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The Importance of Background Checks

Saturday, January 16th

The Importance of Background Checks

Do you have something in your past that is embarrassing, like being arrested for protesting for an social cause during your college years? Ever fail to pay a series of speeding tickets in a state in which you no longer reside? Think no one will ever find out about these things? Think again.

In the digital age, secrets are no longer safe, especially from potential employers. Vetting someone you just met is not only a smart thing to do - it's becoming more common every day.

There are two kinds of background checks most commonly being used today: a general background check and a criminal background check. A general background check is comprehensive and reveals information such as birth, marriage and divorce records, as well as a history of every residence a person has ever had. It also can contain such information as whether a person has ever filed for bankruptcy. General background checks also include a conviction record. Because of their complexity, a general background check often is expense to conduct.

A criminal background check focuses solely on a person's criminal convictions. In some states, arrests are not permitted to be included on a person's criminal history. Only if a person has actually been convicted of a crime will it be included in the history.

While using third-party background checking agencies is common, many people today also are simply Googling a person's name to see what they may find. For this reason, social media such as Twitter and Facebook could end up costing you a good relationship if you're not careful about what you post. Even if you feel secure in knowing your background is squeaky clean, be careful what you tweet and post, because it, too, can come back to haunt you.

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Background Check Service FAQ

The information provided by a background check is determined by the service you select. Common details include traffic offenses and arrest records, known addresses and phone numbers, property ownership and court cases. Some of the more thorough services even attempt to track social media profiles and look for the individual's presence on the Dark Web.
That also depends on which provider you use to run the check. Most services make it more affordable to pay for a month of access than to run a one-off report. For example, one service charges $29.95 for a single background check, but $29.89 for a month of unlimited reports! You can take advantage of the longer subscription terms to research to your heart's content!
There are lots of reasons you might want to do a background check. Maybe you're in charge of a membership list that has outdated information and you need to track down the new contact details for a few people. Or you might be curious about your new neighbors and want to get some insights before you reach out (though, honestly, that might be a little creepy!). Background checks can also give you some peace of mind if you're into the online dating thing, to make sure that seemingly nice man or woman really is who they say they are before you meet in person.
Usually just a few minutes. You'll enter the information you have, like name and any known addresses, and then you might be asked to provide other details or confirm preliminary results as a match.
Absolutely! It's a great way to determine what someone else might find if they check YOU out! It can also give you a heads-up if you're going to have a background check done for some official purpose, like applying to be a foster parent or for a job that requires one. If you find something in your results that's inaccurate, it gives you time to get it fixed or to prepare an explanation for your agency or prospective employer.
Yes. You may not use consumer background check services to gather information to make decisions about tenant screening, insurance, employment or consumer credit. These all require FCRA-compliant platforms, which typically involve the consent of the person being screened. If you need a background check for any of these purposes, be sure to choose a service specifically designed to be legal and compliant.
This varies widely by service. Some providers really go to great lengths to return accurate results, while others seem to just scour the internet and dump every remotely-possible match they find. It's a good idea to read reviews and check out a background check provider's reputation before paying to run reports.
Most of the time, there isn't. However, many background check services give you a free trial, ranging from a day or two to a full week. Who knows, you might even be able to get the information you were looking for in that timespan and not need to continue on as a paid subscriber!
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