Public Records are a wide-ranging category of documents compiled from a variety of agencies, including county and federal courts, police departments, departments of motor vehicles, and related agencies, and, subsequently, made accessible by the public.
Public Records may include information such as:
- Criminal Records
- Eviction Records
- Census (Population)
- Sex Offender Registries
- Professional and Business Licenses
- Legal matters, including misdemeanor and felony court proceedings
Ultimately it depends on the state of residence as to what is and what is not a public record. Some states provide more information including items such as unemployment claims, campaign contributions, and real estate transactions.
Public Records are commonly held in secure databases and made available to third-party providers for a fee. These third-party providers are generally companies providing background screening services for the purpose of pre- and post-employment background screening as well as caregiver/nanny, volunteer, and related screening. Public Records can also be made available in physical form from various agencies upon a written or documented request. Paper records are commonly held at County Courthouses.
Third-party background screening companies utilize public records in assisting businesses, companies, and organizations, as well as individuals, in securing important data that will assist in making critical decisions.
The most frequent use of public records is with pre-employment background screening. Background screening companies utilize databases as well as court researchers in gaining access to public records.
TYPICAL PUBLIC RECORDS USED ARE:
1.) SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TRACE - SSN Trace provides information related to county of residence, date of birth, and alternative names (AKAs). They may also show inappropriate and/or illegal attachment to a SSN to parties not legally enjoined for such action.
2.) CRIMINAL RECORDS -
COUNTY COURT RECORDS are the most current and up-to-date documents available and generally available to the
general public as well as public records researchers.
STATE COURT RECORDS show information on statewide actions as well as multiple county recordings. Will also
show crimes generally referred to as White Collar i.e. Fraud related.
FEDERAL RECORDS may show broader actions including terrorism and other broader scope actions.
3.) EVICTION RECORDS - Eviction records typically include landlord & tenant court filings, possession judgments, and monetary judgments.
4.) SEX OFFENDERS - There are two types of sex offender records: State and Federal. State records are generally the most accurate and current but a federal sex offender record will offer countrywide reporting.
5.) DMV - Information available on driving records varies by state but generally shows information related to vehicular activity for three years prior.
The availability and allowed use of Public Records varies by state. In most cases, especially with Employment Screening, individuals must provide consent to record retrieval. This is indicative of the implied use of public information. While, as an example, criminal history may be readily available to the general public, the use of such information is strictly controlled. The use of Public Records for the purposes of employment screening, and related areas where public information may be used in consideration for an "employment role," paid or not, should be under the guidance of a third-party agency such as a background screening company.