Performing Background Checks

 Free Background CheckAs technology moves forward, more people are using search engines and reverse phone lookups on iPhone apps to run background checks on family members, friends, possible love interests, and employees. People can search the internet for phone numbers, work history, criminal history, and relationship status. Employers take steps to get information about hires, especially if they are going to be placed in a job where security was important. Now anyone can dig into public and private information with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The Reason for Background Checks

Employers often do employment background checks on people as a part of the job screening process. This was common when someone applied for a job in a place such as a courthouse, airport, financial institution, hospital, school, or government agency. Likewise, they are required for anyone getting a license for real estate, insurance, or another job where the employee must show credibility.

Originally, checks were done when someone applied for a job. Background checks are run on companies, politicians, and individuals for a lot of reasons. The information can be important. However, state laws say what can be accessed in a background check.

Current statistics show that background checks give employers a heads up on potential employees.

  • 57% of employers say background checks lead to better hires.
  • 85% of employers report finding bad information on resumes and/or job applications.
  • 77% of employers have found issues that would have gone unnoticed.

Who Would Run a Background Check on Me?

The most common reason for a background check is employment screening. Job applicants expect background checks in certain circumstances. Someone can run a free background check for security or for personal reasons. Some information is public, but digging deeper is going to cost. Deep checks can be expensive. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) created rules about the information (e.g., credit checks) accessed by potential employers. Anyone using a third-party service must state the reason for the search.

Types of Searches

Some jobs may require certain information. However, most background searches are general. People can do searches for personal use on private individuals. Common types of screening include:

Criminal and Sex Offender Records

There are websites that show the sex offender registry, but criminal checks may not be easy to obtain. Some companies offer to research criminal history for a fee, but usually run a check of public records. Third party background check services can give more detailed information, but will not guarantee the information is correct. The only way to get truly accurate information is to search county or state databases. Official databases are the best way to obtain information on arrests, criminal convictions, court judgments, and other information pertinent to a criminal background check.

Citizenship Status

Employing undocumented workers is illegal and can spell trouble for the employer. Since the formation of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security, employers are required to supply proof of citizenship for its workers.

Court Records

Getting information on court records is important for personal and employment reasons. It’s important to know if a future relationship or employee has been in court and what for. It can attest to the person’s character. Public records reveal a great deal about a person and are easy to access.

Driving Records

Employees required to drive at their jobs must have clean records for insurance and safety reasons. Employers can contact their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and/or the Department of Transportation for information.

Education Records

Records show educational information. You can find out if a person has a high school diploma, college degree, graduate degree or license.

Employment Verification

Employers often check job history to check a person’s employment history including his or her skill set, performance, attendance, and relationship with employers and coworkers. LinkedIn can provide information on a person’s work history and performance. Google is another valuable resource for general information.

Financial Information

Reports may include a person’s credit history, civil judgments, tax information or bankruptcy. The FCRA is the best source. This is important information to have for a relationship or employer working in a financial space.

Social Security Number

A person’s social security number shows where a person has lived and worked. People who give out a false SSN may be guilty of identity theft or could be illegal.

Employers cannot refuse to hire someone based on the information of an unofficial search.

How to Run a Free Background Check

Free websites for in-depth background checks don’t exist. Sites offering complete information charge for their services. However, there are some simple ways to get basic information for free.

Search Engines

Search engines are the easiest places to start. Enter the person’s name and location in the search bar of a search engine site. Google and Bing are the most common sites. A simple search will show photos, social media sites. On average, every person has at least one social media account. The search may also show the person’s location, phone number and email. If the person’s name is common, say Joe Smith, put the name in quotes to narrow the search. Enter “Joe Smith” and location, if possible.

Social Media

Social media sites are revealing. People post pictures, thoughts, political views, and comments about work and personal life. Public accounts are a wealth of information. Private accounts reveal little but may offer hints to get more information. Sites to check include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat.

Incorrect Information

One important step many people miss is running their own background check. People find old information contained in databases. Running your own background check enables you to review information others can see about you. Incorrect information can cost you a job or a relationship. Social media sites are filled with personal information including date of birth, phone number, address and other details you may not want released to the public. You can report incorrect information to the issuing agency. You can also learn how to remove information from your report.

Pamela M