The Do's and Don'ts of Online Background Checks
Not so long ago, if you wanted information about someone, you had to visit the public records office, fill out forms, wait for a response, and physically sift through the results. Today, background checks have gone online, transforming the process. Now, you can search for anyone. The service will scan billions of records and deliver a clean report with relevant information quickly. Online services make the process faster, easier, and more streamlined so that more people can take advantage.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Background Checks
Background checks aren’t a blanket permission to invade someone’s privacy. The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) is a federal legislation that oversees the collection and use of personal information. It was enacted to ensure personal information wasn’t abused and that businesses respect the public’s privacy.
The best background check services comply with these regulations. If you’re a business looking to hire, you’ll need to comply with FCRA regulations as well. Generally, these laws don’t apply to the average person using background check services, only to employers. However, here are some rules about what you can and can’t do with a background check:
- Find public records more efficiently
- Reconnect with old friends
- Find a lost loved one
- Check out a potential roommate
- Find a more current mailing address
- Investigate an online dating profile
- See what information is out there about yourself
- Confirm online merchants and customers
- Find out more about a new neighbor
- Check that adults interacting with your children are safe (i.e. coaches, teachers, carpool parents, etc.)
- Confirm facts, quotes, or other public information for a paper, assignment, or article
- Use background checks for potential hires or tenants within business or corporate lodgings, even in a private home setting (i.e. dog walkers, nannies, etc.)
- Contact people who don’t want you to be in touch
- Steal someone’s personal information or identity
- Determine if someone is eligible for a loan, insurance, or other consumer information-based services
- Invade someone’s privacy
Which Online Background Check Websites are the Best?
Before you choose a company, read background check reviews. What makes a good online background check website? Accuracy, breadth of information, speed, and reliable customer service. Of course, information is the most important factor. When running a check, you’ll get a lot of information including:
- Census data
- Nearby sex offenders
- Criminal records
- Traffic violations
- Known aliases
- Social media accounts (even hidden ones)
- Possible relatives
- Arrest records
- Contact information
- Past and current mailing addresses
- Businesses owned
- Licenses held
The better the service, the more information you’ll receive, but how do you know which are the best background check companies? Here are some of the top names in the industry along with their strong points.
BeenVerified is one of the most widely used background check websites for good reason. It has a solid mobile app, billions of records, and even has a Pro version ideal for businesses with batch processing, APIs, and customizable functionality. One of its most impressive features is the BeenVerified notifications that alert you when records contained within a report have changed.
BeenVerified has monthly or pay-as-you-go subscriptions. The monthly membership gives you unlimited checks for $22.86/month. You can also sign up for three months and save 35%.
Intelius offers free credit score checks on the spot, $1 million identity theft insurance, and all three credit bureau reports.
Intelius has a basic and a premium account. Intelius also has a 7-day free trial so you can decide if you like the service.
TruthFinder delivers loads of information with its reports. The information is well organized and easy to read through. Additionally, this service digs deep into social media activity, listing accounts, photos, and even posts.
TruthFinder has monthly plans for just under $30, with a discount for three-month packages that brings the price down to around $26/month. Additionally, you can opt for the Phone Number Lookup Plan, which only costs $2 for unlimited phone records.
For more information, click here to read our full review.
Instant CheckMate is another great service that helps you find information fast. It has user-friendly search functionality and a good breadth of information retrieval. Instant CheckMate also has good customer support for troubleshooting and questions.
The standard package lets you run unlimited checks for $34.78/month, while a three-month plan costs $83.47 altogether. You can also try Instant CheckMate for five days and only pay $1.
Click here to read our full CheckMate review.
Do a background check in less than a couple of minutes for any person in the United States. You can get your hands on information such as criminal history, phone numbers, addresses, photos, known aliases, emails as well as sex offender data. If you want to know more about the criminal history of any particular person People Looker will bring up data like arrests, offense records, most wanted lists, and even known aliases. Property information can include satellite maps of properties, tax amounts, buyer and seller info as well as property value information.
You should note that some reports will require added payment. These include marriage and divorce records, court judgments, tax liens as well as licenses. There is a mobile app available for Android and iOS devices which actually allows you to perform more tasks than the desktop version like reverse phone searches as well as email searches. The interface is simple to use, but if you have any issues you can always give the toll-free number a call.
For more information, click here to read our full review.
What Happens if I Use an Online Background Check for Something I am Not Supposed to?
Employers can be legally prosecuted if found using background checks inappropriately (i.e. not hiring based on information or running checks without consent). If you are a private citizen, it would be difficult for anyone to find out if you were personally using the background check for the wrong reasons. You would be in breach of the terms and conditions agreement you signed when signing up for a service, though most likely no legal actions would be taken.
Background Checks Done Right
Whether you want to rekindle an old flame or find out how trustworthy the new softball coach is, background checks will give you the information and peace of mind you’ve been looking for. Discover the truth today.