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The TRUTH about "FREE" Criminal Records Searches

Joe Hoover

Enter "Free Criminal Records Search" in Google. Click on one of the listings. Enter your subject's name (this could be the only information that you have), and other personal information, your subject has provided. Your search results could be in the hundreds, depending on how common the name is and the breadth of your search area (a county, state, or national search). How do you identify which one is your subject?

Know this: There is a big difference between a "Criminal Records Search" and a "Criminal Background Check". A "Criminal Records Search' is searching a single database with the identifying information that you have been provided. A "Criminal Background Check", on the other hand, will discover and verify your subject's personal information, thereby establishing positive identity, plus searching a variety of databases.

Criminals are experts at supplying you with bogus information. They use aliases and variations of their name, change around or alter their date of birth, change their social security number, and leave out past addresses. How would you know these things, unless you had done a basic background check and address history search on them?

Even if you have established positive identification, what have you accomplished? You have searched a database, but what is the source of that database? Which states and counties contribute to that database? More important, which ones do not? There is no National Criminal Database and all databases are not created equal. Some are up-to-date, others are out-of-date. Some pay data brokers for a "data dump" once or twice a year. What if your subject committed a crime in the recent past? Would this show up on a free search? Most likely not!

Ask yourself why you want to conduct a Criminal Records search in the first place. Is it for peace of mind? Are you seeking a caretaker for children or a loved one? Are you looking to hire someone to work in a trusted position in your company and relieve yourself of liability? You may be deluding yourself, thinking a cheap search will alleviate your concerns.

Only a complete, thorough background check by a professional can provide you with the security that you need. Professional Search Experts follow time-proven procedures when conducting a complete background check. This would include a Civil Court records search and a Driving Records search as well as a Criminal Records search. These additional searches would likely not bring up criminal charges, but could indicate bad judgment and issues of character.

The following databases will be searched by professional researchers for a complete criminal background check:
  1. Department of Corrections (DOC) records in all states. This is a check for felonies committed; current and past offenders.
  2. Administration of the Court.  AOC data contains misdemeanor convictions from both the superior and municipal court level.
  3. Wants and Warrants.  Is your subject wanted for a possible crime?
  4. Department of Public Safety (DPS).  Includes traffic and sometimes other types of misdemeanor convictions from both the superior and municipal court level.
  5. County Criminal Record Search. More data in county records than any other public records. Recent criminal activity may be available only at the county level.
  6. Statewide Criminal Courts records for crimes committed within a particular county and reported to a centralized state-run database. (Note: Some states, like California, New York, West Virginia, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Wyoming, do not maintain centralized state-run databases)
  7. Federal Criminal Court Records. (If your subject has served time for committing a federal crime, you won't find a record in a DOC, Statewide, or County search.)
  8. Sex Offender Records. (Search experts know to check the entire United States)
  9. Civil lawsuits, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, and evictions (May not be a crime, but does reveal a lot about a person's character).
  10. Derogatory entries on a credit report: bankruptcies, liens and judgments (Does your subject have a history of bad debts and poor credit?).
  11. OFAC. The Office of Foreign Assets Control maintains the list of wanted and suspected terrorists. Collected from databases around the world, the OFAC database was created as a result of the USA Patriot Act.

For more information on conducting a criminal background check, read this article: How To Search Criminal Records.

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