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How to Solve 3 Common Challenges with Court Record Source Transparency

By Julia Williams

Pulling people data is difficult.  Between knowing where you need to search, understanding which court records are relevant to the person in question, and pinpointing the right person in a sea of information, the challenges of background screenings are very real.

Fortunately, there are now ways to know what court data you’re able to pull via on-demand court records versus which data you need to send court runners for.

This is all made clear – down to the data points available – by working with data providers that offer full court record source transparency.

The 3 Big Challenges in Accessing Public Criminal Records

If accessing public criminal data was simple, none of us would be here trying to find faster, more affordable ways to make it happen. But it’s not easy, and it’s certainly not always fast.

In fact, there are a lot of common challenges for companies pulling background data into a comprehensive report.  Let’s take a look at the top three: Dispersed court records, variable data by jurisdiction, and limited personal identifiable information (PII) available.

1. Dispersed Court Records

Criminal data is scattered across the nation through federal, state, county, and local courts, making finding the necessary court records related to an individual difficult.

With 50 states and over 3,000 counties, retrieving these dispersed records can be quite time consuming and, frankly, a bit of a headache.

It can require running multiple searches across a handful of states in different courts just to find the records you need – and that’s if they’re available online!  If they’re not available online, it’s sending court runners to each of the courthouses in question. Timing and logistics, let alone cost, can be a nightmare.

2. Variable Data by Court and Jurisdiction

The challenge of finding complete people data continues as court record data and available personal identifiable information varies by court and jurisdiction.

That’s right, the availability of PII, such as full name, date of birth (DOB), birth year, birth month and day, age, or address is totally dependent on the individual court.

This means if you need to search 5 courts, you could receive 5 different court record formats that you have to wade through. Or, even worse, after running those county courts on demand, you may find the results don’t offer the PII you need, requiring you to still send a court runner or do additional research – surprise!

3. Limited PII Available

In case those two challenges haven’t left you questioning why you’re in this field, there’s one more trend that is making pulling court records even more challenging – redaction.

A current hot topic is the redactions in court records, making people data increasingly difficult, as certain case details may be prohibited from public view. This can involve the removal of PII, causing additional hurdles a researcher must navigate to confirm that a record matches an individual being searched.

For example, some states like California and Michigan are creating policies to prohibit public access to date of birth information. Because of these policies, retrieving DOB information is becoming much harder.

These various state regulations and redactions just add to the challenge of retrieving complete, accurate court record data.

What if you knew what criminal record data was available? 

With all of the challenges to finding the required court data, it can be difficult for background screeners to select a data vendor and background screening solution to use. This is especially true when court data source information is not readily available.

How are users supposed to make confident data buying decisions without having an understanding of what sources are available or what types of data each search will return?

The answer is simple: Use data providers that offer source transparency and insight into what court record details are available from each county. It allows for more efficient, high-quality searches and avoids unpleasant surprises.

Benefits of Court Record Source Transparency

Having visibility into your court record results before you even run a search comes with huge benefits. You’ll know where to conduct research online versus with court runners, what court information you’ll receive, and what the cost will be. These alone offer you the following key benefits:

  • Curate more complete background reports in fewer steps. By understanding what details a data provider typically returns, you’ll be able to pull county court records with more complete information strategically rather than receiving incomplete results and needing to rerun the searches elsewhere.
  • Work with data providers you can trust. If your vendor can’t tell you what data sources they are pulling from or what type of data you’ll receive, how can you trust the results? Talk to your provider and understand the data you’re searching and receiving. You deserve that as a valued customer.
  • Use the Clear Strategy to save time and money: While some jurisdictions may offer limited PII, if you know that up front, you can leverage those counties to clear names faster and send court runners only where there are relevant records to be retrieved.  This can speed up your turnaround time and decrease your court research costs.
  • Always find the data you’re looking for. Select data providers and the individual jurisdictions to search based on the data you will receive. Want to pull records only with more PII? No problem. With upfront visibility into the data you receive, you can make informed research decisions.

Vendors that provide these source details empower their clients to improve their daily workflow by truly understanding the searches and sources they are running. Don’t you deserve that kind of visibility?

Gain Visibility with Tessera’s Court Record Source Transparency

Tessera Data™ values its customers and offers them clarity on the depth of the information available at the county or court levels. Want to know which search is best for your particular data needs? Customers can log in and view our Automated Criminal Tier Maps in the Tessera Client Portal.

This self-service resource provides visibility into the types of court record details you will receive from each jurisdiction. This includes which ones you are currently using and court records you are not currently using but that may be of value to you.

Visit this Tier Map time and time again to understand which searches are best for your data needs before you even initiate a search.

Advantages of Automated Criminal Records from Tessera

Beyond our belief that you deserve to understand your data and the sources you’re searching, we also offer many other advantages you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere:

  • Faster turnaround time: Use advanced automated technology to obtain court data faster than ever before. At Tessera, our customers are able to complete background screenings up to 98% faster than traditional court runner methods.
  • Direct access: Elevate your criminal background research with direct access to federal, statewide, county court, and sex offender information. You’ll gain access to over 5,400 courts with search results available quickly – some jurisdictions are available in as little as 5 minutes!
  • Full source transparency: Understand your data. From the courts you’re searching to the data you’re receiving, you shouldn’t be in the dark about what court data you’ll be receiving and if it fits your needs. You deserve to be in the know.
  • Scalable solutions: Tessera has extensive data coverage and customizable, scalable solutions. Whether you run a small quantity of searches each month or are looking for a data provider that can keep up with your growth, Tessera can help.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our Automated Criminal Records. Our team can walk you through our self-service tools, such as our Tier Map and Source List to ensure you know the data you’re using to make important trust and safety decisions.


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