Below are several links that are helpful when conducting a New York background check on a company or an individual. Although this does not cover all of the sources available in New York, these are some of the more useful links when conducting a New York background check:
One of the most critical areas in conducting a background check is court records. The New York State Unified Court System maintains an online case information system called E-courts which provides free case information for criminal, family, housing court as well as active and disposed civil supreme and local civil courts. In certain cases, where cases have been filed electronically, docket sheets as well as certain court documents are also available online. Based on our own research, while this site can be a helpful starting point and appears to be updated regularly, this is not a comprehensive search. We have found numerous instances where onsite searches in local courts or searches through third party databases came across lawsuits that were not on the e-courts system, especially cases more than a few years old.
The New York Department of State corporation and business entity database can be searched for the status of corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships to determine if the entity is active or inactive. In most cases, the website will also identify the initial incorporation date, entity address, business type and corporate name history, but the site does not provide names of officers, directors or registered agents (which is typically the most critical information). The site does not allow you to search by officer, director, or registered agent, so you will have to know the name of the company that you are searching, although third-party databases typically provide the names. Copies of incorporation documents can be ordered directly from the website, but if you need documents in a hurry, you can use outside services, which can typically get records within a few days.
ACRIS is one most comprehensive local government databases of property records that we have come across. Not only do they have records dating back 30+ years, but in most cases copies of deeds, mortgages and transfers can be viewed or downloaded from the website for free. The ACRIS website also includes purchases of co-operative apartments and can search federal tax liens as well. This database only covers the five boroughs of New York (Kings, Queens, Richmond, Bronx and New York counties).
The New York Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) is a central repository for statewide criminal history records throughout the state of New York. A statewide criminal record search can be conducted for $65 based on a exact name and date of birth match. Applications can be submitted in person or mailed and results will be returned within a few days. Private investigators typically have direct access to OCA and records can be retrieved within 24 hours, but typically results can be received within a few hours.
The New York Division of Criminal Justice Services provides a database of category 2 (moderate risk) or category 3 (high risk) sex offenders; by law, Level 1 (low risk) sex offenders are not published. The database can be searched by Last Name, County or Zip Code.
The New York State Office of Professions database can confirm the status hundreds of professional licenses overseen by the Education Department including Accountants, Doctors and Nurses. There is also a separate list of licenses overseen by the Division of Licensing which includes private investigators and real estate professionals. The type of information differs based on the license, but typically the status of the license, date of original license and any disciplinary actions that have been filed against the licensee is provided.
The New York State Department of Corrections offers an online database of anyone who has been confined in state prison since the early 1970’s, providing specific details on the dates of incarceration, crimes convicted, facility of incarceration and other details. This does not include persons who were committed to city or county level prisons. Also note, that most white-collar criminals are typically incarcerated in federal prison.