Merlin is the last of the pay investigative
research databases we're aware of that will give access
to full Social Security numbers to attorneys.
Our View: Merlin has long been the private investigator's
database of choice for investigative searching,
but for some unknown reason it remains
largely unknown in the legal community. Legal
professionals typically use Lexis, Westlaw, ChoicePoint, KnowX, or Accurint to locate similar
information. We think Merlin is worth a shot
because it doesn't require an expensive monthly
subscription fee. You do have to fill out a detailed
seven-page application (as you do with the other
investigative databases) and make an initial
deposit of $100 to open a debit account. Once
your account is approved, Merlin will deduct
$10 per month as a minimum usage fee (if you
perform any searches in a month, the minimum
usage is applied to the fees of those searches).
Another reason Merlin is worth considering, is
that Merlin is the last of the pay investigative
research databases we're aware of that will
give access to full Social Security numbers
to attorneys. However, this access requires
lawyers to submit to an on-site office visit by
a Merlin representative and incur a one-time
$100 charge for the visit to insure that you fall
within the Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Fair Credit
Reporting Acts' permitted uses for accessing
Social Security number information.
Each time you use Merlin, you must
select a permitted use for the search.
(After its purchase by LexisNexis,
Accurint began to restrict Social
Security number access only to
attorneys whose practice is strictly
in collections. Some attorneys report
they still have access to full Social Security numbers if their Accurint account pre-dates the
We also like that Merlin allows you to sort the columns in your results page to create a
Tip: Merlin has some proprietary databases that other pay services may not have (especially for
California). For instance, California Marriage Records from 1960 –1985 are online at Merlin—
records that the State of California no longer sells. Another unique database is its Western
States Evictions database, covering evictions in all counties in California, Nevada, Oregon, and
Washington. Merlin has also created a National Fictitious Business Name search with over 10
million records—saving you the time of a county-by-county search in each state.
Readers of this newsletter can receive (via e-mail) a free trial certificate to the Merlin database
with the phrase
"Merlin Free Trial" in the subject line.
Directions for redeeming the trial will be included on the PDF of the certificate you receive via