Deal or No Deal: Public Record Searches Could Be a Bad Deal Published July 24, 2014

Let’s make a deal.

You pay me to go knocking on the door of each and every county clerk and recorder in the country to screen your client for liens and judgments. That’s 3,144 doors, one by one. I’ll charge you a fee for every visit. That’s 3,144 fees. (Thank you).

When I’m done, I’ll let you know whether there are any tax liens filed against your client in any of those counties. What I mean is, I’ll let you know if any liens bear the name that you gave me, the way that your client spelled it. You’ll have to understand that if there is any mistake in the client’s name I cannot ultimately be responsible for that. In fact, if we discover a mistake, I’ll need to double-check every county. That’s double the fees too, you’ll understand. (Thanks again).

Also you’ll need to know I’ll be getting the same information that is already available directly to you, publicly, and free of charge. And there’s one more thing–you should know that I will NOT be able to tell you whether your client has missing tax deposits, missing tax returns, a tax liability that is not yet secured by a tax lien, or whether the IRS is legally in a position to levy them yesterday. Deal? If you just muttered “no deal,” you’ve begun to see some of the flaws in public records search for due diligence screening of clients.

Tax Guard does not rely on any public records searches for information.
Public records are, as the name suggests, public, and for the most part, they’re free. The only value in having public, free data provided to you is any time saved in obtaining it. But consider what it’s worth- Is it accurate? Is it up do date?

In every instance, information obtained via public records search is information after the fact, and while it may alert a lender to the presence of a tax lien, it does nothing to help a lender quantify risk in what has become far more important terms: upstream, pre-tax lien liability, missed deposits, unfiled tax returns, and whether the IRS can levy or not.

These are the factors material to quantifying risk to commercial lenders, and these are the tools Tax Guard uses to quantify a Tax Risk Score. Better still–the Tax Guard report is available on-demand because we don’t go knocking on doors. You get one report, for one fee, based on information straight from the IRS. And unlike public records searches, we aren’t obtaining the information from the IRS to play name association–the Tax Guard reporting process is identification number-driven, not name-based, and auto-corrects for alter egos and name misspellings. You don’t have to worry if you’ve checked the right county, and you don’t have to worry if the name is accurate- we’ve got it covered eliminating all ifs and maybes.


Posted By: David Bohrman

As the VP of Marketing, David is responsible for driving overall marketing strategy for Tax Guard including brand positioning, go-to-market execution, and lead generation programs. For the past 15 years, David has held senior positions in early growth and mature companies, leading marketing, operations, and business development teams. Prior to Tax Guard, David was the Director of Marketing of one of the largest tax consulting firms in the country. He holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from the University of Vermont.