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Free Federal Public Records for Background Checks

 Shortcuts to National Records Descriptions
Federal Records Library of Congress
National Archives
Bureau of Census
Soundex Coding System
Civil Service Commission
Social Security Commission
IRS
Interpol
Department of Justice
Passport Service
Selective Service Commission
Federal Prisoner Locator
Federal Courts
National Center for Missing Children
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Securities & Exchange Commission
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Federal Records

Searching through the giant repositories of records maintained by he federal government might prove a test of endurance for even the most stalwart and undaunted. Obtaining data from the records of a national organization or association, by comparison, might be as simple as making a phone call or writing a request letter.

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Here are some links to sites that will lead you to any Federal Agency:

The United States Government Manual
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual/index.html

Description: United States Government Manual 2009-2010 provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, as well as quasi-official agencies, international organizations in which the United States participates, boards, commissions, and committees. Each agency's description consists of a list of principal officials; a summary statement of the agency's purpose and role in the Federal Government; a brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority; and a description of consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, and publications. Locate the U.S. Government Manual (including editions prior to 1995-96) in a local Government Printing Office GPO or Purchase a Copy.

US Government Organization Manual
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual/index.html

As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies, international organizations in which the United States participates, and boards, commissions, and committees. The Manual begins with reprints of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The new edition of the Manual is available annually in late summer. More.

Locate the U.S. Government Manual (including editions prior to 1995-96) in a local Government Printing Office GPO or Purchase a Copy.

US Government Printing Office
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html

The U.S. Government Printing Office disseminates official information from all three branches of the Federal Government. Locate a local Government Printing Office (GPO)

Fed World - Search the Web Federal Locator
FedWorld.gov

The FedWorld.gov web site is a gateway to government information. This site is managed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) as part of it's information management mandate

Federal Citizen's Information Center

http://info.gov/

Have a question about Federal programs, benefits, or services? The Federal Citizen's Information Center handles millions of inquiries from citizens trying to find answers to their questions about government. Pick your favorite way to get out of the government maze!

Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/index.html

Reference Center: http://www.loc.gov/rr/

The Library of Congress is the largest information source in the country and contains the original or a copy of almost every known book and document ever published! Contact the Library of Congress Information Office, Washington, DC 20540, to find out about the thousands of references and other information sources available. All the resources of this great library are available to you through your local public library.

The Library of Congress is a mind-boggling treasure trove of information. So many subjects covered: photos, maps, books. Just about every book that's been written. Every sort of record; millions of pieces of information.

The Library of Congress has city directories for the entire world! If you want to look up the address of someone in  Rome, Italy, for instance, you'll find who lives at a specific address, spouse's name, the phone number, and the person's occupation.

National Archives
http://www.archives.gov/index.html

The National Archives is located on Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC. It is the central federal repository for every known report, study, census, military record, and document the US Government has ever printed.

Census records of the wars this county has been involved in - the Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, are maintained within the National Archives. Old ship passenger lists are maintained.

The nice thing about the archives is if you go there on a frequent basis, you can stop at the front desk and they'll issue you a researcher's card, which helps expedite getting information. Go into different sections of the archives and merely display the card to gain access. There's no fee.  Staff members will render assistance and help you get the information in an expeditious manner.

The Guide to the National Archives

The Guide to the National Archives of the US is the most complete explanation of the several services offered by the National Archives. Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States . The Web Version of the Guide. This web version of the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States is based on a paper version with the same title compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al in 1995. This version incorporates descriptive information about federal records acquired by the National Archives after the 1995 paper edition went to press, and it is regularly updated to reflect new acquisitions of federal records. Purchase Guides


National Archives and Records Administration
http://www.archives.gov/

 The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.

Those valuable records are preserved and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family’s history, need to prove a veteran’s military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you. Learn more

National Personnel Records Center
National Records Centers

The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. NPRC (MPR) also stores medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities. Information from the records is made available upon written request (with signature and date) to the extent allowed by law

Call or write to obtain information about access to personnel records of people who were employed by the Civil Service, US Postal Service, retired military personnel, and for the medical records of dependents of active duty (US Army and Air Force) personnel:

The center is part of the General Service Administration and maintains military personnel records. These records are open only to the servicemen they pertain to. There are a couple of exceptions: anyone can request a look at the records of a person who served prior to World War I; and "Next of kin" may request information about a veteran who is deceased. You must prove death.

Soundex Coding Guide

Knowledge of the Soundex Coding System used by The National Archives will help you if you are conducting a search for an individual.

View this web page for additional information:

National Archives and Records Administration The Genealogy Page.
The Soundex Indexing System http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/census/soundex.html

Code Number Key Code Number Key Letters and Equivalents
Surname to Soundex Calculator 1 b,p,f,v
2 c,s,k,g,j,q,x,z
3 d,t
4 l
5 m,n
6 r

The letters a, e, i, o, u, y, w, and h are not coded. The first letter of the surname is retained; it is not given a number code. A name yielding no code numbers is coded with three zeros following the initial letter. If it yields only one code number, then that is followed by two zeros; two code numbers, by one zero (see examples below). Prefixes to surnames (such as Van, Von, Di, De) are frequently disregarded in alphabetizing and coding.

Regardless of length, each name has one letter followed by three numbers. For names with more than three letters that can be coded following the first letter, only the first three are coded (see examples below). When double letters appear - or letters bearing the same code number appear together - the two are coded as one letter.

Sample coded names:
  • ASKIN A225
  • BAXTER B236
  • CARON C650
  • DAVIES D120
  • DAVIS D120
  • LEE L000
  • PATRICK P362
  • REINHARDT R563
  • WHALEY W400
US Civil Service Commission
Records of the US Civil Service Commission

Records are maintained about all employees of the federal government by the US Civil Service Commission. The Commission will forward a letter addressed to a retired Civil Service employee.  It has no locator service. You may have to inquire from the civilian locator at the military base or government installation to find or trace a former employee.

Bureau of Census
http://www.census.gov/

Every ten years Census Bureau personnel conduct a survey and manage to count just about everybody in the country. Census records from 1790 (except for those from 1890 and 1920, which were destroyed by fire) are housed in the National Archives and at each of the Branch Archives. The Index of Federal Census Record  will tell you which roll of microfilm contains the name of a given person in a given town. Locate a Regional Office.

Department of Commerce,
http://www.commerce.gov/

The Commerce Department's mission is to help make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.

Comprised of 12 different agencies responsible for everything from weather forecasts to patent protection, the Commerce Department touches the lives of Americans every day. Find out more about Commerce.

Interstate Commerce Commission
Records of the Interstate Commerce Commission [ICC]

The Commerce Commission keeps records of people who work within the trucking industry. If you are attempting to locate a person whose business is governed by ICC regulations,
contact the ICC.

Government Printing Office
http://www.gpo.gov/

GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides public access to Government information submitted by Congress and Federal agencies and preserved as technology changes.

Federal Depository Library Directory (FDLD) - Locate a Library

The US Government Printing Office (GPO) publishes many pamphlets and books for and about every government function. It has books to assist you in locating the kind of information you need from federal departments.

The Index to US Government Periodicals and US Government Books are excellent sources of reference to help you locate the right materials. The periodical index lists publications, including magazines, newsletters, and reports printed on a regular or periodic basis. Another helpful publication,

Where to Write for Vital Records, will tell you where to get information about births, marriages, divorces, and deaths from each state.

Social Security Administration
http://www.ssa.gov/

This government agency maintains a record about everyone ever issued a SSN. It is illegal for the Social Security Administration to release information about anyone, but the Administration will help you locate the person you seek for certain reasons:
  • The person you seek will somehow benefit
  • To locate missing friends, relatives
  • To locate heirs to estates
  • For medical reasons
Write a letter to the person you seek. Place it inside an envelope. Leave that envelope unsealed and mail with a letter to: Contact the Social Security Administration.

Include all the information you have, including name, last known address, SSN, DOB, last known employer, and date of employment. A Social Security death claims search will give information about retirement or death. Contact a local Social Security office, listed in white pages of the phone directory, about fee information.

The Social Security Administration releases records concerning retired SSN numbers and non-valid numbers. This data is purchased by on-line vendors. A SSN death claims search will tell you if a SSN has been retired (a death claim filed under that number), and give you the zip code of the decedent. NTIS.gov database searches the official Social Security Administration Death Index- Requires a subscription Fee.  Ancestry.com offers a free death index search which is quite up to date and accurate.

There is valuable information to be gained from the SSN itself:

The first three numbers of a SSN will indicate the state in which the card was issued, which is a tip as to the home state of the subject. Keep this in mind when conducting missing persons investigations.

People are creatures of habit. There is an old saying among criminal investigators that the criminal will often return to the scene of the crime. The same adage holds true for a missing person: he or she will often return to the state in which a Social Security card was issued.

The first three digits of the SSN will indicate the area in which the card was issued:
  • 001-003 N. Hampshire
  • 004-007 Maine
  • 008-009 Vermont
  • 010-034 Mass.
  • 035-039 Rhode Island
  • 040-049 Connecticut
  • 050-134 New York
  • 135-158 New Jersey
  • 159-211 Pennsylvania
  • 212-220 Maryland
  • 221-222 Delaware
  • 223-231 Virginia
  • 232-236 W. Virginia
  • 237-246 N. Carolina
  • 247-251 S. Carolina
  • 252-260 Georgia
  • 261-267 Florida
  • 268-302 Ohio
  • 303-317 Indiana
  • 362-386 Michigan
  • 387-399 Wisconsin
  • 400-407 Kentucky
  • 408-415 Tennessee
  • 433-439 Louisiana
  • 440-448 Oklahoma
  • 449-467 Texas
  • 468-477 Minnesota
  • 478-485 Iowa
  • 486-500 Missouri
  • 501-502 North Dakota
  • 503-504 South Dakota
  • 505-508 Nebraska
  • 509-515 Kansas
  • 516-517 Montana
  • 518-519 Idaho
  • 520-520 Wyoming
  • 521-524 Colorado
  • 525-525 New Mexico
  • 526-527 Arizona
  • 529-529 Utah
  • 530-530 Nevada
  • 531-539 Washington
  • 540-544 Oregon
  • 545-573 California
  • 574-574 Alaska
  • 575-576 Hawaii
  • 577-579 DC
Social Security Administration has issued new geographic information:
  • 580- Virgin Islands
  • 581-585 Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa,
Philippines
  • 586 Guam, Am. Samoa, Marian
  • 588 New Number: Mississippi
  • 589-595 New Numbers: Florida
  • 596-599 New Numbers: Puerto Rico
  • 600-601 New Numbers: Arizona
  • 602-626 New Numbers: California
  • 627-645 New Numbers: Texas
  • 646-647 New Numbers: Utah
  • 648-649 New Numbers: N. Mexico
Social Search

A social search is a database search making use of a SSN. Contact a database Information Provider to arrange for this service. Investigative Professionals can perform this search for you.

Internal Revenue Service
http://www.irs.gov/

IRS records are private, but the Service will release information if proper procedures are followed. The process is somewhat time-consuming, but the information you receive may prove invaluable, especially if all other information searches prove fruitless.  The IRS will provide this service if the locate is for "humanitarian" reasons:
  • Urgent or compelling in nature, such as illness
  • Imminent death, or death of a close relative
  • To locate a missing relative
Write a letter to the person you wish to locate. Place it in an envelope and leave that envelope unsealed. Place that envelope inside another envelope along with a request letter to the IRS, stating the reason you seek the Service's assistance.

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Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/

The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement helps locate parents who owe outstanding child support. Officials search federal and other national records not ordinarily open to citizens. You must apply for this service through your state Child Support Enforcement office.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Website for the National Center

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conducts investigations concerning missing children and children kidnapped by their parents. Available: the excellent Investigator's Guide to Missing Child Cases & Parental Kidnapping by Investigator's Guide to Missing Child Cases & Parental Kidnapping by John C. Patterson.

U.S. Justice Department - Immigration & Naturalization

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis

If you seek information concerning a foreign born, naturalized U.S. citizen, write or call to request the proper form.
 

The records will show:

  • Full name
  • DOB
  • Nationality
Some of these records are maintained in federal court.
More information from Ancestry.com

They will include:

  • Full name; spouse
  • Date and place of birth
  • Occupation
  • Arrival date, location
  • Aboard which vessel
Interpol
http://www.interpol.int/

 This International Police Organization may help with child abduction and parental kidnapping cases.

Department of State, Passport Service
http://travel.state.gov/passport/

This department can provide birth certificates and information about citizens born outside the U.S., as well as those who may be traveling or residing abroad. Help for foreign born adoptees.

Selective Service Commission
http://www.sss.gov/

This office maintains records of every man who has ever registered for the draft.

Federal Witness Protection Program

This office may verify if a person is in the Program and may forward a letter for you.

Federal Courts
http://www.uscourts.gov/Home.aspx

Called District Courts, these Federal government offices maintain records about cases involving civil, criminal, and bankruptcy litigation. There are 93 Federal Judicial Districts, called "United States District Courts." All districts are located within a state's boundaries.

The local courthouse, the county court, and the district court hold a wealth of information because of exhibits involved in the cases. Don't expect to go in there and open a case file and find the subject's IRS returns for the last 10 years, list of bank accounts, criminal record, or anything like that in every file.  It's not going to be there. All depends on the file itself.

The Fed's computer, NCIC, is off limits to PI's and ordinary citizens. Best way to find out if a person has a criminal record or has been arrested: check the federal courthouse.  Those court records are public records. Many times the U.S. Attorney will have the NCIC records of all past arrests in that file. Public record.

County Jail Inmate Locator
http://www.corrections.com/links/show/20

Department of Justice, Federal Prison System
http://www.bop.gov/

The Inmate Locate Service has information about all inmates in the federal prison system: Department of Justice  Use this page to locate a Federal inmate incarcerated from 1982 to present

For information on Federal inmates released before 1982, Write the Office of Communications and Archives. Attn: Historic Inmate Locator Request. See: Released Before 1982 Page.

Securities & Exchange Commission
http://www.sec.gov/

The SEC Litigation Index lists persons involved in litigation with the SEC and provides information about all public companies. The SEC frequently requires in-depth information from public companies.  That information is open to you.

The record will show:
  • Name of principals
  • Principals' background information
  • Financial information, including corporate reports
  • SEC litigation involvement
The Federal Trade Commission maintains records that pertain to interstate trade. The Security and Exchange Commission maintains records for business firms. If you were doing an investigation on a business firm, one of the first places you would begin would be at the SEC.

Complete records may also be kept at United States District Courthouses. Look under "United States Federal Government" in the white pages of your telephone book.

Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) DATABASE - EDGAR
http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml

All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here you'll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.

Order a Background Check online now!. Experienced database search specialists will immediately go to work for you, to quickly return real, meaningful results. See our Sample Report Our Expert Background Checks offers guaranteed search results, free consultation and 24 hour return.

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