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Background Checks: The Most Commonly Asked Questions

Everyone’s heard of a background check and most of us have probably had one done on us.  When entering new employment, signing on as a tenant of a new property or applying for credit, the chances are you’ll have to have one. But background checks aren’t exclusive to government agencies or for the purpose of business -- any adult based in the states can do one for reasons that don’t breach the Fair Credit Reporting Agency. 

Despite what the movies might imply about background checks, they’re actually far less mysterious and offer some real-world benefits to the average person. Aside from background checks, anyone looking to get in touch with a lost family member or friend would only really have social media or private investigators at their disposal. With so many decent providers out there now, everyday people can now browse the information they need without multiple trips to municipality buildings and combing through thousands of public-access files. These providers do the work for you, searching through millions of records across numerous online data points, like local, state and federal.

Background checks can be used for multiple reasons, yet not all of us are fully aware of just how accessible they are. They can improve the quality of our lives by giving us the reassurance we might need, and they’re all done discreetly. Everything you need to know about them can be found below.

What Information Can be Found in a Background Check?

The amount of information that can be found in a background check depends entirely on the provider you choose and what sources they collect their data from. A report can contain much more than biographical information like name, age and death certification, but also more intricate information like their address history, ex-partners, education, and job records, as well as social media profiles if the provider offers it. Some providers also offer more extensive premium reports for added cost alongside subscription, but these reports are created with much-wider search criteria. These might include their weapon permits, UCC filings and so on.  

Searching for someone can be done with nothing more than a name, but the more details provided, the more likely you are of finding the right person and getting the most information. Searches can be done using a person’s email address, name, telephone number, and social media profile, and can be done on most adults in the US, including criminals. Criminal and arrest records are publicly available and as such can be searched for with nothing more than a name. This is pretty useful for anyone wanting to verify a new love interest or friend of the family, or for anyone moving to a new area that wants to check up on the new neighbors. Many providers also feature the sex-offenders register under their people-searching criteria.

Why Are They Popular?

Everyone has their own reason for using background checks. They give us the chance to make more informed decisions about our lives and the people we let into it. Whether we need to look further into a potential roommate, new neighbors or a family member’s new friend, it’s good to have the chance to investigate their criminal and social background and to do it without anyone knowing.

They don’t just have to be used for safety reasons but for social too. Some of us can’t afford the costs of private investigators and might not get the chance to track down lost family members or old friends and neighbors, but using online background checks is more affordable and accessible. They’re also a great way of looking into the data we have online of ourselves, and it gives us an opportunity to better manage it. There’s no better time than now to evaluate our online presence. 

Are Free or Cheap Services a Reliable Alternative?

Free or questionably cheap background checks, much like anything, aren’t as reliable as paid providers. If you’re running a background check it’s fair to assume that you want accurate, detailed results. This isn’t something you could get with a free service. For one, the most established providers are the ones that pay their data sources for easy access to their extensive libraries. None of the free services will use encryption either, meaning that you lose your discretion and potentially your login and banking details in the process.

A lot of the recommended providers have resources outside their people-searching services that aren’t available with free options. They have blogs and learning materials to help educate their users on how to understand and handle public-record information. As a lot of people use these services to see what information of their own is out there, it’s good to have a resource available to help you begin managing what your online profile says about you.

Can you Learn Everything About Someone?

You can only learn what you need to know if that information is available on public record. Choosing a free provider or one of lesser quality would mean you’re less likely to get a complete record. If you’re prepared to pay for a decent provider, be sure to choose one that covers as many data points as possible, otherwise, you might be disappointed by the results. Some providers will use local, state, federal, social-media, and dark-web records, whereas the free services will only use what’s easy to get your hands on; which makes for empty reports and a waste of time.

Is Background Checks Easy To Use?

Performing background checks really isn’t as exclusive as it sounds. The tools are always super simple to use and only need as much as a name to get searching, though they can work with emails, social media profiles, and phone numbers. All good services come with a responsive customer-care team and encryption measures for total privacy.

It’s good to know who’s around you and your family and at least allay your suspicions. An online background check gives you the chance to do this at a low cost and effort while keeping all your searches private.