|The Law Library Staff prepares "Research Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQs) for the convenience of our users to provide access to a variety of sources addressing particular points of law. These are general legal information sources, and are not to be construed as a substitute for personal legal advice from an attorney. Please seek legal counsel to help you determine the applicability of any of the information in these resources to your specific situation. The Law Library makes no recommendation as to whether you should purchase any services offered by the websites contained in this FAQ.
See other FAQ's for information regarding People Finders and Privacy.
I. Public Records Laws
II. Finding Public Records on the Web - Public Records Portals and Guides
- AdvancedBackgroundChecks.com: Public record and contact information, containing birth records, census, divorce, death, and marriage records. It also includes WWII, internment, and obituary records
- Online Searches: Free Public Records Search Directory
- CriminalSearches: Provides criminal history checks, sex offender finder, criminal alerts, and criminal statistics.
- NETRonline: Contains public records with direct links to the actual county and state databases that contain the data.
- Search Systems: A collection of public records from all over the country.
- Virtual Gumshoe: A search engine allows you to select the jurisdiction and type of record you want, to find an appropriate database.
- BRB Publications: Links to free sites, arranged by jurisdiction. Links and hints for finding motor vehicle records.
- Virtual Chase: Public Records & Government Transparency
- The Art of Public Records Research: from the Virtual Chase. Discusses what is a public record and what is private information.
- Lexis and Westlaw provide public records databases by subscription.
III. Birth/Death/Marriage Records
IV. Corporation Records - See our FAQ on Business Information
V. Property Records
- Lexis and Westlaw provide access to many types of asset and property databases, as well as databases showing liens.
- Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office (formerly Auditor): Search by name, parcel #, address, AFN #
- Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office (formerly Auditor): Information available can include deeds for property owned, leases, mechanic's liens, notices of commencement, federal tax liens, and other types of liens.
- Medina County Auditor: Links to the auditor's web site for each Ohio County.
- Neo Cando: Property, tax and transfer information for properties in Northeast Ohio. Search by address, parcel number, census tract, ward or city. (requires a free registration)
- Portico: Links for searching each state and county.
- OPENonline: For a fee, one can search real property records for multiple Ohio counties. Can also run searches for other states, with records from selected counties in those states.
- Ohio Department of Public Safety Online Vehicle/Watercraft Title Inquiry: Search by title number or VIN number.
- Carfax.com: Free search will tell you the year and make a vehicle, when a VIN number is entered. There are free searches for manufacturers buy backs under lemon laws, and for recalls. For a fee, you can find out how many people owned the vehicle and for how long, whether there are title problems, odometer problems and whether the car was in an accident or stolen. Carfax reports DO NOT provide the names of the former owners.
- Lexis, Westlaw and OPENonline also have motor vehicle searches for a fee. One can search for a person's name, unlike the BMV site above, to see what vehicles they own. The OPENonline site requires knowledge of the person's social security number.
VI. Criminal Records
- Inmate/Corrections information
- Try searching court dockets, below.
VII. Court Dockets
VIII. Voter Registration Records
IX. Political Campaign Donations
IX. Professional Licenses
XI. Social Security Numbers
- SSN Validator: Tells whether a Social Security Number is valid.
- Search Bug: Tells whether a Social Security Number is valid.
- Social Security Death Index: Verifies social security numbers for deceased people.
- Resources for Social Security Numbers: by SearchEngineZ. Contains a table showing the first three digits of the social security number, and which ones correspond to which state. This page identifies eight states that use Social Security Numbers as drivers license numbers, but this practice has been outlawed by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
- Social Security Number Verification: The Social Security Administration runs this site. Employers input names and social security numbers, to verify the social security numbers. Site requires registration.
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: "My Social Security Number: How Secure is It?" - discusses whether you must provide the government or a business with your social security number.
XII. Your Credit Report
- Your Access to Free Credit Reports: Information from the Federal Trade Commission on how to obtain your free annual credit report. (Credit reports are not public records)
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August 16, 2004 -