Background Checks: Getting Started

You have probably seen background checks conducted on TV shows and movies by cops, private investigators, and other characters, but did you know that the same resources are available to the average citizen such as yourself? It’s true: many services are licensed to conduct criminal record searches, credit checks, past address searches, and much more. Many citizens find great use in these services, whether it is for their children’s babysitter or a dating partner met on an internet personals site. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, and background checks are a valuable resource for staying on the safe side.

If you don’t have a large budget to spend, don’t worry: many cheap criminal background checks are available that can accommodate your price range. And they can still turn up an astounding volume of information on just about any person. It will go far beyond criminal records. Information that they often dig up includes residence history, telephone numbers, email addresses, and more. If you can afford to spend more money, a more in-depth background check is available. Most of these services deliver results from all fifty states. Some even return results from Canada as well. Results from other countries will most likely require contacting the authorities of that country and requesting the records.

One thing to remember is that scams and ripoffs exist in the background check market, just like they do everywhere else. One popular method of draining a customer’s wallet is to bill the service as an “NCIC background check”. NCIC refers to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, which is a database of criminal histories amassed from every level of government agencies. The key point is that the NCIC database is not open to the general public, unless someone is requesting either their own records, records for a deceased individual, or records of someone who has given their consent. Before you shell out the extra dosh for an “NCIC background check”, contact the company and ask them if they obtain a consent form from the subject of the background check. If not, the service is most likely a ripoff. It is important to be aware of tricks like these and know exactly what you’re buying.

Background checks are often geared towards a specific use. Landlords are frequent users of background checks, and their area of interest lies in the residence history and credit rating of potential tenants. This is a precaution on their part to avoid tenants who may fall behind on rent or mistreat the property. Employers conducting pre-employment screening, on the other hand, do not care so much about credit history as they do about past employment and the criminal record. They obviously do not want to hire someone who may be a violent criminal or someone who is likely to walk off the job.

Carefully consider your needs and price range before you obtain a background check from an online service. Make sure you avoid the dishonest hucksters exaggerating the capabilities of their service, know what you’re paying for, and you will get great results.


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