Friday, February 29, 2008

Why Search Corporate Records? WHY NOT???

We've updated all of our Corporate Records and UCC filings links!

Corporate records are a widely available, usually free, and completely underused source of information. When would they come in handy you ask? Any of the following would be a perfect example of when you should look into corporate records.

Your hiring a contractor.
Your looking into a dog walking service.
Your putting a loved one in a "retirement community"
Your partnering with another business.
Your looking to purchase something on the Internet.
Your investigating a person or company.
Your considering using a company your unfamiliar with.

The reasons are ENDLESS. The fact is, any company with a little cash can put out a commercial, a pay per click ad or other means of getting your attention. That doesn't mean they're trustworthy. Companies pop up every day and companies shut down every day. Check them out with a few simple steps.

If they don't have a physical address listed online, that's a red flag right off the bat. If they do, search corporate records in that state. See how long they've actually been around. See if they are doing business as a different name than their legal name.

Then search "DBA" (doing business as) names, "Fictitious" business names and their legal name through Google. Look for comments made by people online via blogs, newsgroups, and sites such as the the Better Business Bureau ,, Yelp, and other consumer review sites.

If the corporate records list the principals of the companies, search them through the same means but go a step further. Run their names through any criminal record and civil litigation searches available in the states they do business in.

Be proactive not reactive, it will save you a lot of misery!


Malice Blackheart said...

This is great for businesses that are large enough for people to have heard of, but what does one do about those really small businesses that have been around for years, but still seems to be totally invisible? I did contract work for a small business for three months and they never paid me a cent. I looked them up on the BBB and they didn’t seem to be there.

Virtualgumshoe said...

Although the Better Business Bureau is a decent source of information, your right, many small businesses aren't going to be found there. One reason for this is that the BBB charges companies to be listed. About 700 bucks will get you the BBB aproved vender seal and they don't actively "vet" the companies they allow to use it. (If anybody from the BBB would like to correct me on this, I'm all ears)
Then, there has to be complaints issued for a record to exist. Most people simply don't take the time to do make a complaint.
If you were ripped off by this company, chances are your not the first. You should be the first however, to call the BBB, write a bad review on sites like and and make it known so when the next guy googles their company name, your review will come up. Trust me, those negative reviews will be seen and will effect their business. I've been hired a number of times to try and get negative reviews removed from the internet, which is no simple task.
Aside from reviews, even small businesses have corporate records which usually list he principals of the company. Use the virtualgumshoe public records directory or another (lessor)directory to find criminal and civil searches in their areas of business. Check every variaton possible. It's not perfect but it's the best free due diligence you can and should do.