A Low-Cost Asset Search
Financial investigators, bankruptcy trustees, judgment creditors, etc., sometimes research** the following kinds of records / databases as part of a low-cost asset search:
- Real Estate Searches: Some government databases provide for free real property searches, like New York City’s Automated City Register System (“ACRIS”) at “https://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/jump/acris.shtml”. ACRIS permits one to search for real property owners in New York City by a party’s name, parcel identifiers (such as borough, block and lot numbers), etc.
- Lawsuits: A beneficial owner’s assets held in the form of personal injury or other type of legal claim, (if any), can sometimes be uncovered via court databases.
- Local Courts: Although limited to New York State courts, “eCourts” is a free database at: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivil/ecourtsMain.
- Federal Courts: After signing up for an access code, “PACER” enables one to conduct low-cost searches of federal courts nationwide.
- Corporate & U.C.C. Searches: Free government webpages such as New York’s https://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html sometimes provide beneficial ownership or other useful information about duly licensed businesses/corporations.
- United States Patent & Trademark Office: Patents and trademarks can be researched for free at “https://www.uspto.gov/patft/“.
- Comprehensive Searches: LexisNexis offers “SmartLinx” which is a fee-based service for attorneys, government authorities, etc. that can be used to search domestic public records. Records regarding real property, motor vehicles, telephone numbers, can often be accessed. Yet another comprehensive search service is available at IRB’s website, “https://www.irbsearch.com/“. These services may provide the names of business associates, neighbors, relatives, etc., and can therefore sometimes be used to identify nominees hiding a beneficial owner’s assets.
Researching real estate, lawsuits or other similar records in some cases may uncover assets concealed by a judgment debtor, bankruptcy debtor or divorcing spouse. When conducting such computer-based research, one should however, always consider the red flags or indicia mentioned at “Asset Search Indicia For Divorce, Debt Collection & Bankruptcy”.
**L.L. Jones, Concealing Assets In Bankruptcy: What Are the Consequences And How Do Trustees Find The Assets?, Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Presentation: April 24, 2008).