Do's and Don'ts

Millions of pages of public records are created every day, documenting both achievements and problems. Among these documents are property records, arrest reports, marriage licenses, bankruptcy declarations, and court judgements.

One figure shows that more than 35,000 people are arrested each day in the United States, or more than 10.5 million a year, creating many pages of documents each time.

Access to these records is possible with specialized search engines that can find a person’s name on thousands of documents almost instantly. However, these search results may not be used for official employment, credit, or consumer background checks.


Search for an old friend you’ve lost contact with
Seek information about a person you are dating
Find out where your neighbor works
Learn what information is available from your own records
Research your ancestry by finding others with the same name
Gather information about the roommates you may move in with
Learn more about family members of your child’s new best friend
Find the name of a friend’s first spouse


Use search results to approve or deny a person for employment
Substitute information for an official criminal background check
Discriminate based on search results
Screen tenants using
Determine an applicant’s educational status through search results
Commit identity theft through information found in searches
Stalk an individual based on search results
Deny an applicant credit based on results
  • Is the guy down the hall single? Check
  • What’s your brother’s new mailing address? You can find it on
  • Who owns that building? Look online before taking a long trip to the courthouse
  • Does your speeding ticket show up as an arrest on your records? Here's one way to find out
  • Is your college roommate really a bigshot attorney now? It’s easier to search than to call him
  • Is there someone nearby with the same name as you, or could you be the victim of identity theft? Start the investigation process with