How to Determine Who Owns a Business or Corporation

There are several ways to find information about ownership if a particular business. It doesn't really matter whether the business is a large corporation or a small mom and pop establishment, somewhere out there is information on who owns the business.

To find an owner, start by checking out the corporate records. A search by state can be done at Free Public Records Corporation Search. These records are available online through the Office of the Secretary of State for free in most states. Each Secretary of State holds the records on corporations for that particular state. Searches can be done by business name, business number, officer/agent, incorporator, month or year and date of the paperwork filed.

The results can bring back the name of the owner, date the business was started, the physical address of the business, formation; it might include officer's names and the agent who processed the paperwork; All very valuable information for finding business owners.

Another way to find information is to search the local licensing agency within the state where the business operates. Many types of businesses must have a license before they can open there doors. Each state has an office that handles business license filings; there are several search engines that can be used to find this information. The best place to start is the Department of Consumer Affairs for the state the business is located in.

A search through the state licensing search engine will bring back the name of the licensee, or business name, type of license, license number, license status meaning whether or not it is still active, expiration date, issue date, address of record and any disciplinary actions or license restrictions.

Other options for finding business ownership are contacting the business directly with a phone call. At times an employee might not know who the owner is or might give out the wrong information, so it is a good idea to double check the information.

Also, many companies have a web site, although many small businesses cannot afford one but larger corporations do have there own web sites. Many times there will be a page About Us, or Corporate Information something like that these pages sometimes list the business owner's name. Other times pages will have small bios about each board member, CEO/CFO, President and Vice President. At times the site even might include a history of the company, which if old can include great information about the original owners or families of the company.

Another means to check on business ownership is to contact the Better Business Bureau. Searches can be done by business name, city, or state. There are more advanced searches by phone number, reverse phone number lookup, URL, email and type of business. Not all businesses are listed so there may be no results for a business. At times, the business will be filed under "corporate name" and a search under that name will net results.

The good news is finding information on business ownership is free with the help of the web, and with a little time and effort can get big results.

Susan Hiland
Professional Journalist
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