Best Practices

Certification: Benefits and Limitations

A state certified UCC search has its utility. In order to confirm that you’ve filed under the correct individual or entity name, it is important to run a certified search-to-reflect, using the state’s standard search logic, to ensure that your filing appears within the results of the search. If it does not, it’s important to address the issue with the clerk’s office (if the error is of an indexing nature) or through amendment (if the error was made by the filer). Here, however, is where the benefits of a certified search might end.

Oftentimes, state certified logic is very strict – offering limited results based on findings that are close to (if not identical to) the search string entered. If you are utilizing certified results for your due diligence searching, you might be doing yourself (and your client) a disservice. A wildcard, due diligence, or broad-form search enables the searcher to cast a wide net and find more results. This searcher may be able to uncover similar names or misspellings of the correct name. More importantly, a searcher hunting with a broad-form search tool may be able to find hidden but effective UCC liens that are mis-indexed as well as hidden but effective Federal Tax liens filed by the IRS under truncated versions of the correct name.

Searchers often have a sense of false comfort when they see a seal of certification. There is certainly no guarantee that certified results are correct. The certified statement provided by the clerk’s office typically attests to the mere fact that a search string was entered into the state database on a certain day at a certain time and provided the following results set. This in no way guarantees the accuracy of the results. Beyond the commonly seen mis-indexings that may fail to reflect, programming changes made to the state database may generate results that are contrary to the state’s own published search logic. A filer who did their job correctly and filed under the correct name is safe, notwithstanding a state database glitch resulting in an incomplete, certified search report.

Use all of the tools in your search arsenal to ensure you are giving yourself the very best opportunity to find any and all activity related to your debtor. Some extra hunting during the due diligence process can stave off a bankruptcy proceeding surprise – and a major headache.