XooxleAnswers’ Top Ten Business Research Tools

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#8
State Corporate Filings

UCC, Liens, and Incorporations from State Government Public Records


When a business incorporates, it files its incorporation papers with a state government (often Delaware or Nevada, though all state’s provide this service). These files become part of the public record.

Similarly, companies involved with a secured loan, or a lien on property, also creates an electronic “paper trail” that is part of the public record. Most states handle these sorts of filings under what is know as the Uniform Commercial Code or more familiarly, UCC. But I’ll just call them “public records” for simplicity’s sake.

Companies like Lexis-Nexis can provide access to public records, for a substantial fee, of course. But why not go right to the source? A Google search on a state of your choice, along with “Corporations” will usually pull up a link in the top results to the public records page for that state. Or you can bookmark one of several lists of links to Secretaries of State websites, where you can access UCC, liens, corporation filings, and other public records.

Each state is a little different. Searching is usually online and free, and for many states, so is record retrieval. A diligent search can turn up company and personal debts, outstanding legal problems, who’s who in the executive boardroom, name changes, mergers, company history, and ownership interests in the company.

I particularly like Arizona’s public records site. Here’s a link to corporate records for U-Haul, headquarterd in Phoenix, which includes more than ten years of scanned annual reports and other records available online.

Plumbing the depths of state public records is not easy, but it can be a gold mine of information, which is why we’ve ranked them as #8 on XooxleAnswers’ list of Top Ten Business Research Tools for 2012

 

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