County Records Databases: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

County Records Databases

With county records increasingly available online, the temptation to conduct DIY searches grows ever stronger.  But before you undertake a search on your own, consider this: online records for many counties do not fully reflect all the information currently on file.

First, while many counties are in the process of bringing their records online, this operation is slow and not always straightforward.  Everything from state budget crises to federal government shutdowns can affect local government operations, leaving counties without adequate time or resources to make a full transfer.  In addition, the technological upgrades required for many county websites mean that record transfer can often be suspended in a pilot or “test run” state.

Sometimes existing records do not show up through county databases for inexplicable reasons – lost, forever, somewhere between the filing cabinet and cyberspace.  This problem is most pronounced with free online searchable third party databases. These third party providers have not populated their database with data directly from the Recorder’s office making results less than trustworthy.

This gap between records on file and records online can lead to misreporting and unhappy clients.  Unfortunately there is not an easy way to know if you are working with a reliable online resource. This is where Boomerang comes in.  With our depth of expertise and the personal connections to the counties we cover, we know when and where to check, to double check, and to triple check to make sure you can trust the information you receive.  Using Boomerang cannot only save you time, but from the embarrassing experience of an angry client calling about a missed record.

A few months ago we received a call from someone who had conducted their own online records search.  Records were missed. Their client was furious, and they had come to us for help. As soon as we heard the name of the county they were searching, we knew why.  As a rural Indiana county still in the process of transferring its records, there were significant gaps in what was available to the general public in a basic online search.  With one call to our contact in the Recorder’s office, we were able to identify the gap in information and help our client deliver accurate results.

Someday in the future online searching may, in fact, become more universally reliable (blockchain anyone?).  Until that time, however, Boomerang can be an effective and efficient way to meet your research needs.

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