Background Check FAQ
What are the advantages of doing a free background check online?
A background check online offers you the opportunity to gather relevant information about a person of interest so that you can make a better-informed decision. This is an ideal search to run on a potential love interest, a job candidate, a babysitter or house sitter, roommate, and new friends. The advantages to such an online search are in verification of facts, discovery of new information, and the ability to create a “profile” of a person based on his/her background. Additionally, you may find an advantage in searching your own background records, and learning what is being said about you on file.
How is it possible to get a background check for free online?
First of all, understand that there is no central database of records, with the exception of the National Crime Information Center, which is only searchable by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. These are private federal records. There is another class of records known as non-public records, and these records are searchable by inquiring minds. However, these records are not federally stored, but stored on the state level. The non-public databases you find online may be free or commercial, and may be compilations of state records, or perhaps links to individual state-sponsored websites. The “free” catch means that you may be treated to a free trial, or perhaps a free record search.
What records are included in free background checks online?
These records usually contain only non-public records, as opposed to private commercial records, such as credit reports (information from credit reports is only available to members of a credit bureau, who have a legitimate business reason for searching). Non-public records can consist of new address and contact information, usually derived from credit records, as well as criminal records, fraud convictions, and driver’s license information. Other types of records commonly used for research include census records, birth records, marriage records, divorce records, death records, court records (civil and criminal), business licenses, police reports, real estate appraisal records, sex offender files and voter registration files. Each state determines what records are private, non-public and public, so not all records will be available 100% of the time.
What is the best way to start searching with free background checks?
Even if you are using one database to search you must organize your search by a state, as this is the way individuals are usually tried in civil or criminal cases. You may have to start with broader information that you already know, such as the person’s full name, or a city or county in which he or she lived. You can use a free service like Pipl to help you get started.
Does everything a person has been charged with appear on a criminal background check?
All felonies and misdemeanors are included in a criminal background check, provided the person was arrested and convicted of an offense. In the event that the charges were dropped, the offense would not be on searchable records, even if the person was arrested. Convicted offenses included on record will also include traffic violations. Traffic violations and other minor misdemeanors would not be included on the report if a pardon was issued or a first time offender fee paid.
What is an FBI background check?
This refers to a local search, as local law enforcement agencies actually receive record information from the centralized FBI database. However, most U.S. citizens do not have clearance to actually search FBI records themselves. Instead, they find the information that has been passed down to state, city and county offices.
Can you run a federal criminal records check?
Some search resources can acquire information on federal crimes, though the sources are still state-organized. A federal criminal background check can only reveal cases from specific federal district court records. These searches must be performed separately, as FBI records are not accessible to non-law enforcement. Criminal charges on a federal level are merely crimes that involve multiple state boundaries or crimes committed on government property.
What is the legality of a free background check?
There is nothing illegal about running a background check, as non-public records and public records can be freely searched in most states (though some records may require a nominal fee). The only exception would be private records, which would be illegal to search or use without proper authorization. Credit reports are private documents that must be requested from a legitimate business and with the written or implied consent of the user. Therefore, requesting employment, or an application for credit, would be considered permission to run such a check.
What miscellaneous information will free background checks reveal about a person?
Educational searches are becoming frequent, particularly in employment verification. A background check can display educational achievements, including the courses a person has taken, grades for each course, dates of attendance and the highest honor achieved, along with GPA. In addition to educational merits, another popular free background check service is social media searching, as well as Google searching, which can reveal much about a person’s online presence.
What is the difference between using a background check for free and hiring a private investigator?
A criminal background check online can return much of the same non-public information as a PI can legally investigate. While a private investigator can do localized researching, more and more online background searches are returning personal records, such as character references. Private investigators tend to charge more money, as you are paying an hourly wage and not just a flat rate for a record that you need.
Are all free background checks completely accurate?
Of course not, as people can lie, skip town and provide incorrect information with relative ease. However, more often than not, even people who do not want to be found make a mistake by telling the truth—and that instance of telling the truth stays on record. There are some instances in which a search may return inaccurate results, such as another person by the same name, though this is a rare instance if more identifiers are included (i.e. middle names, age, city, etc.)
What is the best type of criminal background check to run?
Most online databases list their “comprehensive search” as their premiere offering. Unfortunately, these searches can cost anywhere to $50 to $500, depending on the details of the search. However, there are also free background checks online that can return non-public and public records, all of which can be very helpful to an employer or associate who simply wants to know if a person can be trusted.
How long do search results take for a comprehensive criminal background check?
This is a complex question and answer, since there is no centralized way of delivering information. Some online websites offer very fast results, since these results are prerecorded and simply “locked” for non-public purposes. As soon as you pay the nominal fee you can see the record. However, other cases are more complex and may require a credit report search, searching court houses, property notices, and the like. These various types of records are not usually included on one database, and thus some researching may be involved. This research time will delay your “instant search” results if necessary, and you may have to wait to be emailed comprehensive reports within 1-3 days.
Where is your information coming from?
Remember that with any and all free background checks (and paid searches) that your results are compiled from multiple sources. Some of these sources are from vital records, or perhaps a federal database (handed down to local law enforcement), whereas other search results may be directly from a court, a school or an employer. Remember to choose a quality site, as some public search sites only return basic white pages information usually acquired from magazine subscriptions and the like.
How far back do the records go?
Technically speaking, records go back multiple generations. However, the universal standard of “currency”, when searching dated records, is seven years. This is how long most bad financial data stays on a credit report, and likewise, many search companies also stop at the seven year mark when it comes to employment, education verification, and the like. However, some counties keep felony offenses on record for longer than seven years. Naturally, some records (such as sex offender status) are kept searchable indefinitely.
What are the most important identifiers when doing a search?
Try to find as much “identifying” information as possible before running a search. In addition to the person’s full name, try to acquire a date of birth, a Social Security number, a driver’s license number, and if possible, any information you have regarding a crime committed, charges, and court dates.
How can you control costs when conducting multiple “free” background checks online?
Remember that even free background check searches may only be for a limited time. The most efficient way to save money and time when searching multiple records is to create a “case” for the person you’re searching and create specific items you want to uncover in the search, including for example, criminal records, education, and so on. Search for each item one at a time using your free online search resources. Whenever you need a record that is subscription based or that requires a fee, pay only for that
record - even some commercial research companies allow you to buy individual records. Understand that the only way to receive specialized data, such as credit data, is to pay a fee for credit searches from a credit bureau searching company. If saving time is of the essence, then it may be best to use a comprehensive background check free database that combines all vital data into one report.
Why is it important for employers to run a free background check online on new candidates?
Running a background check allows employers to uncover serious personal problems and reveal them (drugs, multiple arrests, etc), which also helps to reduce legal problems and office efficiency problems. Running a credit report can also reveal much about the financial discipline of a person, and produce better hires overall. Lastly, verifying all credentials supplied minimizes the occurrence of fraud, which could potentially cost a company a great deal of money.
How should you prepare for a conversation following a negative background check for free online?
If you are trying to find a job or meet a new associate or friend, then you may be rightfully concerned that a negative item will appear on your background check report. First of all, run your own name and find out all of the specifics that are kept on record. Whenever the question is asked, answer honestly and explain the story. It is far better to admit a negative item on your report upfront than to pretend as if didn’t exist.
Can running free background checks keep my household safe?
Yes, because not only can you run sex offender and criminal records for free, but you can also find resources in the way of crime statistics and viewable maps, showing you where offenders live. Running free searches is also an effective way to protect your family and property from con artists, dangerous employees or associates, or possible unsuitable love interests.
What happens when I want to search for a hyphenated name or a maiden/married name on a criminal background check?
In this instance, you may have to perform two searches, one for each name. Sometimes individuals create records with only one name. This is why applications, search fields and other criteria require all aliases to be listed. In the case of a woman with a new married name, you may have to search for the husband, and make use of identifiers.
How often are records updated for a free background checks?
This depends on the source of the records. Some free services may take as long as six months to update an old address. On the other hand, credit information is usually updated immediately after a transaction occurs or a credit item is added to the report. Court records are also updated quickly, though death records and divorce records are obviously going to be delayed because of required paperwork.
Check back here for more frequently asked questions about free background checks online!