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About Background Checks

Find the information you need with a background check

Background checks can protect your interests and provide the information you need to make an informed decision. A potential new employee, a romantic interest, or a friendly new neighbor may be concealing financial problems or a worrisome criminal history.

A background check typically includes an overview of the individual's credit history, a criminal history search for arrests and criminal convictions, and an employment history. There are different types of background checks, and some are more comprehensive than others.

Approximately 92% of employers conduct background checks on potential employees, but there are several other reasons you may wish to perform a background check. Fortunately, you can easily perform a background check to uncover information about someone's past.

Why do a background check?

There are a variety of reasons you may want to run a background check.

Employers conduct background checks to find out whether a potential employee is dependable and trustworthy. Potential hires with criminal records or very low credit scores may harm a company's interests.

Landlords or property owners may perform background checks on potential tenants or buyers to make sure they are financially reliable or don't have a criminal history.

You may want to conduct a background check on someone you met online or a new romantic interest in order to ensure that he or she doesn't have a criminal record.

You may also wish to perform a background check on yourself in order to ensure that your record is accurate and that nobody has stolen your identity.

How to perform a background check

It is imperative to find the right service to run your background check. Some background check services may return inaccurate or incorrect results. Others may lack information or provide outdated or incomplete information.

You'll also need to decide how quickly you want the results. Standard background checks are usually completed within three to seven days, but more comprehensive probes take as long as a month. You can expedite background checks, but such services have higher fees.

Some other sites allow you to conduct instant background checks, but the information is usually less accurate and often incomplete. If accuracy over speed is your priority, then you're better off doing it right the first time.

This website can help you find the best background check for you.

How to get the most from a background check

In order to perform a background check, you'll need accurate information. The minimum information for a successful background search includes your subject's name, approximate date of birth, place of residence, and prior employment.

You can perform a background search with only an individual's name. However, it is important to verify that you have the correct individual by cross-referencing additional details about your subject. This can help you avoid making mistakes about an individual's identity.

Before conducting any background check, decide what information you want to find in order to narrow the scope of your search. For example, you may want to run a criminal background check if you're screening a romantic interest or a new neighbor. If you're running background checks on potential employees, you may want a more comprehensive background check that include credit histories, bankruptcies, and work history.

Depending on the nature of your background check, privacy may also be a consideration. If you're running a background check on yourself, a new romantic interest, or a neighbor, you don't need to obtain consent. However, consent is necessary if you plan on running background checks on potential employees. In most cases, you'll need a formal consent form and a contract informing the prospective employee about his or her rights.

If you are running a background check for employment purposes, it is important to abide by all state laws. Some states, such as California, only allow employers to ask about criminal convictions, in order to prevent employers from disqualifying applicants solely based on an arrest. Other state laws may also bar you from considering offenses that don't relate to the job.

It is important to read a background check closely. Background checks provide very detailed information, and you will need to use your judgment to interpret it. Some background checks may show obvious red flags, such as convictions for sexual assault or recent bankruptcies. Others may be more subjective. For example, did the person file for bankruptcy over a decade ago? Did a criminal background check show a conviction for a minor, nonviolent drug possession years ago? You may not want to disqualify someone based on minor occurrences from the distant past.

In the case of employment background checks, you should compare the results against any statements your potential hire made in his or her applications and interviews, as well as verifying how long the applicant worked with previous companies. Did the applicant lie about or exaggerate their work history? An applicant may claim he was a manager when the employment background check shows he was only an assistant.

A background check will give you a wealth of information about your subject. However, you must decide what to do with that information. Decide what is most relevant for your purposes, set acceptable minimum standards that should be met, and plan for how to handle the inevitable minor issues that may turn up in a background check.

Be prepared to ask your subject follow-up questions to understand the context for material in the background check. For example, if you're planning to hire a truck driver, but the background check reveals a DUI ten years ago, you might not want to automatically rescind the job offer. However, you will be prepared to speak candidly with the candidate before deciding to move forward.

Background reports yield important information about people, but they don't always provide a complete picture. When reading a background report, make sure to consider the details of the report closely in order to make informed decisions about that individual.