Search Public Information - People Finder's Network

Certain records have always been available to the public. Over time, public policy regarding what information should be public and what information is not suitable for the general public has changed. Similarly, the modes of access to public information have also changed.

A defining moment in access to public information was created when the federal government passed the Freedom of Information Act. Individual states have adopted their own standards to allow public access to approved information.

Much public information is now available online. In fact, the Internet has become a valuable and under-utilized resource for personal and business information. It should be clear that methods of accessing public information can vary from one jurisdiction to another but under the Freedom of Information Act, the public is assured requests for public information will be fulfilled.

Property Records

Property records are public information that has been used throughout history to detail who owns acreage, homes, lots and commercial buildings. In many cases, all communication regarding the development and construction of property deemed public property is also a matter of public record.

While private selling prices are not necessarily public record, the filing of mortgages, tax stamps and other documents, as well as all real property appraisals are public information in most localities. In these areas, the information can often be accessed through online portals.

Vital Statistics

Date of birth, copies of marriage certificates and death records, which are filed by the coroner’s office, are considered vital statistics and are public information. Most states have huge databases where most recent, known addresses are also stored. These records are often used to track family members and other genealogy building.

Court Proceedings

Proceedings, including rulings, judgements, records of proceedings and transcripts are considered public information. In some states, this information may be accessed online but, for the most part, still requires a personal visit or written letter to request information.

Interestingly, prior convictions, prior warrants and criminal records are available on police databases. Over time, this information has become more available online.

Much of this information is contained in popular online background checks that have become standard operating procedure for many businesses, medical institutions and intelligence gathering agencies.

Town Meeting Minutes

The minutes from zoning board meetings and other public meetings are now regarded as public information. Gradually, localities are making these minutes available online but if they are not accessible in your community, you can request the information in person or by mail. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the locality is obligated to comply. If the information is available online, a form or PDF document must be completed to initiate the process.

Protective Information

Certain information that may serve to protect the public is also available online as public information. This would include the sex offender registry, certain safety recalls and consumer safety reports.

Credit Information

Information such as amounts of credit accounts, the lenders who have issued credit and records of tardy or late payments can also be found in online credit reports. The individual’s credit rating is also available. Additionally, the name of anyone who accessed an individual’s credit report during the previous two years can also be found in an online report. Whether the inquiry was voluntary, one authorized by the individual, or involuntary, one without the individual’s knowledge, is included in the report.

What is not included in a credit report is important. Social security numbers, the date of birth and the individual’s employment information is considered protected information that could be used to the person’s disadvantage and is withheld.

However, foreclosure information, lawsuits, wage attachments, bankruptcies, liens and judgments can be found in an online credit report.

If this online public information is important to an employer or third party, it is available online but most often at a fee. Consumers are advised to know what information they need and make sure it is included in the report you purchase before signing the dotted line.