What Is A Public Record?

PeopleFinders is the premier, trusted online provider of public records. We’ve helped over 10 million people confirm their trust in others and obtain the data they need.

But what exactly are public records? Use this handy guide to learn what they are, what kinds of information they provide, and how you can use them in everyday life.

Public Records Basics

Public records are local, county, state and federal documents that are classified as non-confidential, and therefore available to the public. They aren’t available just anywhere, however. The main repositories of public records are government and court clerks’ offices, libraries and, more recently, online databases.

Billions of these records are created every year in the United States. Many of the documents you fill out, sign and submit become public records. For example, new records are created from voter registration cards, census documents and even magazine subscription forms. Common types of public records include:

  • Current & Historical Records
  • Deceased Indicator
  • Property Records
  • Phone Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Court Records

What Public Records Provide

You’ll find a great deal of useful information in public records. Use them to learn about people, properties, businesses, crime, and other important topics.

Rely on public records when you need to find contact information, see details about a piece of real estate, or check court records. See below for more ideas on how you can use public records every day.

What Public Records Do Not Provide

Public records are available to anyone because they do not contain PII: Personally Identifiable Information. You will not find social security numbers, credit cards or other private data in a public record.

Public records information is not available to the public for minors (under 18 years), for people who don’t live in the U.S., or for anyone who has had their records blocked or sealed by the courts.

A public record will not contain personal data, and there are specific rules about how these records can and cannot be used. For more on that, read Public Records Do's and Don'ts.

How Public Records Can Help You

Public records info serves many possible purposes. Use them to:

Find People

– if you’ve ever lost touch with an old friend, former colleague, or family member, then you can understand why people are so eager to reconnect. Public records contain current phone numbers, addresses, and even email. So, you have plenty of options for reaching out. Look for anyone from your past with a people search.

Learn About Someone's History

– ever wish you could learn about someone before getting involved with them? Public records empower you to do just that. Use them to learn if a person ever declared bankruptcy, was convicted of a crime, or has anything else on their record that you should know. Get all that and more with a background check.

Review Property Records

– need information about a business or residential property? Public records can help with that, too. Property records provide a wealth of practical information, including the square footage, number of rooms, date last sold, and numerous other details. Find the data you need to make a smart real estate decision with a property search.

See Criminal and Arrest Records

– you might want to know if someone in your life has a criminal history. Criminal records searches show you any existing misdemeanors, felonies, arrest records, and more. You can also find out if someone is a registered sex offender. It’s an ideal way to get facts that help you to protect yourself and your loved ones.

New public records are created every day. When you’re looking for reliable public records data, turn to PeopleFinders We give you direct access to billions of records that help you find people, get property data and learn about just about anyone’s past.