How to search public records on the internet

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From time to time, you might find it necessary to look up information that pertains to a certain person or business.  A lot of information is available from public records, but where do you go to find that information?

I can tell you one place you should NOT go to look for public records: Google.  This applies if you do any searches like these:

  • background check
  • court records
  • DMV records
  • judgements or Liens
  • military records
  • missing children

Those types of searches, and many more like them, will only bring up online search services that want to sell you all of their services.  These companies have a place obviously (the ones that are legitimate anyway – some of them are just scams), but in a lot of cases they are only providing information that you could go and access yourself if you knew where to find it.

So where do you start?  Here’s a good place: The Public Records Center.

Public Records Center
The Public Records center is not actually where the data is kept; it is more like an online portal.  But it can lead you in the right direction to find the information you are looking for.

You can start by searching specifically for your state, or you can begin by choosing the type of nationwide search you want to do.  These include:

public record searches

One thing to watch out for  on this site is that they do sell some banner ads.  It might look like you are still just continuing your “information search” but you are actually going to a third-party website.  These ads are labeled as “Ads by” so just watch for it:


If you need to do a background check on someone as a prospective employee (or the guy your daughter just started dating!), you may want information that is more complete than what is available at this site.  If that is the case, contact me and I can put you in touch with a professional background verification service.

In this week’s video…I don’t know what this woman was thinking.  Isn’t it kind of common sense that you don’t just walk up to a buffalo while it’s eating?

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March 29th, 2010

Just saying hi. Live in Damariscotta. I’ve been on your mailing list since you were in Waldoboro. I really enjoy your newsletter. That’s it! Going back to listening to raindrops …

Scott Johnson
March 29th, 2010

Thanks Melanie! Glad you enjoy the newsletter.

Aaron Dahl
March 29th, 2010

Great website! That website is a compilation of hours of work right at your fingertips!

March 29th, 2010

I, too, have been on your newsletter list since you were in Waldoboro. You’ve also rescued me from a couple of problems that were major for me. I never think of contacting anyone else. On line, you’re as close as my fingertips. Thanks !!

David F. CCC
March 29th, 2010

You have broken into the “Big Leagues” the site looks awesome and your information is always helpful, curious and/or eye opening. Thank you for this service I also enjoy the humor in many of the clips you post. My best!

Scott Johnson
March 29th, 2010

Thanks everyone for the kind words!