How to Run a Background Check on Someone

Tela Lewis
court house

Checking into the history of a prospective employee or even a new acquaintance or love interest is easy in this digital age. A simple Internet search can net substantial and interesting results. Better yet, working with a third party service ensures all reporting and disclosure rules are followed to the letter of the law. Either way, background information helps paint a picture of the person based on past habits.

Before Checking

Before a person who is unknown to you becomes a trusted part of your social or family circle, it is a good idea to take some time to check their history. A new house assistant, babysitter or even a prospective date can have issues in their past worth investigating.

The more information you have about the individual, the easier it will be to find out some background information. Maiden name, current and previous address and any other information you can gather beforehand will make the process quicker and more accurate.

Free Checks

  • The best free resources to verify that a person is who they say they are remains person to person verification of facts, and selective use of the Internet. Collect free information on others from Google and the popular social media sites. PeekYou is a quick source for a searchable collection of a person's social media profiles.

  • For new love interests, a quick search of the US Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public website may ease your fears.

  • Another useful site is Snoop Station; if you can avoid the ads and navigate past the paid checks, they direct users to other full databases for marriage status, court record and general information.

  • For local criminal history and state specific records, the National Center for State Courts, or NCSC, is a general starting point. Many allow you to access court records online.

Paid Checks

Chad Brooks of Business News Daily rates the best background check services based on the services provided for the price. He recommends spending the money necessary to insure due diligence is performed prior to allowing a new individual into your personal life or family circle.

  • Intelius is touted for the quality of their reporting, with the background information provided, along with extras like a social networking profile, employment history and sex offender registry check. Their reports are under $50.
  • For safety in your household, Chad suggests BeenVerified for great customer service, ease of website navigation and a reasonable alternative to larger companies. The average check starts at under $25 each and covers anything that is public record.

Job Related

Employers have specific rules that must be followed in order to legally run a background check on a perspective employee. According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit reports are one form of background information that has access restrictions. Permission must be granted before any background information is checked.

Besides just credit reports, court and police records, driving records, financial and real estate holding can also part of a background search. Using third party agencies for running these checks helps avoid violating any laws.

Request Written Permission

Templates are available to request authorization to collect personal information. Have the person you wish to check sign a consent forms for the record. The form should list specifically what information will be included in the search. They usually require a signature and printed name from the applicant.

Perform the Search

A popular paid choice for business inquiries is US Search. For under $20 they provide an overall picture of criminal and financial history. These checks are often instant, or at most are returned within 24 business hours. For free, the best approach is to simply verify all information provided on the resume or CV and ask for professional references to check.

Check business references because personal references are not always reliable. Verify employment or other important dates and inquire about work related tasks, punctuality, salary and promotions.

Review the Results

Fair reporting laws guarantees all information - including credit reports - which are used to make a decision are shared with the applicant, especially if the information has "adverse action" or is the primary reason they do not get the job or promotion.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides advice and guidelines to companies who check on the background information of prospective employees. Providing this information is not only required, but it gives the person a better idea of how to present themselves in a better light in the future. Recordkeeping and responsible filing of the information is also necessary to prevent identity theft issues.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Deciding to invest time and money into checking the background of those who share our workplace or living space can be a tough call. Forgoing these checks could allow a con-artist or unscrupulous employee access to resources within your organization or home.

Weighing these factors, many companies are opting to invest in knowing the background of their workforce as a typical business practice. Individuals should consider researching the background of those who come in close contact with their family members.

How to Run a Background Check on Someone