The need to conduct background checks on your friends, acquaintances and even family can easily be justified. Whether you want to verify someone you met online, reconnect with an old college friend, or ensure you're not being lied to by the people you love, performing a free background check in New York is, in most cases, a smart move.
The only dilemma is knowing where to look. Thankfully, this article has listed links to available resources in New York that allow the general public to access state, public and criminal records. But, first, let's take a look at why anyone would want to find out how to conduct a background check on the people they know.
Why You Should Conduct a Background Check in New York
Getting any individual record in New York is a wise decision since the city is the most populous city in the United States. Acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and even close relatives can risk your family's safety. The only way to stay safe is by doing a quick background check, especially if someone's behavior seems suspicious or out of character.
People in New York conduct background checks for a variety of reasons. From verifying their new babysitter, neighbor, or even love interest to searching up suspicious spam calls and phishing emails, there are plenty of valid reasons why anyone would want to conduct a quick background search no matter where they live.
Conducting a Premium Background Check in New York: What You Need to Know
Before explaining how to access state records in New York for free, there's one important issue that should be addressed. All free background check resources provided by the state only document information for that specific area. This makes it easy to miss crucial details that would only be uncovered with a nation-wide background check.
Typically, the best way to conduct a nation-wide is with a paid-for online service.
Though this might not be what you're looking for, it's best to take a look at these websites before running ahead and requesting data manually via an online or in-person application. There are three popular sites in particular that can deliver highly accurate reports and offer a number of helpful tools in addition to background checks.
Truthfinder is a great choice for anyone who wants to conduct a quick and thorough background inquiry on anyone they know. Users will need to provide the individual's name and state to run a search. Plus, you can filter your searches based on the information you're looking for. Reports typically uncover marriage and divorce records, arrest records, criminal history, and more.
Intelius is another popular people search site. The platform provides quick results, and users can run a search using the person's name, phone number, or address. Reports are known to reveal a substantial amount of info, including contact information, assets, criminal records, arrest records, and more.
Instant Checkmate boasts unlimited reports and provides access to an impressive range of public data. Users can perform a search based on a person's name, city, or state. Plus, there's even a reverse phone lookup tool, and you can find out whether the person you're looking up is a registered sex offender.
How Can I Conduct a Free Background Check in New York?
The best way to do a 100% free background search in New York is via record-specific state-wide databases. These portals contain criminal records, vital records, arrest records, and more.
Though bear in mind that these databases only cover information recorded in New York and are also unable to search social media accounts or subscriptions to dating sites, etc. If you're planning to run a background check on someone in a different state, or if you want to verify someone you met online, a nation-wide background check service will be the better option.
Accessing Records in New York
Accessing public records in NY works a little differently than in other states because there are two different systems in place for delivering public information.
The New York Freedom of Information Law, otherwise known as FOIL, covers New York City while the rest of the state is governed differently. This means that people residing in smaller towns outside of NYC may have to follow a different procedure when requesting information versus New York City Residents.
Moreover, the New York Police Department enforces different restrictions and acts independently despite being governed by the same laws as the rest of the city. With so many factors at play, running a background check yourself can be a time-consuming and complicated process.
Still, listed below is a short guide specific to New York to help people request the information they need.
New York Court Records
Link to Court Records: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivil/ecourtsMain
Court records contain an extensive amount of information as they document every aspect of a case, starting from the court filing or arrest to the final sentencing or judgment. These records include but are not limited to transcripts, case files, minutes, dockets, orders, sentencing, jury records, and witness documentation.
To file a request for court records in New York, you must contact the local clerk's office where the case was handled.
New York Criminal Records
Link to Criminal Records: http://www.nycourts.gov/APPS/chrs/onlinedirectaccess.shtml
Criminal records are different from court records as they document an individual's contact with law enforcement.
When requesting information from this database, records will be pulled from local police departments, prisons, and criminal courts and typically include the person's name, nationality, birthdate, mugshot, fingerprints, noticeable features (tattoos, scars), and a list detailing any offenses.
New York Arrest Records
Link to Arrest Records: http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/kinqw00
With over 51.000 inmates, it's not unheard of that a witness or victim would want to look up an inmate's status in New York. Arrest records or inmate records usually document the following information: name, gender, birthdate, mugshot, location, jail transfer data, inmate registration number, and custody status.
New York Vital Records
Link to Vital Records: https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/
Vital records can help verify a person's identity and be useful for many other legal reasons. They include death, birth, marriage, and divorce records. However, there are restrictions that affect requesting this information.
Similar to marriage licenses or death records, to request a vital record, you must complete a form detailing the place and approximate date of the event, the person's full name (maiden name included), and a case file number.
City and County-Specific Records in New York
Some counties in New York have unique systems and databases to search for background information. They include:
- Albany County
- Dutchess County
- Tompkins County
- Ulster County
The Bottom Line: How to Conduct a Free Background Check in New York
While it's indeed possible to manually request information from various different records in New York, the process can be overly complicated and confusing to follow. Plus, your request can be denied if you fail to fill in the correct information and don't meet certain criteria.
The easiest way to perform a background check while simultaneously searching through all available records nation-wide, not just in New York, is with a legitimate background check service such as the ones mentioned above.
Not only can these sites search through every available public record, but they can also lookup a user's social media accounts and offer useful tools such as reverse email lookup and more.
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Updated: April 5th, 2021
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