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Public Records Research: Sources, Search Tips and Legal Basics.

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1 Public Records Research: Sources, Search Tips and Legal Basics

2 Workshop Web Site Login: vchwsu Login: vchwsu Password: whi1560 Password: whi1560 Login/password is case sensitive Login/password is case sensitive 0 in the password is a zero 0 in the password is a zero Content expires before the start of next Web Search University Content expires before the start of next Web Search University

3 Workshop Objectives Recognize public vs private information Recognize public vs private information Identify potential public sources of private information Identify potential public sources of private information Understand the limitations of electronic government records Understand the limitations of electronic government records Review major online public records research tools Review major online public records research tools Grasp the basics of how law affects access and use of personal information Grasp the basics of how law affects access and use of personal information

4 Public vs. Private Information: Finding What You Want to Know, Legally

5 Whats the Difference? Public records Public records Private information Private information Public information Public information Quasi-public information Quasi-public information

6 What is Public Record? Government records Government records Used to mean no access restrictions Used to mean no access restrictions Rapidly changing both online & offlineRapidly changing both online & offline Redacted personal identifiersRedacted personal identifiers Court, property records Court, property records Business filings (incorps, dbas, UCCs) Business filings (incorps, dbas, UCCs) Public co. filings (EDGAR) Public co. filings (EDGAR) Professional licenses Professional licenses Many agency records (IP, inspections) Many agency records (IP, inspections)

7 But … Not all government records are public record Not all government records are public record What is public record varies by jurisdiction What is public record varies by jurisdiction Rapsheets: public in PA, but not in NCRapsheets: public in PA, but not in NC Marriage certificates: public in NC, but not in MDMarriage certificates: public in NC, but not in MD

8 Changes Affecting Public Access or Status County recorder docs (deeds, tax liens, births, deaths) - mandatory or voluntary removal of SSNs County recorder docs (deeds, tax liens, births, deaths) - mandatory or voluntary removal of SSNs TX – AG op mandated removal of SSNs from all county court records; superseded by law (2007 HB 2061) TX – AG op mandated removal of SSNs from all county court records; superseded by law (2007 HB 2061) AR – redact personal info from all court records except the court transcript (court rule) AR – redact personal info from all court records except the court transcript (court rule) CO – court directive mandates removal of sensitive info from court docs (2005, amended in 2007) CO – court directive mandates removal of sensitive info from court docs (2005, amended in 2007)

9 Changes Affecting Public Access or Status Several states, including MO, NY, CA, CO, AZ, OR, NM, VT pull UCC images from Web site (2007) Several states, including MO, NY, CA, CO, AZ, OR, NM, VT pull UCC images from Web site (2007) Plea agreements – removed from S.D.FL and E.D.PA Plea agreements – removed from S.D.FL and E.D.PA NY – removed crimes resulting in 15 days or less in jail from criminal histories provided by the NY Office of Court Adm NY – removed crimes resulting in 15 days or less in jail from criminal histories provided by the NY Office of Court Adm Oneida County, NY – gives online access to recorder docs only to certain groups Oneida County, NY – gives online access to recorder docs only to certain groups

10 Impact on Research More time & money for on-site research and retrieval More time & money for on-site research and retrieval Greater skill Greater skill Knowledge of sourcesKnowledge of sources Tenacious investigative skillsTenacious investigative skills More than ever, online research supplements on-site research More than ever, online research supplements on-site research Manage client/patron expectations Manage client/patron expectations

11 Keeping Up with Changes Industry experts find it difficult Industry experts find it difficult TVC Alert Research News TVC Alert Research News BRB Public Records Blog BRB Public Records Blog publicrecordsblog.typepad.compublicrecordsblog.typepad.com PI Buzz PI Buzz

12 What Is Not Public Record? FBI criminal records (NCIC) FBI criminal records (NCIC) Income tax records Income tax records Juvenile court records Juvenile court records Any government record where access is restricted by law. In some states… Any government record where access is restricted by law. In some states… Criminal histories (rapsheets)Criminal histories (rapsheets) Vital (birth, death) recordsVital (birth, death) records Vehicle ownershipVehicle ownership

13 What Is Private Information? Personal or confidential Personal or confidential SSN or date of birth SSN or date of birth Unpatented formulas Unpatented formulas Undisclosed business practices Undisclosed business practices Medical and financial records Medical and financial records Bank account informationBank account information Credit reportsCredit reports

14 Private Information May Become Public When … You volunteer it You volunteer it Publicly listed telephone numberPublicly listed telephone number Product registration formsProduct registration forms Online résumés, blogs, forumsOnline résumés, blogs, forums You disclose it in a public record You disclose it in a public record Assets in a divorce filingAssets in a divorce filing Names of minor children in a bankruptcy filingNames of minor children in a bankruptcy filing SSN in real estate documentsSSN in real estate documents The public observes it The public observes it Where you workWhere you work

15 Whats Quasi-Public? Access restrictions & limited info released Access restrictions & limited info released Life insurance policies Life insurance policies MIBs Policy Locator ServiceMIBs Policy Locator Service Military records Military records Select information onlySelect information only Requires written requestRequires written request Some state criminal repository records Some state criminal repository records May require fingerprintsMay require fingerprints May require signed releaseMay require signed release

16 Determining Public Status Major federal privacy laws Major federal privacy laws FCRA & FACTA (consumer)FCRA & FACTA (consumer) 15 USC §6802(e) 15 USC §6802(e) Gramm-Leach-Bliley (financial)Gramm-Leach-Bliley (financial) 15 USC §1681b 15 USC §1681b DPPA (driver)DPPA (driver) 18 USC § USC §2721 State open access laws State open access laws Vary from state to stateVary from state to state

17 BRB Publications Inc. Leading publisher of U.S. public records reference works Leading publisher of U.S. public records reference works The Sourcebook, 8 th ed. The Sourcebook, 8 th ed. Public Records Research System Public Records Research System Public Record Retriever Network (free) Public Record Retriever Network (free) Free government record sites Free government record sites

18 Public Record Research System Annual subscription fee Annual subscription fee Arranged by state/county Arranged by state/county Gives public status of government records Gives public status of government records Informs how to obtain records Informs how to obtain records Provides contact information and Web sites, when available Provides contact information and Web sites, when available

19 Test Your Understanding True or false. If the information you seek is not public record, you cannot find it out – legally or ethically. True or false. If the information you seek is not public record, you cannot find it out – legally or ethically.

20 Public Records Research: Its All About Sources

21 Facts About Online Records 35% of public records are online 35% of public records are online Many are incomplete or inaccurate Many are incomplete or inaccurate Lack identifying information (SSN, DOB)Lack identifying information (SSN, DOB) Lack disposition (or up-to-date) dataLack disposition (or up-to-date) data Online verification is difficult Online verification is difficult Many free government sources do not provide personal identifiersMany free government sources do not provide personal identifiers Verify by requesting a copy of the original recordVerify by requesting a copy of the original record On-site copy may not contain identifiersOn-site copy may not contain identifiers SSN Validator (www.ssnvalidator.com) SSN Validator (www.ssnvalidator.com)

22

23 Primary Sources Who/what generates the data? Who/what generates the data? Who/what is responsible for its collection, maintenance or use? Who/what is responsible for its collection, maintenance or use?

24 Finding SSNs & DOBs Online if you are lucky Online if you are lucky Filing forms changing to stop requesting SSNs Filing forms changing to stop requesting SSNs Tax liens, UCCs Tax liens, UCCs Deeds, mortgage documents Deeds, mortgage documents Bankruptcy filings Bankruptcy filings Vehicle accident reports Vehicle accident reports Divorce, custody filings, probate records Divorce, custody filings, probate records Property foreclosures (court records) Property foreclosures (court records) Death certificates Death certificates

25 Finding Information About Private Companies Identify regulating agencies Identify regulating agencies Restaurants, food handlers (Health depts.)Restaurants, food handlers (Health depts.) Human tissue, donor services (FDA, Health depts.)Human tissue, donor services (FDA, Health depts.) Manufacturing (EPA, OSHA)Manufacturing (EPA, OSHA) Licenses and permits Licenses and permits Business organizationBusiness organization Special (liquor, gambling)Special (liquor, gambling) Professional (insurance, doctor, dentist)Professional (insurance, doctor, dentist) Background check the owners Background check the owners

26 Major Online Sources U.S. Party/Case Index U.S. Party/Case Index pacer.uspci.uscourts.govpacer.uspci.uscourts.gov EDGAR EDGAR Excluded Parties List System Excluded Parties List System epls.arnet.govepls.arnet.gov LexisONE LexisONE

27 The U.S. Party/Case Index Federal civil and criminal lawsuits Federal civil and criminal lawsuits Bankruptcies Bankruptcies Register w/PACER to access Register w/PACER to access Check Courts Not On Index Check Courts Not On Index Lastname, firstname Lastname, firstname Searching middle initials Searching middle initials Sometimes indexed, sometimes notSometimes indexed, sometimes not For everything, search withoutFor everything, search without

28 EDGAR 2 search options 2 search options Header data onlyHeader data only Full-text for past 4 yearsFull-text for past 4 years Full-text option: Find mention of people or private companies within documents Full-text option: Find mention of people or private companies within documents Supports Boolean or Natural Language Supports Boolean or Natural Language Operators must be capitalized (AND, OR, NOT) Operators must be capitalized (AND, OR, NOT)

29 More on EDGAR Conceptual search engine Conceptual search engine Search for chocolate might retrieve cocoaSearch for chocolate might retrieve cocoa Case sensitive searching Case sensitive searching But recent queries suggest no difference between Donald Trump and donald trumpBut recent queries suggest no difference between Donald Trump and donald trump Supports proximity (NEARn) Supports proximity (NEARn) Supports wildcard (*) truncation Supports wildcard (*) truncation Undocumented – supports nesting Undocumented – supports nesting

30 Excluded Parties List System Contract or financial assistance debarments or suspensions Contract or financial assistance debarments or suspensions Separate search for past exclusions Separate search for past exclusions Supports wildcards (green* or anders?n; differs from partial search) Supports wildcards (green* or anders?n; differs from partial search) Verification necessary for persons Verification necessary for persons No identifiers (SSN, dob) onlineNo identifiers (SSN, dob) online No street address for personsNo street address for persons Street address provides for companiesStreet address provides for companies

31 LexisONE Free case law Free case law Federal Federal U.S. Supreme Court (all opinions)U.S. Supreme Court (all opinions) Appellate courts (current 5 years)Appellate courts (current 5 years) No district (trial level) courtsNo district (trial level) courts No special (tax, military) courtsNo special (tax, military) courts State State Mostly appellate level; sometimes only high courtMostly appellate level; sometimes only high court Current 5 yearsCurrent 5 years Fee access to public records and verdicts & settlements Fee access to public records and verdicts & settlements

32 Finding Tools – General BRB Free Resource Center BRB Free Resource Center pubrecsites.asp?h=1www.brbpub.com/ pubrecsites.asp?h=1 Black Book Online Black Book Online The Virtual Chase The Virtual Chase Database of SourcesDatabase of Sources

33 Finding Tools – Specific Legal Dockets Online Legal Dockets Online Business Filings Online Business Filings Online tinyurl.com/qp3xdtinyurl.com/qp3xd Portico Personal Property Portico Personal Property tinyurl.com/r3y3ytinyurl.com/r3y3y Criminal Records Criminal Records criminal_records.shtmlwww.virtualchase.com/topics/ criminal_records.shtml

34 Commercial Vendors AutoTrackXP (CPO), Accurint (LN), Merlin AutoTrackXP (CPO), Accurint (LN), Merlin Mix private & public information Mix private & public information Access requires permissible use Access requires permissible use Contract details permissible usesContract details permissible uses Statutory restrictions (GLB, DPPA)Statutory restrictions (GLB, DPPA) Many commercial vendors disallow use for FCRA-regulated activitiesMany commercial vendors disallow use for FCRA-regulated activities

35 Public Records Research: Legal Issues

36 Major Federal Privacy Laws Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) 15 USC §6802(e)15 USC §6802(e) Financial recordsFinancial records Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) 15 USC §1681b15 USC §1681b Consumer reportsConsumer reports Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) 18 USC § USC §2721 Driver recordsDriver records

37 Permissible (Legal) Uses Each law has its own exceptions Each law has its own exceptions Business reasons Business reasons Litigation and other legal reasons Litigation and other legal reasons Employment reasons Employment reasons Other (signed written permission, court order) Other (signed written permission, court order)

38 Permissible Uses Generally Fraud prevention or detection Fraud prevention or detection Legal or beneficial interest Legal or beneficial interest Compliance with another law Compliance with another law Fiduciary on behalf of consumer Fiduciary on behalf of consumer Current litigation or arbitration Current litigation or arbitration Service of processService of process Pre-trial investigationsPre-trial investigations Enforcement of judgmentsEnforcement of judgments

39 Permissible Uses FCRA Consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) Consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) People or entities that perform outside research for employment or other FCRA regulated purpose (15 USC §1681b(a))People or entities that perform outside research for employment or other FCRA regulated purpose (15 USC §1681b(a)) Special obligations to the research subject might conflict with duty to client Special obligations to the research subject might conflict with duty to client Inside researcher (e.g., employer) is not a CRA Inside researcher (e.g., employer) is not a CRA

40 Example FCRA Regulated Activities Pre-employment & employment Pre-employment & employment Exceptions under FACTAExceptions under FACTA Insurance underwriting Insurance underwriting Consumer credit transaction Consumer credit transaction Determining eligibility for a license issued by a government agency Determining eligibility for a license issued by a government agency

41 FCRA Is Complex You (the outside researcher) cannot run a criminal background check on a clients prospective employee without the interviewees consent (and fulfilling other obligations). You (the outside researcher) cannot run a criminal background check on a clients prospective employee without the interviewees consent (and fulfilling other obligations). But the employer can run a criminal check w/o consent and disclosure if he does the research himself. But the employer can run a criminal check w/o consent and disclosure if he does the research himself.

42 FTC Interpretive Guidance FTC Staff Opinion Letter FTC Staff Opinion Letter sum.htmhttp://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra/ sum.htm Haynes-Sum, 15 September 1999Haynes-Sum, 15 September 1999 Law firms could be CRAs under the ActLaw firms could be CRAs under the Act FCRA covers any information used for a regulated purpose, including public recordsFCRA covers any information used for a regulated purpose, including public records

43 Interesting Case Law Remsburg v. Docusearch, 816 A.2d 1001 (NH, 2003) Remsburg v. Docusearch, 816 A.2d 1001 (NH, 2003) tinyurl.com/kpd7wtinyurl.com/kpd7w Researchers owe a duty to exercise reasonable care not to subject the research subject to an unreasonable risk of harmResearchers owe a duty to exercise reasonable care not to subject the research subject to an unreasonable risk of harm

44 Test Your Understanding Do you need a permissible use (legal reason) to access public records? Do you need a permissible use (legal reason) to access public records?

45 Open Access Laws and Privacy Issues: Keeping Up with the Changes

46 Professional Reading BRB Public Records Blog BRB Public Records Blog publicrecordsblog.typepad.compublicrecordsblog.typepad.com PI Buzz PI Buzz pibuzz.compibuzz.com Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press TVC Alert Research News TVC Alert Research News

47 Public Records Research: Company Research and Business People

48 Finding Personal Identifiers Becoming increasingly difficult Becoming increasingly difficult Commercial vendors (LN/Accurint, CPO/AutoTrackXP, Merlin) Commercial vendors (LN/Accurint, CPO/AutoTrackXP, Merlin) Disclosed in public records Disclosed in public records General Web searching General Web searching Online résumés, personal Web sites (blogs, MySpace), discussion forums, Martindale-Hubbell, Whos Who, biosOnline résumés, personal Web sites (blogs, MySpace), discussion forums, Martindale-Hubbell, Whos Who, bios

49 Common Name Searching Need personal identifiers for verification Need personal identifiers for verification Full name, SSN or date of birthFull name, SSN or date of birth Helpful in combination w/a name Helpful in combination w/a name Profession, occupation or industryProfession, occupation or industry Hobbies, interestsHobbies, interests Residence, place of workResidence, place of work Memberships, affiliationsMemberships, affiliations Difficult for both manual research and online searching Difficult for both manual research and online searching

50 Researching Business People Professional licenses + disciplinary data** Professional licenses + disciplinary data** Business filings Business filings Court records (including bankruptcies and liens) Court records (including bankruptcies and liens) Case law Case law News stories News stories Campaign donations Campaign donations Intellectual property Intellectual property Authored works Authored works Congressional testimony Congressional testimony Agency comment letters Agency comment letters EDGAR, SEC litigation Web site EDGAR, SEC litigation Web site Internet Archive Internet Archive **Often includes telephone research

51 Free Search Tools for Business People ZoomInfo (www.zoominfo.com) ZoomInfo (www.zoominfo.com) EDGAR (www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml) EDGAR (www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml) Authoratory (www.authoratory.com) Authoratory (www.authoratory.com) Social networks Social networks LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) targets business peopleLinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) targets business people MySpaceMySpace FacebookFacebook Wink (queries multiple social networks + special Web sites)Wink (queries multiple social networks + special Web sites)

52 Due Diligence Research on Companies Databases by regulating agencies Databases by regulating agencies MAUDE (medical devices, tinyurl.com/3nbzt)MAUDE (medical devices, tinyurl.com/3nbzt) FCC (filed comments, tinyurl.com/4f83)FCC (filed comments, tinyurl.com/4f83) OSHA Accidents (tinyurl.com/ruudd) & Inspections (tinyurl.com/ms4rw) OSHA Accidents (tinyurl.com/ruudd) & Inspections (tinyurl.com/ms4rw) Envirofacts (www.epa.gov/enviro/) Envirofacts (www.epa.gov/enviro/) Integrates data from 7 EPA databasesIntegrates data from 7 EPA databases GPO Access (www.gpoaccess.gov; Federal Register, Congressional Record, hearings) GPO Access (www.gpoaccess.gov; Federal Register, Congressional Record, hearings)

53 Search Engine Strategies For best results, run multiple queries in several search engines For best results, run multiple queries in several search engines donald trumpdonald trump donald j trumpdonald j trump mars incmars inc mars incorporatedmars incorporated Common name + what you know Common name + what you know gary price + librariangary price + librarian Uncommon last name + what you know Uncommon last name + what you know tyburski + ballard spahrtyburski + ballard spahr Query limiters Query limiters site:.gov or site:.state.xx.ussite:.gov or site:.state.xx.us

54 Search Engine Strategies Cont. "not for public dissemination" "not for public dissemination" "not for public release" "not for public release" "official use only" (variations include FOUO and U//FOUO) "official use only" (variations include FOUO and U//FOUO) "company confidential" "company confidential" "internal use only" "internal use only"

55 Final Questions?

56 Presenter Information Genie Tyburski Web Manager, The Virtual Chase Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP EM:


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