Public Records include but are not limited to the following types of documents: civil and criminal litigation, land records, encumbrances, tax assessments, liens, professional licensing, business entity filings, etc. These records are made during the processes of such things as, purchasing a home, conducting personal business, business entities conducting business, and due to civil and criminal matters, and tax obligations. These processes often occur in the counties which we reside in, and they create what is called a paper trail. Public Records often contain information such as dates of birth, addresses, employer information, and names of other family members, and therefore, can be useful when you are attempting to locate someone.

It is important for you to keep in mind that some records are not available for public view, and sometimes records may exist but may not be accessible for a variety of reasons.

An effective search for someone you are trying to locate can take place with just six easy steps. Below is a breakdown of each step, and some tips to help you achieve success.

1.       CREATE A LIST OF POTENTIAL NAME VARIATIONS– For many reasons a person may or may not use his or her legal name, and often times due to various reasons, an individual may use more than one version of their name at any time. Get crafty, try to include nicknames, maiden names if known, and shortened versions, such as using “Bob” in place of “Robert”. Creating a list keeps your information organized, and helps to prevent multiple searches of the same variation.

2.       SEARCH GOOGLE USING THOSE NAME VARIATIONS– This is a very important step in the process. In order to locate any potential information about the person you are seeking, you are going to need to review individual results, gathering bits of information, and writing them down on your list as you go, as they pertain to each name variation.

Do not make the mistake of only looking at the first few entries. You may need to look at many pages of results to gather enough information to generate a pattern that follows the name you are searching. If the name you are searching is common it can make this task more difficult, it is still manageable, just crucial that you keep track of your info, and where you got it from, so that if need be you can easily return to it.

3.       NARROW DOWN THE POTENTIAL COUNTIES OF RESIDENCE– What you are seeking here is location information; that is potential areas where the person you are seeking may reside or work. The goal is to narrow down to the county where the individual resides, so that you know which counties public records to research. 

Simply plug the names of the cities you gathered from your Google search to determine which county it is in, and also make note of the counties surrounding it as well in case you need to expand your search.

4.       RESEARCH THOSE COUNTIES ONLINE INDEXES OR CONTACT THE COUNTY FOR RESEARCH ASSISTANCE– An index is a searchable listing of what is stored in the database for that agency. Each agency is separate, and has its own database. The agencies which I have the most success with are the county courthouse, and recorders offices. In the recorder’s office, you can find marriage licenses, land records, mortgages, liens, and other documents that may contain current useful information for your search. The courts keep documents pertaining to civil and criminal matters. 

Many counties government agencies do have online indexes via their website, some even provide you the ability to actually view the documents online; however, many do not. If the county which you are working with does not have an online index, then you can research at the county itself. If you cannot do this because of distance, then I suggest that you contact the county clerk, and inquire about their research policies. Each county is different, and has different policies. If they do not provide research, you can ask them if they are aware of any local researchers that you may contact for assistance; they may be able to conduct the search for you for a fee. You, of course, can also contact me to inquire about how I can assist you with your search.

When researching an index it is important to remember again, that the name you are searching could have been documented in variation for multiple reasons, including erroneous ones. Use wildcards when you can in your search, and search specifically as well. You can also contact the agency which you are searching within to assure that you are maximizing your search effort by searching their index correctly.

5.       ANALYZE POTENTIAL MATCHES FOR DOCUMENTS THAT CONTAIN VERIFIERS– Review documents that pertain to the name you are searching, abstracting out verifying information such as dates of birth, addresses, employer, etc. If you have to use the assistance of a researcher they can abstract that information for you, or they can purchase available documents for you to view.

A recent traffic infraction, for example, could provide an address, and possibly even a phone number that was gathered by the officer issuing the citation.

6.       USE INFORMATION FOUND IN DOCUMENTS TO FURTHER YOUR RESEARCH– Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t. You may find something useful right away, you may find dated information, or of course you may find nothing useful whatsoever. Public Records are often a timely source of viable information that could help you locate someone. Be diligent, don’t give up. Check back with the county on occasion, and you can apply the same method with state and federal agencies as well.

In closing, I hope that you find something in this article that will provide you with some direction for your search. I wish you the best of luck. I have had much success with this method. Should you be in need of professional assistance to further your research please contact me for your free 30 minute consultation, I would be happy to assist you in your endeavor.

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to start a conversation. I am happy to take suggestions for future blog articles. Thanks for reading and don't forget to subscribe today so you won't miss any future posts. - A Research Guru