July 24, 2008
Searching for someone's criminal record is free, and now it can be done online.
Several websites are popping up, promising to let you look up people's criminal history. All you need to know is their name and the state they live in.
Every county, city, and state keeps public records of criminal offenders, but now some websites are putting that information online.
Thanks to sites like dmv.org and criminalsearches.com, looking up someone's criminal record is more than easy. Sites are trying to make it entertaining.
Criminalsearches.com has a section on the list of criminals in your neighborhood from sex offenders to people with traffic tickets-- because even speeding violations show up on the site.
It's free, unlike the companion site people finder's.com, where you need to pay to look up where old classmates are living.
These websites come in handy for employers doing background searches, but they raise the question: what happens if there are errors or inaccuracies in the original public documents? If the original record keepers made a mistake, there's no fact-checking by the websites.
The sites have disclaimers saying the information they provide is "public domain", collected electronically, and presented "as is."
However, if you think an error has occurred you can report it.