How news sources verify one's age

Wikipedia, the news or whatever always seem to state the age of the person in question. Where do they get this information? Is it available to everyone? Do the ask the subject?

I know there is a bunch of Private Investigation tools on the Internet but where do they get their sources from?

For the most part, you ask the person when you interview them. Depending on the story, sometimes there’s a date of birth listed on some kind of record you have access to. If you don’t have reason to distrust the source, to my knowledge, it’s not a piece of information that’s usually double-checked, as it’s usually not vital to the story. If it IS vital to the story (e.g. Danny Almonte), then it would be double-checked – asking multiple people, checking government records, etc.

In most states birth certificates are public records. In California, at least, your mother’s maiden name is on the publically available part which makes me :smack: when banks and such use it as a password recovery question.

Well in Pennsylvania, not anyone can request a birth certificate.

Eligible Requestors

* Person named on the birth record

* Legal representative

* Immediate family members (husband; wife; parent/step-parent; brother/sister/half brother/half sister; son or daughter; stepson/stepdaughter; grandparent/great grandparent; grandchild/great grandchild). If the person named on the birth record is deceased, all other family members must submit a copy of the his/her death certificate to be eligible to receive the birth record.  A common-law spouse, step-parent, or step-child is required to submit additional documentation supporting their relationship.

How would one civilian go about verifies someone else’s age?

You ask for them to present proof of age, and if they decide to comply, examine it and use common sense to decide whether to believe it or not.

Wikipedia has an entry for me. I didn’t write it, but it includes my date of birth. I’ve always found that curious, because I don’t recall anyone ever asking me, and it doesn’t appear in any of my books. I just assumed that somebody grabbed it out of a public database.

Your public Amazon wishlist has your birthday but not your birth year. This is far as I got in 5 minutes of looking online, and until 5 minutes ago I wasn’t aware of your existence. I’m sure somebody who’s read your books and columns could with a certain degree of certainty determine your birth year (for example if you mention you were <this old> when <this sporting event> occurred).

What public database? Does everyone has access to this?

I got the birth year through Zabasearch. From start to finish, it took me about 6 minutes to find all the same info.

If you want to know the age of any adult in my town, the annual census and voter registration info is published every year.

The book is available in late spring at the Town Clerk’s office for a nominal fee. It’s organized by streets within the town’s voting precints and there’s an alphabetical index. It lists residents’ names, street addresses, occupations, dates of birth and whether or not they’re registered to vote.

Some years the DOB is simply the year of birth, other years it’s the full DOB.

Try something like for a few minutes and you can locate friend and coworkers pretty easily is a teaser for a fast background check that gives the amount of info you are willing to pay for. An older relative got me to do one on a perspective tenant for nationwide crimminal history and I knew quite a bit about the guy I never met in a few minutes (he came up clean though).

There are others too. Many states including mine give the last selling price of homes by address which many new buyers find a little intrusive. Many of those are on-line. I was more marveled what deals my neighbors had because we bought in 2001 when everything was well on the upswing. Others probably feel the same way about us now.

Every Saturday in its real estate section, the New Bedford, MA, Standard-Times, publishes all of the real estate transactions in the area by town. It lists the street address, the seller, the buyer and the price. They get the info from the county Registry of Deeds.

Speaking to the OP, and interpolating, my answer is, generally, they don’t.

Back pre-2006, I was a VERY frequent flyer, and I didn’t have too many, but at least 6-8 interviews (via phone in all cases) up to and including the Wall Street Journal.

My age was never a question, but from what all the various news media got wrong, from A to Z (never mind misspelling my name, I give them all a pass on that), I would be shocked if they verified any dang thing.


Should one be worried if they have someone living at my old address with a wrong birthdate? By wrong birthdate they have me listed as being 15 years older and the wrong month. It also has me listed as living in places I’ve never even come close to living. So either they’ve made a huge mistake, or someone moved into my house, with my ex, with my same name.

Since you asked about news sources specifically, the Associated Press has a person in Washington who finds the information and maintains the database. This, BTW, is the same information your local paper/radio/TV station uses in their “Today’s Birthdays” column. I interviewed this person this spring, so if I have the time, I’ll dig it up and see what she says.

But, to be fair, much of what Garfield226 said is true. Unless the age is relevant to the story, some media outlets don’t even bother. Reporters have better things to do with their time than to chase down irrelevant information at all, much less verify it.


That makes sense. That zaba uses utility records and court records. I am still interested in this “database”.