Where do background check websites source their data?
July 1, 2011 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Where do background check websites like this one get their data, specifically?

The about pages always give kind of cryptic accounts of "public data" but I was curious if anyone knew which data this is and how/where it is available? They offer such things as criminal background checks, property records, DMV, etc. But specifically how they go about sourcing that data from its point of origin -- that is, the government agency that maintains it -- is unclear to me.
posted by refractal to Law & Government (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't give you specifics about that service, but there are businesses out there that pull/retype documents in the public domain for resale.

As in literally going to every single public records department in the country, getting as many records as possible, converting them to a digital format, and reselling them.

On the other end are companies like this one that purchase said data and do whatever with it.
posted by unixrat at 8:23 AM on July 1, 2011

most likely they have a deal with one of the large data brokers like accurint(lexisnexis) or clear(Gale research), and have them do the heavy data gathering...
posted by fozzie33 at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2011

Back when I worked for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Circuit Court Access Program, they had would have contracts with various state, federal, and local agencies and companies to provide access to court records of various types.

Private background check companies would have the same access you or I would have from the website, but they could get access to an API that allowed them to automate the process.

I don't know that this still goes on, but I can't see why it wouldn't.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:13 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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