How can I access public records?
August 25, 2007 6:50 AM   Subscribe

When I'm looking for information on an old friend or doing a reverse phone lookup, it seems that the only places that have the information are sites like Intelius or US Search. Of course, we have to pay for the 'public records'. I'd like to know if it's possible to access these public records in another way without paying for them? It seems logical, but I haven't found an easy way to locate the information. Thanks!
posted by mcarthey to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
To do reverse phone lookups, I've always used Click on the "Reverse Lookup" link on the bar at the top of the page.
posted by dforemsky at 7:14 AM on August 25, 2007

zabasearch calls itself a "Free People Search and Public Information Search Engine"
posted by wsg at 8:59 AM on August 25, 2007

I've always used Yahoo's people search, it's been around quite a while, and I imagine it has pretty deep database. I use it maybe once a month to get phone numbers and addresses that I've lost.
posted by jeremias at 9:51 AM on August 25, 2007

Google. Just enter the phone number, all 10 digits, no hyphens -- if it's a listed number you get name and address. Or enter last name, town, state and you'll get address and phone. Even first name (or initial), last name and state works, if the name is not too common. Intelius seems to charge even for the phone number. Their $49.95 background report adds criminal checks, bankruptcies, former addresses, sex offender status, small claims records and the like, which is probably not what you're looking for. Some of those things can be found via other sources (online sex offender registries, for example). Others, the data firms have purchased somewhere and are in the business of selling access to.
posted by beagle at 10:46 AM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've usually used zabasearch

If that doesn't help, you could try spock or facebook. I recently joined facebook and was utterlt amazed by the amount of people there. It does trend more to students or recent students though.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:05 AM on August 25, 2007

Public records such as court judgments can be searchable online yourself. The catch is, the jurisdiction has to have placed the items online, and you have to know in advance what location you want to search.

You can start with something like zabasearch, then take the manual next step yourself to dig for court records that may be online in whatever city or county you're looking at.
These online searches like zabasearch typically give you a boatload of "rough matches" based on limited info, so proceed with skepticism.

In theory, any public record from a court is available...if you have the resources to schlepp down to the courthouse in person.

Some jurisdictions have property info online--if the person owns real estate and you know an address, you might get interesting info this way.
posted by gimonca at 12:56 PM on August 25, 2007

« Older Joint pain: what can I do to make it better?   |   Downloadable mp3 DJ Sets Legal? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.