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INVESTIGATIVE/BACKGROUNDING

Last Update: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003

Note: Most of the investigative and public records sites have an annual or one-time search fee. Pages will launch into a new browser.

Related Toolbox Pages: Public Records General Research Federal Government Business Crime Form 990s


Recent Additions to This Section
(This section features sites added to the page in the last few weeks.
Each link is cross-referenced on the page in its proper category.)

Justice Department FOIA Guide
Good for anticipating the other side's arguments and interpretation of case history, especially when you are appealing a denial.

Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2002
A guide for working through the FOIA/open government process. It is published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

IRE: FOIA Resources


Investigator's Guide to Info. Sources
GAO site explains types of records kept by local/state governments, links to federal agencies, businesses, directories, investigation databases.

Social Security Death Records

U.S. Department of Justice: Understanding DNA Evidence
Online version of the handbook.

Public Records Online
Search state-by-state criminal records, real estate information and more.

BRB Public Records online.
A huge sites with links to free and pay public records sites.

Searchsystems.net
Links to almost 5,000 public records databases. Claims to be the largest free collection of public records databases on the Web. Formerly the PAC-Info. site, just click on a state and you'll get a list of all free public record collections for that state. Most include incorporation filings.

National Association of Secretaries of State: Corporate Backgrounders
The site offers many resources on business research.

Public-Information.com
This site charges a fee. Search state/local criminal, DMV, prison records and more.

Center for Investigative Reporting

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Resource Center
Story samples, tip sheets and more.

Investigative Desktop
Investigative Reporters and Editors links page for investigative journalists.

Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

Student Press Law Center: FOIA Letter Generator
Just fill in the blanks.

The Innocence Project
A searchable database of states offering projects to free wrongfully accused prisoners through DNA and other evidence. Run by the Cardozo School of Law in NYC.

AJR: Online Publishing and Investigative Journalism
Salon.com's coverage of Ken Starr and the Clinton impeachment hearings.

Sam Spade Tools
Online investigative resources.

Terrorism Research Center
Resources and research including comprehensive listing of links to terrorism-related Web pages including profiles of individual terrorist groups compiled by the U.S. Navy's Dudley Knox Library.

Child Abduction Site
Several helpful research tools if you're covering this topic and a wealth of media contact information.

Discreet Research Inc.
Another pay site that search criminal, DMV and other records.

Criminal-Records.com
Search federal court, divorce court, marriage licenses, military records and more.

Department of Justice Federal Records Guide

Truth in Justice
A private investigations site with several recent case studies, news stories, trend pieces, related links, a discussion forum and more. A great resource.

Knowx.com
Comprehensive searches for public records. You must register to use the site.

Publicdata.com

Dataquick.com
Real property info. center.

CDB Infotek
Public records info. company.

Black Book Online
Research site used by private investigators.

Suite101.com

Acc-u-data
A for-profit searching organization that claims access to 41 public record databases that they will search for a fee.

The Smoking Gun
This is a good FOIA site that claims to find documents that can't be found elsewhere on the Web. Its material is gleaned from government documents, court files, etc.

Opensecrets.org
A fantastic site for researching campaign finance statistics.

Votenet.com
A fantastic site for researching campaign financing statistics.

CampaignFinance.org

CampaignFinance.org FOI
Includes campaign finance research and a clearinghouse of key FOIA sites.

U.S. Search Background Information

Dateline NBC Archives
A listing of its top recent stories.

Federal Election Commission Reports
Searches by political contributor's name, occupation, employer, zip code.

50 States Online Project
The Center for Public Integrity?s 50States Project is an independent investigation of the conduct of legislators in every state in the union. It says it "examines the workings of state legislatures -- uncovering abuses of the public?s trust."

Docusearch.com
This site claims to be "the place to find, locate & track down anybody! We offer locate searches, DMV driver & vehicle searches, telephone record searches, financial and bank searches, criminal and property records. Some searches are free, others you must pay for.

ActivistCash.com
A great site. Roots out the funding sources of the most notorious anti-consumer groups. It continually adds profiles on the first of every month.

Medicare Nursing Home Finder
Can be helpful in investigating nursing homes in your area as it includes information on recent inspections, number of beds, etc.

GAO's Congressional Investigations
Track investigations through the General Accounting Office.

Lobbyist Database
Opensecrets.org, part of the Center for Reponsive Politics, has a database of registered lobbyists. Also tracks spending in particular sectors of lobbyists.

CNBC on MSN Money: Insider Trading
Lists the companies that have had the most insider trading -- transactions by corporate insiders or major shareholders -- in the past 30 days. You can then click on the company symbols to find out which individuals have been trading and how much they've bought or sold.

Special Interest Groups List
Opensecrets.org, part of the Center for Reponsive Politics, has downloadable lists of special-interest groups.

Government Audits
State inspector general's offices that audit federal programs that the agency oversees.

TRAY.com
A good site for FEC and PAC data.

Social Security Death Records

Securities & Exchange Commission

Suspicious Net Banks
The FDIC has launched a Suspicious Internet Banking site that lets you see if an institution has a legitimate charter. You can also report suspicious activities online.

SNAP: Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

SNAP: Investigating Abuse by Priests
Tips for the media.

Strategic Research Investigative Services
Specializes in discrete, sophisticated, and cost-effective fact-finding for law firms, corporations, governments, news organizations and individuals.

Investigative Resources on the Web (WebGater)
Links to motor vehicle departments, missing persons bureaus, vital records, medical examiner records.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Finding, Tracing and Investigating People
Links to a few dozen sites, including tipsheets on finding people.

SPJ's Prison/Prisoners Access Tip Sheet
A guide on gaining access using FOIAs.

FOI Advocate
The University of Missouri's newsletter on using the Freedom of Information Act.

Cemetery Records Online
Maintains records from 4,307 cemeteries both nationwide and abroad. The site regularly updates users on which cemeteries have been added to their database.

Docusearch

Vital Records Online
An extensive list of adoption resources.

ACLU's Using The Freedom of Information Act: a Step-by-Step Guide
A primer on the Freedom of Information Act, including how to access agency records and how to make a FOIA request.

20/20
Text from past editions of the ABC news magazine show.

Nightline
Companion site to ABC's late-night news magazine show, hosted by Ted Koppel.

48 Hours
Companion site of the CBS news magazine show.

60 Minutes
Companion site of the CBS news magazine show.

Dateline NBC
Scripts, background and other resources from the NBC investigative magazine show.

Justice Department FOIA Guide
Good for anticipating the other side's arguments and interpretation of case history, especially when you are appealing a denial.

Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2002
A guide for working through the FOIA/open government process. It is published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

IRE: FOIA Resources

Related Toolbox Pages: Public Records General Research Federal Government Business Crime Form 990s


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