I wrote in March 2005 about the public-records search engine Pretrieve. A major appeal of the site was that it was free. Go to Pretrieve today and the front page still describes the service as free — even highlighting the word free in red type — but it lies. Enter a query and you are rerouted to the paid search service Intelius, where it will cost you a minimum of $7.95 to see results. As far as I can tell, this change just took place within the past couple weeks. Sorry to see the demise of this useful free resource.

  • This is disappointing, and we have seen it before. A site comes along offering useful search information. After attracting lots of traffic they quietly turn it into a portal for Intelius, US Search, or any of the other retail cookie-cutter “public record” sites.

    Shameless plug: While Legal Dockets Online (http://www.LegalDockets.com) is not free, it’s extremely inexpensive, and in many ways a better research tool than more expensive sites for locating court case information and criminal records. Also, it’s being completely redeveloped (beta release scheduled in the fall) adding new features that information professionals will surely appreciate.

    Disclosure: I created and manage Legal Dockets Online.

  • Hi Robert,

    Thanks for watching this space closely. As you pointed out, Intelius recently acquired Pretrieve.com — just less than two weeks ago. Because this acquisition was so recent, we are still working on implementation of the site, but I wanted to allay a couple of your concerns: the business search is actually totally free today, and as we push forward on implementation of the site, we are looking at including a mix of free and paid people search and research services to help meet the needs of our users, from basic “white pages” type searches to more rich historical or background searches.

    I hope you’ll stay tuned as we further develop this site to meet your needs and demands for both free and premium people search and information services.

  • Anonymous

    Well, that was NICE of you, Intelius, to like, LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING /sarcasm.

    I use the site quite extensively to search for court records. Intelius does not offer that option. Pretrieve was also useful in finding information about people such as whether or not they owned aircraft, the census reports, property values, property owners, etc, etc, LOTS of etc.

    Will you offer ANY of that?

    I’m totally disgusted that you guys just left up the pretrieve page, without saying, “hey, this site has been bought by Intelius, and will NOT EVER be like it was before, so, go do your own googling for whatever court records.” Or whatever. It’s seriously misleading to leave the main page up, with the bright red “free” still there, when it is ANYTHING but free.

    Totally ticked off.

  • Anonymous

    Intelius–What a Shame1
    A very helpful site–GONE.