|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
- Finding People Resources and Sites 2017
- 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. Vital Records
- A. 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: Search by name, parcel #, address, AFN #
- Medina County Auditor: Links to the auditor's web site for each Ohio County.
- Neo Cando: Property, tax and transfer information for properties in Cuyahoga county. Search by address, parcel number, census tract, ward, city or other criteria.
- Local Foreclosure Cases: e.g., Cuyahoga County Docket
- 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.
VIII. Court Dockets
IX. Voter Registration Records
- Cuyahoga County Voter Search: When name and DOB is entered, yields address of voter, party affiliation, polling location and polling history.
X. Military Records
- Service Members Civil Relief Act Site: Search for active military by name (SSN or DOB is required).
- National Archives: Search by name for information on current and former personnel (mostly before 1981); covers honors, deaths, wounds, POW information.
- Federal Civilian Personnel Folders: Covers past and present workers, provides position titles, occupational series, grades, annual salary rates, duty stations, and position descriptions.
- Local County Recorders: May contain a searchable index of Discharge forms.
- National Archives: Certain individuals can obtain current and archival information.
- Ancestry.com: Free to search by name; mostly historical information.
XI. Political Campaign Donations
XII. Professional Licenses, Information & Discipline
- Ohio License Center: Search by name or license number; Physician information is voluntary and may contain DOB, practice location, residence, professional education, specialties and credentials. (Type of license, initial date, expiration, status, and discipline).
- AMA DoctorFinder: Search by name or specialty to find information on members and non-members.
- WebMD: Search by name, retrieve contact information, education, ratings and insurance accepted.
- American Board of Medical Specialties: Searching requires free registration.
- Doc Finder
- Ohio Supreme Court: Attorney Information Search. Displays contact information, law school and discipline.
- Ohio Supreme Court Cases: Can be searched for attorney disciplinary actions back to 1992
- OSBA Find A Lawyer: Free to search for OSBA members.
- OSBA Certified Specialists: Free to search by specialty, then name.
- Martindale.com Powered by Martindale Hubbell®: Free to search by name, law firm, or organization; results include contact information, practice areas, bar admissions and AV Peer Review Ratings.
- AVVO: Free to search by name; can provide contact information, licensure information, fee schedules, and reviews.
- Justia: Free to search by name; provides contact information, bar admissions, and some memberships.
- AMBest Directory: Free to search by name for ratings on insurance attorneys.
- Daily Legal News: Find out if a lawyer is licensed in Ohio
- Directory Of Corporate Counsel (Wolters Kluwer): Search by name.
- Association Of Corporate Counsel: Members can search the member directory.
- ABA - Directory of Lawyer Disciplinary Agencies: Provides phone numbers and sometimes web addresses for lawyer disciplinary agencies in the fifty states.
- ABA National Lawyer Regulatory Databank: For a fee, one can request a search nationwide for disciplinary actions against an attorney.
XIII. 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. Free verification tool; makes suggestions for finding SSNs; Contains a table showing the first three digits of the social security number, and which ones correspond to which state.
- 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.
XIV. Your Credit Report
- Your Access to Free Credit Reports: Information from the Federal Trade Commission on how to obtain your free annual credit reports. (Credit reports are not public records)
XV. Map Services
XVI. Fee-Based Services
- Lexis Smartlinx Report: With a permissible purpose, users can search by name, alias, address or SSN to find people. Reports can include name variations, DOBs, partial SSNs, current and former addresses, phone numbers, emails, employment and businesses, voter registrations, professional licenses, other licenses (sport, pilot), bankruptcies, liens and judgments, real property, boats and aircraft, UCC liens, criminal and traffic cases, associates, relatives, and possible neighbors.
- Accurint Person Search (from Lexis): Government agencies and private investigators can use this tool to obtain the same information that is contained in a Lexis Smartlinx report. (See above). Depending on their permissions and purpose, searchers may be able to obtain additional information.
- Westlaw PeopleMap: With a permissible purpose, users can search by name, address or SSN to find people. Reports can include name variations, DOBs, partial SSNs, current and former addresses, phone numbers, emails, employment and businesses, voter registrations, professional licenses, other licenses (sport, pilot), bankruptcies, liens and judgments, real property, boats and aircraft, UCC liens, criminal and traffic cases, associates, relatives, and possible neighbors.
- CLEAR (from Thomson Reuters): Investigative professionals can use this tool to obtain the same information that is contained in a Westlaw PeopleMap report. (See above). Depending on their permissions and purpose, searchers may be able to obtain additional information.
- OpenOnline: With a permissible purpose, users can search a driver’s license, a license plate, or a name in criminal records databases for people.
- LexisNexis Analyzer: Information on attorneys, judges, experts, arbitrators, and companies.
- Thomson Reuters/Westlaw Profiles: Background information on attorneys, judges, and experts.
1 West Lakeside Avenue, FL4 • Cleveland, Ohio 44113-1078 • Email: email@example.com • Phone: (216) 861-5070 • Fax: (216) 861-1606
August 16, 2004 -