How to Do a Free Online Background Check On Yourself
Most people who use the internet will have performed an online background check on themselves at some point during their lives. Don’t believe us? How many times have you Googled your name?
If you have genuinely never tried this before then you might be in for a bit of a shock! It’s good practice to perform regular background checks on yourself in order for you to see what personal information is public. But why is it so important? And how much information can you really find out about yourself or others online?
Why Do You Need a Background Check?
To answer this question we need to go back in time a little to those dark days before the internet! When you needed to find out about a company or person you would have to use a telephone directory or even pay for someone to help. These days you can find everything online: from what someone ate for brunch, to who they dated, and where they currently live.
Websites such as LinkedIn provide employment profiles and are normally accessible to the public. Social media sites not only contain incredibly detailed information but photographs and location tags too. If you search your name in Google, Bing, AOL or Yahoo try typing “name, location” and see what information shows up. Often people will be able to search for name, location, background information, and current address. It doesn’t end there though. There are specialist sites on the internet that can trawl way deeper, revealing personal information online.
White Pages can reveal your current address as well as previous addresses and family member names who may be associated with you. Pipl does much the same. If you hold a driving offence, criminal record or have ever been in financial difficulties then this information can easily be found online too. A Google search probably wouldn’t pick up this information but special online background check companies who trawl the deep web could almost certainly find out this “hidden” information.
What Info is Out There About You? Why Should You care?
Online profiles are often overlooked as people tend to forget or be unaware of what information is out there for public eyes to see. How is your online persona? Many employers admit to trawling websites to get information on potential employees before even offering an interview. These searches can become more intense if you are then offered the job. Are your social media pages safe? If they can be viewed by the public, just how professional are you going to look online?
Another problem is that the information that is available online may be inaccurate and might need removing or updating at the very least. Performing a background check will at least show you what information is out there for all to see. Of course, the service can be used the other way around too with websites, such as PeopleLooker, being a useful tool to find out information about potential roommates or dates. If you want to find out if someone has a criminal record or if they’re actually married (hello Facebook images) then an advanced online background check can provide you with this information.
What Personal Information Can You Find in a Background Check?
A free background check on yourself can bring up some unexpected results and these can vary depending on what type of background check methods you decide to use. If you use a dedicated background check service then the type of information you can expect to find will be relating to public records and individual accounts such as social media etc
This is what you can expect to find online:
- Criminal Records – if you are based in the US you will find that each state performs online background checks differently, but generally speaking, most companies will look into National Criminal Databases, Federal & State Criminal Records, Terrorist Watch Lists, Sex Offender Lists, and County Criminal Courts.
- Employment Records/Former Employers – there’s a bit of a grey area when it comes to online background checks performed by employers but the general rule here is that employers are not allowed to check your background before they have hired you. They will need your permission for this. Of course, this won’t stop all employers from doing a quick Google search, etc., but it isn’t legally allowed. It is considered a violation of privacy if an employer checks your social media profiles but if they want to look into your background legally they will need to do this in accordance to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which states that employers will need written permission to perform an employment check. Always work with a FCRA compliant company if requesting a background check for an employee or potential employee.
- County, State, and Federal Court Records – Both criminal and civil court records are included in a report. Some court data may be limited due to local reporting laws.
- Driving Records – A general overview of your driving record including traffic violations. Note that you’ll want to do a national search if you have driving records in multiple states.
- Address(es) and Phone Numbers – Anywhere you’ve lived plus any current or prior phone numbers will appear in the report.
- Education Report – If you’re lying about receiving a degree from UCLA, a background check will tell on you.
- Online Footprint – Any online accounts you have, including social media may be listed on this report, including that long-forgotten MySpace account.
Why Perform a Background Check on Yourself?
It’s your absolute right to know what information is floating around out there on the internet as not only can it be inaccurate but it can be damaging too. People tend to really care how they are perceived in real life but when it comes to their online persona, they aren’t so careful. If you have posted an embarrassing photo or Tweeted something controversial and forgotten about it, it will still be there for the public to view and this, unfortunately, builds a picture of who you are.
Even if your records are squeaky clean and your social media accounts are only open for friends to see, there is still likely to be a whole host of information about you online that will need editing or removing.
There are many ways to do a free background check on yourself and you’ll likely find a little information. But when you try to search for the more hidden personal data, then this job becomes difficult. This is when you’ll need help from a professional online background check company.
Performing Online Background Check Yourself Vs Professional Online Check Service
There are several ways in which you can perform an online background check online; you can either perform the check yourself or get help.
Let’s talk about doing it yourself first…
The benefits of performing an online background check is that it can be easy, quick to do and free. You will inevitably be limited by what you are legally allowed to access though, so bear this in mind.
How to do a Background Check on Yourself
Use Search Engines
The fastest and most obvious way to perform an online background check is to search for your information using search engines. Type “name, location” into Google and see what information, links, and photos pop up. But don’t forget to also search Yahoo, Bing, and AOL too, as they often show different results.
Go to the Deep Web
Not to be confused with the dark web (where you will find a hotbed of criminal activity) the deep web is just information that wouldn’t normally show up on a search engine results page. Personal emails, private banking, medical records, and legal information is all available online but not available to search as they contain zero links for search engines to trawl. This information is found in the deep web, a place where private detectives can search and also some websites such as Pipl.
Check Your Address
Is your address online? And more importantly, is this information accessible to the public? Take a look at websites such as White Pages which exists for US-based users only. This website allows you to enter a name and address and will then reveal a profile of who lives there, where they have lived previously, their ages and people they are associated with. If you sign up to this service then other information is available online too.
Access Public Records
Although the clue is in the name, not everyone realizes that public records are available for the public to search. Private investigators use this information all the time as it’s a valuable tool for gaining background information. Helpful places to search are: Social Security Death Index, Tax Assessor’s Office, PACER, State Department Of Corporation and The National Archives. Word of warning though, this information can be time-consuming to search and also complicated to understand.
Performing a free background check on yourself is easy if you just want to do a quick search engine check. If you’re looking for more in-depth information then you’ll find that things get a little more complicated and a lot more time-consuming. If you’re only wanting to find out surface-level information then a free online check may be adequate. However, if you want to get a full picture of your online profile then you’ll need to use a professional online background service.
The Best Background Check Services Around
Here are our favorite online background check companies:
One of the most highly-recommended online background check companies, BeenVerified offers unparalleled access to public records as well as other information too and gives you a full report of the person who has been checked. An example of a report might feature your career history, photos, bankruptcy records, weapon permits, and traffic tickets. There are a range of packages available that start from around $14.86 per month to $22.86 for unlimited checks per month.
What is great about this background check service is that it is super versatile and can be used in two ways. Intelius allows you to run two different searches; a People Search and Full Background Check. Use the People Search to find out basic information on yourself or other people. This search is likely to bring up phone numbers, addresses, relatives and any aliases. If you are looking for more in-depth information then the Full Background Check will provide you with significantly more detailed information and you can even choose to perform a Statewide or National Background Check. There are a number of packages available.
If you are looking for a more in-depth search and would like to obtain a comprehensive report then TruthFinder is the right company to use. Remember we spoke about the deep web? Well, this background check company will trawl through that in addition to a standard check in order to create the best background report. You can expect to find criminal records, information regarding your neighbors and photos as well as much more. Packages start from around $27 a month.
Another background check company with an excellent reputation, CheckMate goes above and beyond when it comes to background checks. Not only will it reveal standard information such as court records and credit information but if you pay a few dollars more you can access corporate affiliations and business associations as well as permit and licensing data, property holdings, and more. There is an Android App you can use with this service which allows you to perform checks anywhere and everywhere. Packages start from $34.78 monthly for unlimited checks.
The Bottom Line
It makes sense to perform an online background check on yourself. The information is out there on the internet and it’s important to see what your online profile says about you. Is it accurate? Could it be damaging in any way and prevent you from landing your perfect job? It pays to be smart in an era where everything is recorded digitally. We always recommend performing a basic check online but when it comes to obtaining the most comprehensive report we really feel it’s best to pay a few dollars to get an online background check service to do this for you. Not only can their software trawl the deep web but they can also do this quickly and legally, preventing you from getting into trouble. Be smart, check your online profile but also get the most in-depth information that you can and make it worthwhile.