Online detective 3.31.11

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  • 1. Be an Online Detective! Finding People and More Using Online Sources
  • 2. Today’s Agenda
    • The World of Online Public Records
    • Searching for People Using Online Tools
    • Protecting Your Personal Information Online?
  • 3. Where Does FREE Online Personal Info Come From?
    • Public Records
      • Drivers license records, campaign contributions . . .
    • Publicly Available Information
      • Phone listings, professional directories . . .
    • Published Information
      • Newspaper articles, death and wedding notices . . .
    • Personally Provided Information
      • Blog postings, social network sites . . .
  • 4. What Are Public Records?
    • Public records are maintained by government agencies (federal, state, or local) as directed by law and made available to the public (e.g., occupational licenses)
    • Publicly available records are maintained by private agencies and made available to the public without restrictions (e.g., telephone listings)
  • 5. Myths about Public Records
    • All government records are public records
    • Certain categories of government records are always public records
    • All public records are freely and readily available to anyone
    • All public records are available online
  • 6. Finding Illinois Public Records
    • Few Illinois public records are available for free online
    • Private companies buy public records in bulk from Illinois agencies and resell them
    • Some resold public record information then shows up for free online
  • 7. Illinois Public Records Available for Free Online
    • Property Records (Cook County)
    • Business Registrations
    • Professional Licenses
    • Campaign Contributions
    • Sex Offenders and Inmates
  • 8. Illinois Public Records NOT Available for Free Online
    • Vital Records (Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates) unless 50+ years old
    • Criminal Records
    • Court Records, with minor exceptions
    • Voter Registrations
    • Motor Vehicle Records
  • 9. Property Records
    • Cook County Assessor’s Office ( www.cookcountyassessor.com )
      • Search by address to find PIN and photo of property
    • Cook County Treasurer’s Office ( www.cookcountytreasurer.com )
      • Search by PIN to find who owns a property
  • 10. More Property Records
    • Cook County Recorder of Deeds ( www.ccrd.info )
      • Search by PIN to find mortgage information
      • Search by name to see property owned by a person
    • Zillow.com ( www.zillow.com )
      • Find estimated market values for homes
  • 11. Home Sales
    • Chicago Tribune Home Purchases ( www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/sell )
      • Cook and surrounding counties only
    • Public-Record.com ( databases.skokielibrary.info )
      • Provides home sale data to Chicago Tribune
      • Also has information on foreclosures, tax sales, bankruptcies, new businesses and homeowners
  • 12. Federal Campaign Contributions
    • OpenSecrets Donor Lookup ( www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.php )
      • Search by name for people who contributed $200 or more to a federal political campaign from 1990 to the present
    • FundRace ( fundrace.huffingtonpost.com )
      • Search by name or address for people who contributed $200 or more to the 2004, 2008, or 2010 federal elections
  • 13. Sex Offenders & Crime
    • Illinois Sex Offender Information ( www.isp.state.il.us/sor/sor.cfm )
      • Search for sex offenders by name or zip code
    • Chicago Crime Map ( gis.chicagopolice.org/CLEARMap/startPage.htm )
  • 14. Vital Records
    • Cook County Clerk’s Office Vital Records ( www.cookctyclerk.com/sub/vital_records.asp )
      • Vital records can be requested in person, by mail, at currency exchange, or online
      • Request forms, fees, and ID required
      • Only related parties can request vital records less than 20 or so years old
    • VitalChek ( www.vitalchek.com )
      • Private company expedites records requests for a fee
  • 15. Old Vital Records
    • FamilySearch ( www.familysearch.org )
      • Good source for Cook County vital records 50+ years old
    • Database of Illinois Death Certificates, 1916-1950 ( www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/idphdeathsrch.html )
      • Very basic information (name and date of death) for Illinois residents
  • 16. Why Are Some People Hard to Find?
    • Some names are very common
    • Some people change their names or use variations on their names
    • Some people have unlisted numbers, nonpublished numbers, or just a cell phone
    • Some people are dead
  • 17. Is Someone Dead?
    • Social Security Death Index at Rootsweb ( ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.com ) or Ancestry ( databases.skokielibrary.info )
    • Unofficial Social Security Number Verification/ Decoding ( www.blackbookonline.info/bbo_ssnvalidator.htm )
  • 18. Library Phone Directories
    • ReferenceUSA ( databases.skokielibrary.info )
      • Stronger for business listings than residential
      • Residential information taken from print phonebooks—may be out of date!
      • Good for reverse look-ups and neighbor searches
  • 19. Library Phone Directories
    • Masterfiles (ask at Reference Desk)
      • Telephone numbers updated daily from phone companies
      • Includes names and addresses for nonpublished numbers
      • Must be searched by a Librarian
  • 20. Reverse Look-Ups
    • Haines Criss-Cross Directories (print)
      • Best source for reverse look-ups for Chicago and suburbs
      • Includes names and addresses for nonpublished listings
    • Phone Validator ( www.phonevalidator.com )
      • Indicates whether a phone number is from a cell phone or landline, its geographic area, and provider
    • Melissa DATA ( www.melissadata.com/lookups )
      • Do many different kinds of reverse look-ups from this page
  • 21. Cell Phone Numbers and Email Addresses
    • No good way to get this information for free
    • Intelius ( www.intelius.com ) sells email address and cell phone numbers on its website
    • Some people provide their email addresses on their own websites
  • 22. Online People Finders
    • WhitePages.com ( www.whitepages.com )
      • Provides addresses, phone numbers, ages, and spouse’s names
      • Good for reverse look-ups and neighbor searches
    • Zabasearch ( www.zabasearch.com )
      • Provides assorted addresses, phone numbers, and birth years from public record sources
    • Zoominfo ( www.zoominfo.com )
      • Provides occupational info for people
  • 23. Fee Sites with Free Info
    • Intelius ( www.intelius.com ) and USSearch ( www.ussearch.com )
      • Provides ages, previous cities lived in, and lists of relatives
    • Check Illinois ( consumer.public-record.com )
      • Preview search results for Illinois public records
    • Spokeo ( www.spokeo.com )
      • Includes lifestyle information
  • 24. Major Social Network Sites
    • Social networking sites allow people to post personal information with varying restrictions
      • MySpace ( www.myspace.com )
      • Facebook ( www.facebook.com )
      • Friendster ( www.friendster.com )
      • LinkedIn ( www.linkedin.com )
        • Professional and business oriented
  • 25. Meta Search Sites
    • Search multiple public record and social networking sites at the same time from these sites:
      • Pipl ( www.pipl.com )
      • iSearch ( www.isearch.com )
  • 26. Helpful Search Engine
    • Yippy ( search.yippy.com )
      • Clusters search results into useful categories
      • May be helpful searching for people with common names
  • 27. Other Interesting Sites
    • Teacher Salary Database ( www.familytaxpayers.org/salary.php )
      • See how much an Illinois public school teacher earns
    • Birthdatabase.com ( www.birthdatabase.com )
      • Find someone’s date of birth
    • The Smoking Gun ( www.thesmokinggun.com )
      • View public records on celebrity mishaps
  • 28. Collections of Useful Links
    • Black Book Online ( www.blackbookonline.info )
      • Many useful links for the amateur detective
    • BRB’s Free Resource Center ( www.brbpub.com/pubrecsites.asp )
      • Collection of links to public record sites provided by major publisher of public records books
  • 29. Protecting Your Privacy
    • Get a new phone number and make it unlisted or nonpublished
    • Check sites for their privacy settings before making personal posts
    • Be aware that anything you post online may be found by other people
  • 30. Avoid Releasing Personal Information
    • Be careful about releasing personal information to private companies
      • Warranty or product registration cards
      • Sweepstakes or contest forms
      • Online coupon sites
    • Read privacy policies of businesses and websites to see if they share your personal data