Media Researcher Helps Readers Avoid Being ‘Bamboozled’

“Brakes squeaking or grinding? We can help!”

“Want to lose weight fast? We’ll show you how.”

“Charged with a criminal offense? Consult one of our top-ranked attorneys.”

If you’ve spent time on the Web, you’ve seen these and other come-ons for services as varied as lawn care, bankruptcy relief, and life insurance. But how do you know if they’re legitimate? How can you find out whether the advertisers in question have had lawsuits filed or judgments rendered against them? How do you know if they’re licensed or registered (or whether they need to be)? And how much can you learn about them for free, or at little cost?

Vinessa Erminio

If you live in New Jersey, you can follow’s “Bamboozled” column, which advises readers how to avoid being taken by scams and swindles and the people and businesses who perpetrate them. Earlier this month, “Bamboozled” took a cue from two of its readers and asked an expert researcher how to search free and low-cost public records. The expert researcher was none other than SLA member Vinessa Erminio, research editor at NJ Advance Media, which supplies content to

“Our readers are always asking what’s out there that they can research themselves, so the business columnist and I put our heads together and came up with this,” Vinessa said. “It’s geared toward New Jersey residents with no experience in public records searching, so I focused on databases provided by the state, rather than professional research tools.”

To read the column, click here.

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