Researching a Company

There are several publicly accessible “deep web” databases with records on U.S. companies. The records are especially interesting because, by nature of being deep web databases, one cannot find these records in these databases by simply googling for them. Furthermore, the records are usually verified, legitimate information, which is of course not always true of things on the Internet.

Company Registration

US companies register with the state government and this registration is most easily discovered by using Open Corporates . The individual states maintain deep web databases that are full of company registrations. To avoid the trouble of finding all of the databases, you can use Open Corporates. This site allows one to search the name of a person or a company and then Open Corporates searches the various state registries at a once. Open Corporates also searches for other registrations, including trademarks.

Side Note for Foreign Companies: For foreign companies, many countries’ registries will be included in Open Corporates. But for countries that are not included in Open Corporates, you can use the Global Open Data Index to find out if the country has a public registry and if so, it will give you an idea where to look. The Index is dated to 2015, but it can tell you that the registry is located, for example, in the Interior Ministry website under the tax section.

Publicly Traded Companies (in the US or abroad)

Publicly traded companies must file additional records on a regular basis. This is topic too extensive for this post, but the basic information is that the US Securities and Exchange Commission maintains a public database called EDGAR (the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system).

Side Note for Foreign Companies: There is a website where you can look up the Securities Commission for foreign counties. Go to the International Organization of Securities Commissions and look up their members (there are several different types of members (ordinary, associate, affiliate) to look up.

If one is interested in a publicly traded company/corporation, you can start by searching for its name in EDGAR and looking at the most recent document titled “Annual Review.”

This document includes several pages of information largely in financial-speak, but for the amateurs it includes names and senior company officials and recent company developments such as court cases.

Past Illegal Activity

A good way to evaluate a company is to see if it has conducted any actions violating laws or regulations. The Violations Tracker is a single source that queries a plethora of US government databases identifying companies that violated local or national regulations.

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