Sept. 5, 2012 –Searching for background on a person on the Internet floods you with results from various websites that want you to pay a considerable amount for a report that may not have much information. Accurint, Merlin, Intelius, KnowX, SmartLinx on Lexis, and PeopleSearch on Westlaw are databases you can use to search for people that are even pricier. TLO® online investigative systems, launched in 2011, only recently began marketing to lawyers and allows you to search for a buck.
TLO, which stands for “The Last One,” is the creation of Hank Asher. He is a pioneer in the field of investigative data tools. He was the founder of Accurint, now a Lexis product. He offers TLO free to law enforcement agencies but limits access to TLO to certain professionals not the general public.
Secure and Economical Searching
TLO is available to any lawyer, paralegal, or legal librarian in addition to private investigators, collection agencies, business development executives, and other professionals. You can sign up for a 15-day free trial, but to subscribe you have to go through their authentication process. Once you subscribe you only pay for what you use, there are no monthly or annual fees or hidden charges. They have good security for access. You enter your login and password and are then sent a PIN number to use for the session via email. This prevents others from using your access.
The general pricing schedule shows that you can do a person search for one dollar and a comprehensive report that will never cost you more than $5. You can also search the deceased persons and 411 phone databases at no charge.
Don’t Like the Result? No Charge
Even beyond the great pricing, TLO is easy to use and has trillions of historical and current records linking people, businesses, and assets. Remember, not everything is available online. The availability of data varies from state to state, and there is no truly comprehensive report on anyone. If you don’t like a search result you can press the “unhappy” button and won’t be charged. Live customer service specialists are available 24/7 and online training and search tips and videos are also offered. TLO will ask you for the reason you are searching so that no Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) or Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) laws are violated. No bank records are available.
Searching Can Be Done in a Variety of Ways
The home page shows five broad categories: People, Business Plus, Criminal Records, Courts, and Assets. Each of these is broken down further. The People advanced search menu allows you to put in any combination of name, first, last, middle, and even only a first name in combination with another criteria. Other fields include address, phone, driver’s license number, Social Security number either full or partial, date of birth or age range, IP address and domain name. The domain name search can help lawyers identify former and current employees of a company who may be needed as witnesses.
The Expert Plus search gives you the ability to craft a search with only bits of information. For example, you are looking for a missing heir and your only hints are a maiden name, approximate age and you know she once lived in New Jersey and may now be somewhere in northern California. You can search for the name, add the states and age range, and TLO will make the connections for you. The search is $1. Getting a full report on any of the individual results is $5.
Bits and pieces of information also can be entered into the other search categories. The Assets category helps you search for car registrations, driver’s license data (if available), property deeds, assessor records, and mortgages. You can use a wildcard to enter partial information in all searches including a partial license plate number to find a car. Judgments, liens, evictions, and bankruptcies are included in the Courts Search. The Unified Criminals Search lets you search for criminal, sex offender, arrest, and warrant records. Remember, not everything is available online.
The Business Report potentially includes subsidiaries, officers, directors, employees, liens, judgments, UCC filings, bankruptcies, vehicles, planes, foreclosures, and evictions. The Super Phone Report helps locate mailing and email addresses, personal and work phone numbers.
Even though TLO is the new kid on the block in terms of public records, searching it is definitely worth a look. What do you have to lose? A buck?
About the Author
Carol Bannen is the director of Information Resources for Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C., Milwaukee. Bannen is responsible for the firm’s research, records, and knowledge management operations. She formerly served as the firm’s head librarian.