Help, Support and FAQ: Requesting Lookups

Not finding lookups offered in the localities you're interested in? Wondering what our provider ratings mean or how our fee structure works? We answer some common questions about our lookup ordering process below.

I can't find the lookups I want. Why is that and what can I do about it?

In some states, due to privacy restrictions imposed by local governments, certain records may only be available to direct descendants who can prove their relationship to the individual for whom a record is requested. In such cases, it may not be possible for a lookup provider to obtain the record for you.


In most localities, however, if we don’t offer a lookup, it’s because we haven’t yet found a provider to offer it. We’re working hard to expand our provider network, and we’re determined to find researchers who can get you the records you need. To help us do this, you can:


  1. Submit a custom lookup request. Our providers will be notified and may submit quotes on your request.
  2. Suggest a potential provider to us [e-mail us at providers(at)genlighten(dot)com] or encourage them to sign up as providers themselves.

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How can I learn more about the provider's qualifications before ordering a lookup?

Just click on the provider's username to view their profile page. There you'll be able to see the provider's research specialties, a brief biographical sketch, and any noteworthy coursework, certifications or memberships they've chosen to list. You can also look over the feedback they've received from previous clients.


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Do you pre-screen your providers in some fashion or verify the credentials they claim?

We do not perform a formal background check on our providers before they are able to offer lookups. However, we do review and attempt to verify professional credentials and memberships listed by our providers on their profile pages. We also closely monitor the feedback they receive from clients. We will warn and eventually remove from the site providers who violate our terms of use or whose performance does not meet generally-accepted standards of professional conduct.


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The provider offering the lookup I want has no rating. How can I know they’re reliable?

We work hard to recruit well-qualified providers: people who understand that their ability to earn income through our site will be determined by the reputation they earn for timely, friendly, reliable service. As a quality-control measure, Genlighten staff will occasionally act in a "mystery shopper" role and order lookups from our newest providers in order to assess their responsiveness and accuracy.


But the truth is that it’s not practical for us to thoroughly pre-screen every provider. As a result, you can’t be sure how our providers will perform until you’ve experienced their service for yourself.


Requesting a lookup from a new provider with no previous feedback represents a risk. You can minimize this risk by limiting your initial purchase to a single, well-defined, moderately-priced request. You can also look on the provider's profile to see if they're a member of the Association for Professional Genealogists (APG) or a genealogical accreditation body such as the Board for Certification of Genealogy Professionals (BCG). Members of these organizations have committed to subscribe to a professional code of ethics and have had their performance reviewed by leaders in the field.


If you aren't satisfied with the provider's performance, and can't resolve your concern with them directly, you can contact us at support(at)genlighten(dot)com and we'll work to find a solution for you.


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Can I sort the lookup search results by record type or rating?

This capability is not yet implemented, but should be operational soon.


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How are the provider's ratings determined?

A provider's rating represents a weighted combination of the feedback scores (0-5 stars) they've received from clients, the number of requests they've completed, and several additional factors that attempt to account for the relative difficulty of the lookups they offer.


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What are the "Document Found" and "Not Found" fees for?

Our lookup providers are committed to performing a thorough search for the documents you've requested based on their experience and expertise. But at times, even the most diligent effort will not be able to produce the record in question. For example, a death record might have been misfiled and thus not appear on the microfilm pointed to by an index entry. The "Found" and "Not Found" fees recognize this reality of the research process.


If the provider finds your document as expected, you will be charged the "Document Found" fee they've set for the lookup. If their search is unsuccessful, you'll be billed the "Not Found" fee instead. In such cases, the provider will upload a "Not Found" report summarizing their search process for your reference. We encourage our providers to set the "Not Found" fee significantly below the "Document Found" fee, but the actual prices are left to our providers' discretion. If you're wondering what a provider's fees for a particular lookup will cover, you can use the "Ask the Provider a Question" utility to request clarifying details directly from them.


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I don't understand the provider's instructions. How can I get additional guidance in filling out the "My Lookup Request" field?

You can get help directly from the provider via the "Ask the Provider a Question" feature. Simply enter your question into the box on the middle-right-hand portion of the Lookup Detail page. The provider will be notified of your question and will reply as soon as they can, usually within a day or two.


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How does the "Ask the provider a question" process work?

When you submit a question to a provider regarding a specific lookup, they're notified either by email or via an alert posted in their lookup feed. When they post a reply to your question, you'll receive a lookup feed notification and/or an email containing their answer, depending on the notification preferences you've set on the Settings page. Note that in some cases, it may take several days for the provider to respond to your question.


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When will the documents I requested be delivered?

Our providers work hard to meet the turnaround time they specify in their lookup description. Most will also post notes on the Status Detail/Document Delivery page for your lookup keeping you advised of their progress. You can post your own note to the provider if you'd like an update on your lookup's ETA.


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