A growing number of state filing offices are offering UCC search databases at low to no cost via their websites. In an effort to keep due diligence costs low, many searchers are turning to state direct online databases to fulfill their UCC search requirements.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of these state direct databases – free searches: sounds great, right? When examined closely however, many of these state sites have limited utility due to some serious system limitations.
Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating if a particular state direct search site is the right choice for your firm:
What Lien Types are available on the Index?
Numerous states maintain Tax Lien records (Federal and/or State) in addition to UCC data. However, these lien types may or may not be available to the searching public via the state’s online database. Some states even have a separate online index that requires a second search to locate Tax Liens. To avoid any surprise liens, remember to research what lien types will be included in your results when using a state direct database.
Does the state direct database provide an index date?
Many states that offer an online UCC index do not publish their index date (aka through date) on the website to inform searchers of how current the online data is. Outdated lien information can impede a searcher’s ability to determine current filing status, accurate party names and priority of claims.
Are document images available online?
While a search report can deliver several pieces of critical information, it is usually necessary to view an image of the filed document to see what collateral a given Financing Statement covers. State direct databases that do not offer images online are only providing a piece of the puzzle.
What is the Search Logic?
Before using any state direct online search system, it is essential to have an in depth understanding of the type of search logic it employs. For example, does the state site allow for the entry of truncated search strings? Does the system report similar names? These features allow searchers to reveal name variations and uncover filings that may have been mis-indexed.
Keeping track of the ins and outs of the various state direct search sites can be a daunting task. Try using a proprietary search system to streamline your search process. Privately maintained and operated, these systems offer consistent search logic, easy to read results and a support staff to provide training and ongoing support.