So what’s the deal with the huge popularity surge in background checks? In the last decade or so, background checks have supplanted reference checks as the main recourse for employers, and are now also used for many other inquiries, from deciding whether to go with a roommate to doing a bit of discovery about a potential caregiver for your folks.
Perhaps two of the most reliable and comprehensive ways to perform a background check might be to use the services which are offered online, or to hire a professional in the field to take on the task.
However, a bit of information can be gleaned if you have the time and inclination to do so. For instance, did you know that most court records are available to the public? You might Google “National Center for State Courts” or check your local government’s website.
Those big three firms in the credit field—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian—offer a free credit report. The limit is one a year.
Too, there are Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA’s) which sometimes fit the bill—depending on your focus.
How Might A Background Search Be Useful To Me?
Here are a couple of ways in which a background search might be of help to you:
Researching Available Information on Yourself Might Prove a Handy Tool
Ordering a background search on yourself might turn out to be a revelation…and perhaps even a hearty reassurance. Why? If you’re interested in what’s being floated around on the Internet—erroneously or otherwise—about you, or about your name, at any rate, it might be a good idea to order a background search on yourself.
Too, a “selfie” credit check isn’t such a bad idea. Getting at least one of those reports once a year is an opportunity for you to nip in the bud any misinformation which is being circulated to folks who might want to work with you, or loan you monies.
Remember that writing in to those Big Three (or phoning in, or even e-mailing) is a good way to contest what you consider flat-out incorrect or outdated in your credit report.
And don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea that nothing erroneous could ever be filed under your name.
The good news is that these three companies are, for the most part, quick to rectify any false information which is pointed out to them.
I’m Trying To Remember if I Have Posted Unflattering Information about Myself on Some Social Sites. What to Do?
We all make mistakes. Are you concerned about photos or tidbits of information which you may have submitted to a few sites which no longer apply, and which perhaps might not cast you in the best light?
A background check on yourself would bring these to the fore, and provide you ample opportunity to resolve the issue.
Take heart, however. Most folks will take into account that they’ve been in the same boat, and will be willing to give you a break if a few unwanted bits of personal data rise to the surface during a business search.
Stress that it won’t happen again.
Professional Searches are Efficacious
If you’re too busy to conduct legal searches on others on your own, perhaps for a potential debtor or tenant or employee, a professional background search, whether performed online or via a CRA, will help you to vet potential candidates in ways that are deemed much more efficient than taking the application in hand and following up references, or calling up contacts or professional personnel, yourself.
What Sort of Information Am I Prohibited From Soliciting?
If you’re looking to get credit information on someone, you need a legitimate reason and written permission from the applicant. This is the case in almost every state, although individual states do vary slightly in their interpretation of the law.
If you’re an employer and are searching public records, you already know that public records can’t be restricted. However, the way our laws are set up, you may not make a decision about whom to hire utilizing the following information:
- Bankruptcy Records
- Medical Records
- Workers’ Compensation Records
- Educational Records
- Criminal Records
- Bankruptcy Records
- Military Records
Note: Driving records are commonly enquired about…especially if driving will be part of the job.
Consumer Reporting Agencies
If you’re opting to use a company which does background searches, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’ll specifically need a firm that’s billed as a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). Why? A CRA will offer conflict resolution—should there be a dispute, and is careful to share only that information which can be legally provided.
In other words, a CRA adheres to certain standards.
Speaking of maintaining certain standards, in all cases involving background checks, always keep in mind that many people have the same or similar names. Don’t jump to conclusions if you are faced with negative search results.
Take every precaution to verify that the person whose background you are searching is really the individual that you are considering as a potential tenant, employee or roommate.
And even if the confirmation checks out, you might wish to give the person a chance to explain herself or himself. In some cases, you might be relieved to learn that circumstances have taken a 180 degree turn.