This is how to background check your date for free in the Houston area

HOUSTON – The dating world is rough, y'all, but there are ways to make sure the person you're going out with has a good-looking record to match that smile you see on a dating app.

Each county in our area has a system set up to check records. While some counties have criminal, civil, family, probate case records and jail records available, other counties have more limited records available. Each set of results could help you build a more complete picture of that person beyond the smile on an app. 

Harris County
Use this link to search a person's name. You can search using the person's last name and first name or just the last name. 

Fort Bend County
Fort Bend, like several other Texas counties, uses a similar format for these types of searches. On a welcome page, visitors can search what records he or she would like to utilize. In this case, probate case records, civil and family case records, criminal case records and court calendar are available to peruse. You can search at each link and input only the person's last name or last name and first name.

Brazoria County
Using a similar system as Fort Bend County, Brazoria County has criminal records, as well as civil, family and probate case records. Using this tool, you can find out if someone has a criminal background or issues with family, business or some other dispute.  

Galveston County
Search via the Civil Division, Family Division and Criminal Division links on the left-hand side of the page. Each division is constructed the same way: You reach a records search page and then click on "Proceed to Access Files" for each database. From there, you can enter a person's last name or last and first name and receive a listing of results.

Liberty County
To use this page, search on the Online Public Records page. You must create an account to use this page. For a large data set, you can search using the docket option, and then by last name only or search both last and first name. 

Chambers County
Use this page to search by record number or name. This search also includes advanced filtering options, such as cases, judgments and protection orders. However, if you're looking for a larger set of results, search by last name.

Waller County
To search on Waller County's page, register as a user here. Once registered, select Waller County from the list. You can search by last name for mentions in documents.

Montgomery County
Using this system, you can search criminal, civil and probate case records. You can also search here: for more information concerning property, marriage, foreclosure and more. 

Matagorda County
Matagorda County has several options available on its page. You can search criminal, civil, family and probate cases, as well as jail and jail bond records all in one place, as well as incident records from local law enforcement. From what we've researched, this is one of the most comprehensive, one-stop-shops among counties in southeast Texas.

Wharton County
KPRC 2 searched online for available records with Wharton County, but a call to the clerk's office was the most helpful for a free option. An office worker told us that to search for free, people can visit their office and use their computers "in the back" for this type of information. Call 979-532-2381 for more information. To search with a fee, the office worker suggested using for a fee

Austin County
Like many other counties, Austin County has a menu of probate, civil, family and criminal case records available here. 

We want to also remind you that there are a few things you might want to keep in mind before using these search tools: 

  • Records can be limited. People can use aliases online or use false names. Don't use the information he or she is sharing with you or the information you find in the databases below be the only things you rely on.
  • Be sure to use common sense. If someone is not sharing their last name with you or are withholding important information about themselves, that could be a red flag.
  • Don't be afraid to ask more questions if you're unsure about someone. 
  • Meet in public places, and let multiple people know where you are and what you're doing before you go out with someone. 

With all that in mind, be sure to let us know what worked -- and what didn't -- in the comments below. 

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.