With so many options available for performing a background check on someone, it can be difficult to decide which service will best meet your needs. This can not only lead to hours of tedious searching, but also has the potential to cause serious harm if you make the wrong choice.
Fortunately, knowing what questions to ask can go a long way towards making the right decision for yourself. Below, we look at some of the essential factors you should look at to ensure whatever service you choose is comprehensive – and doesn’t result in unexpected problems down the road.
There is almost no limit to the amount of information available online if you know where to look for it. The best background check services know exactly where those resources are, and draw on a comprehensive list of them to leave no stone unturned when performing a check.
Verify where any service you are thinking about using is getting its information. Are they checking federal records? Local courthouses? Sex offender lists? Weapons permits? The dark web? If a service claims to be an expert background check service but only collects data from a small number of sources, it’s a red flag that indicates you should be going elsewhere.
Understand the Types of Background Checks Available
The term “background check” is actually a bit of a misnomer. In fact, this is a catch-all phrase used to describe a wide variety of different information searches that can be done on an individual.
Some of the information that can be generated by running a background check on someone include:
- Contact information
- Current and past addresses
- Criminal records
- Social media profiles
- Traffic accidents
- Current and former roommates
- Possible neighbors
- Businesses and business associates
- Weapons permits
- Professional licenses
However, not every service offers every kind of search. Always be sure to check what you need versus what is being offered before making a decision.
Ensure Compliance with Legal Regulations
The operating procedures and internal policies used by a background check company are strictly regulated by law. If your circumstances fits the below categories, you must seek out a background check service that is compliant with the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA):
- An employer screening a potential employee
- A landlord screening a potential tenant
- Screening nannies, domestic workers, and other household employees
If you are running a background check for another purpose, the service you use needn’t be FCRA compliant.
Once you’ve determined that a service can generate the data that you need, it’s time to start looking at its price tag.
Background check companies often offer a variety of price/service combinations. Start by evaluating how many searches you need, and how long you plan to continue using the service.
If it’s just a matter of a few searches in the immediate term, you can find companies offering competitive pricing on a single month. If you’re looking to do more voluminous searching over a longer period of time, there are several companies offering discounts when you sign up for a membership over a period of several months.