Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Answers to 6-8

6. T/F Anyone may find out if and why I spent time in jail. See below.

7. T/F Anyone may find out if and why I spent time in prison.
Six and seven - true. In fact, in many states, there is an online database into which you may type a name and locate anyone incarcerated within the past few years. Here is where you really need to keep your wits about you. If you have a reason to search for someone, be careful, because there are a LOT - ahem, A LOT of companies out there just feeding off of ignorant individuals who don't know that they can get this information for free or for a reasonable fee. In fact, most of the other information I mention that is public falls into that same category. To obtain certain public domain records, you don't have to contact a company like Vital Records dot com or online investigation companies. Instead, you may simply request a copy from the entity that created it, keeping in mind that often there are copies of the same records available from more than one such entity. See below for details.

8. T/F Anyone may find out when and where I was born. Now births are a highly protected class of records. Good gravy, and when it comes to adoptions, it gets even more complex!!! I will save that discussion for another day, however. Birth records are often protected for about the same number of years as census records are protected, and even then some states (or countries) require you to state your relationship to the individual. If someone was trying to obtain your birth certificate without your permission, it is highly likely that you might be contacted and informed of the query.

That being said, there are situations where vital record departments have made digital or microfilmed copies of records and the repositories for these records may not extend the same protection over those records. These instances are rare, but even I have stumbled across modern record sets that were not protected like they should be. On a positive note, for historical purposes these copies may mean that rather than paying the Vital Records or Health Department $20.00 for a certified copy of an ancestral record, you may be able to go to the state archives for a $.50 copy of the same thing!

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