One of the most common areas of confusion relating to public records searching has to do with the costs incurred for search requests, particularly those requests that a customer places with a private service company. The fees associated with this type of research are varied and an invoice may use terminology that is unfamiliar to those with infrequent searching needs. Herein, we offer some guidelines for what types of fees you can expect when placing a service request with a service company.
Due diligence service companies are for-profit businesses who employ public records experts to assist you in navigating the complex world of public records. When you utilize a service company to fulfill your search request, there will be a charge for their services. Typically, a service company will charge for their services on a per name, per jurisdiction basis. This means that every individual service they perform will carry a separate charge.
Correspondent or Vendor Charges
With 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and over 3000 counties in the United States, no service company can physically visit every filing office in the country to perform your service request personally. In areas where a service provider doesn’t have a physical presence, they will enlist a local vendor to complete your service request. The local vendor will charge for their services, and your service provider will pass those fees along to you as a correspondent or vendor charge.
Jurisdictional or Statutory Fees
Public records must be available to the general populace, but there is no rule that states the records must be available free of charge. In some cases, a service company may need to advance funds on your behalf to the filing office where the search is performed; a certified search is a good example of this type of occasion. A jurisdictional fee, sometimes referred to as a statutory fee, is an out of pocket expense that your service provider has already paid directly to a filing office in order to complete your service request, and is an example of another pass along fee you may incur.
A search company’s service fee is the cost for them to complete the required research and generate a report of their findings. If you need to view copies of the items that the search effort uncovered, your service provider will need to obtain copies and you can expect to incur a copy cost. Most service companies charge for copies on a per page basis; be mindful that copy costs can add up quickly.