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What are Public Records?

You might be surprised to find out just how much information is available about you. Most people don t realize that much of their personal information is actually kept in public records databases that are available to anyone. Government agencies and courts keep databases of documents they use. Most of the time these documents are considered public record even though they contain personal information about people. Some of the databases require fees to be searched, but the information is there all the same. And while this type of information has been available for a long time, the advance of technology and the Internet has made this information much easier to find and access.

So what constitutes a public record? The definition depends on which state you live in. Different states have different laws concerning public records. However, some of the most common public records include birth and death records, marriage and divorce records, criminal records, bankruptcy records and lien information. All states are required by law to provide public records of all convicted sex offenders as well. Background checks and people searches use information from these sources, though you would have to search multiple databases to get the information provided in one people search report.

Depending on which state you live in, public records can extend even further. Some states make public record of unemployment claims, campaign contributions, licenses and certifications, tax information, real estate transactions and deeds, census records and more.

This means that people can find out everything from your phone number to your bankruptcy records to what kind of boat you own. Many online companies use public records databases to run background check and people search services. It is a good idea to find out what kinds of public records are available where you live. There are many state government websites that have links to that information; you can also try to find out specifics of state public records laws.

You can also find out more about the services that use public records in our reviews of and background check services people search services. These services use public records to give you a report about someone much faster and easier than if you had done all the research yourself. Take a look at our side-by-side comparison to see which services ranked best in our review.