Prevention
- Business Assets: A Guide to the Financial Health of your Business
- Guide To The College Application: How, When and Where to Apply
- Which States Have “Stand Your Ground” Laws?
- Adolescent Depression Symptoms and Causes
- Things to Know About the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory System
- Inheritance in the US: With & Without a Will
- Online Dating Safety Guide for Men and Women
- Sexual Abuse in the U.S.: Laws and Statistics
- Supporting Children After Divorce: Child Custody Options
- Halloween Horrors Come to Life: Holidays Crimes in the U.S.
- Charity Scams in the U.S.: Be Aware and Protected
- Webcam Hacking & Spying in the US
- Sex Offender Search
- Freedom of Religion in the U.S.
- Senior Financial Scams: How are the Elderly Targeted and How to Avoid It
- Catcalling: Is it illegal? How to Deal With It
- A Complete Guide To Insurance Fraud: Common Types and Prevention
- Sextortion: What to Do if You Became a Victim of Blackmailing
- Concealed Carry: How to Protect Yourself on Campus
- Debt Collection Laws | Fair Debt Collection Act: What You Need To Know
- How Much Is My House Worth? Ultimate Guide to Home Buying and Selling
- What are the Traits of a Sociopath?
- Do You Know Who Your Neighbors Are?
- Learn How to Find Your Birth Parents
- The Importance of Public Records in Law
- Do You Know What's the Difference Between Jail and Prison?
- Homeowner’s Insurance, Is it a Public Record?
- The Disturbing Facts of Gun Violence in America
- How to Use Public Records in Marketing
- Best & Worst Cities for Driving
- LGBT Bullying
- What You Need to Know When Buying or Selling a Used Car?
- School Safety and Security Standards
- Guide to Making Your DMV Experience Hassle Free
- How to Prepare For an Active Shooter Incident
- How to Report a Crime?
- How to Protect Yourself Against Cyber Attacks
- 50 Things to Know When Filing for Divorce
- What to Do When You Are Stopped By the Police
- Tips for Back-to-School Safety and Security
- Guide to Filing for Bankruptcy
- How to Appeal the Court's Decision
- A User's Guide to Warrants
- How to Fight a Traffic Ticket?
- Keeping Your Neighborhood Safe For Your Family
- A Parent's Guide to Keeping Your Child Drug-Free
12 Common Uses of Public Records
Public records are documents that generally pertain to the operation of government. While an individual may peruse public records to learn more about their neighbors (including their levels of education, number of children living with them, where they work, their political affiliation, etc.) these records are used by a variety of industries, primarily for planning purposes.
Where to Find Public Records?
The scope of public records is broad, as cities and towns collect and keep all sorts of data on individuals, from birth, marriage, and death certificates to property ownership records, professional licenses, lists of residents that include their ages, professions, level of education, family members, and criminal records. While many records can be found at city hall (if you have the patience to visit several department offices), others are held at the county clerk’s office (such as property records), state vital records offices (birth and death), or the clerk of courts office (for criminal records or court proceedings). Prison records can be searched as well, to find out who’s incarcerated there. RecordsFinder.com is another source of public records, culled from official sources and available online and in one place.
Government documents that are not public or are not released freely include birth and death certificates, due to the opportunity to steal someone’s identity, Internal Revenue Service records (tax returns), medical records, and the criminal records of juveniles. Arrest records are somewhat discretionary, as police in some areas are starting to withhold that information until an individual is charged. Some court documents, including official divorce decrees that spell out the terms of a divorce settlement, may also be held confidential due to the sensitive nature of the information they contain.
Reasons private individuals may consult public records include:
1. genealogy research;
2. purchase or sale of a parcel of land or home;
3. obtain birth certificate for a passport or other official government document;
4. to find out if a person has been married before (and if they are legally divorced);
5. find out who owns a business;
6. find out how much neighbors paid for their house;
7. determine if a contractor is licensed and bonded;
8. to research the quality of the public drinking water or chemical spills;
9. find out if a surgeon has been disciplined by the medical licensing board;
10. learn about business development or new roads planned nearby;
11. find out if the person you’re dating has been arrested and charged with a crime;
12. to learn about sex offenders living nearby.
History of Public Records
The earliest public records in the Western world were census documents collected in the 1086 Domesday Book in England. By gathering information on the number of residents of an area, a landlord could estimate the anticipated taxes to be collected, and likewise, landowners were taxed according to the size of the parcel they occupied or owned. Over time, birth documents not only provided some safe passage from one friendly kingdom to another but was another way for kings and lords to keep track of tax-owing peasants under their charge.
The United States went through a similar expansion of government oversight and control, using documents of businesses and land ownership as a means of accounting for taxes owed and paid. Property documents resolved disputes, particularly in the West where claims and claim-jumping were common. As parallel industries grew, such as insurance, the reliance on public documents for proof of birth, age, marriage, divorce, and death increased.
Public documents expanded over time to count the population and allocate funds to states according to need. Professional licenses in the 1960s and 1970s were ways to protect consumers from false credentials as well as to improve health and safety, track business trends, appropriate school assets for training purposes, and keep track of new sources of state income.
It wasn’t until the late 1960s that a federal law, the Freedom of Information Act, was passed, giving citizens the right to view documents generated by government agencies. Previously the ability to access such records was at the discretion of the local authorities or the state, and some allowed access while others did not. After access was granted and journalists, family members, and other individuals could examine records of environmental hazards, deaths in prisons, hospital errors, and the like, acting as a check and balance against government agencies that abused their power to discriminate, accept bribes, or kept important information from people who would be affected.
Industries That Use Public Records:
• higher education – to confirm applicant age, status, location, previous education, and income;
• insurance – to set policies according to age, education, location, income, and offspring;
• nonprofit government/social agencies – to allocate funding according to ethnicity, race, age, education level, and location;
• medicine/academics – study records to watch trends in disease and deaths;
• law enforcement – uses records to track trends in criminal behavior, to allocate policing resources, and to make recommendations on changes to enforcement as well as to traffic safety issues;
• surveyors – check property records before marking lots for development or sale;
• real estate – use public records to research similar sales prices, to “sell” locations as having good school districts, parks, and other amenities, and to gauge market prices;
• banking – to target products according to local consumers’ ages, education levels, current and future needs (college funds for children vs. retirement planning), to plan office locations, and to set rates;
• retail – to determine income levels, patterns of purchasing, to target advertising, to plan retail locations, and to plan inventory;
• manufacturing – to plan land use, to determine size of employee pool, to set wages, to estimate cost of doing business, and
• transportation – to project ridership/use, to determine routes, to set fares, to plan improvements.