Chances are you’ve come across the term “background checks” before. They’re a very common step in a variety of application processes, including employment verification, applying for an apartment, purchasing a home, and even in criminal cases.
Background checks release a variety of sensitive information about a person and can be a crucial part of deciding or verifying whether a person is who they say they are. They normally provide information dating back 7 years, but some states keep records for over 10 years.
Still, background checks do require granted access in order to obtain the information and can’t be performed by anyone. There are specific rules when it comes to background checks, but many websites -- like ours -- can provide a brief public records search that will uncover some of the basic details you’re looking for.
Although you won’t get access to all the information that can be seen in official background checks, these public records are still packed with information that can help you verify someone’s identity and reconnect with friends or family members you’ve lost touch with.
Who Can Perform Background Checks?
As mentioned above, official background checks can’t be performed by the average joe. The government is adamant about making sure that employment, lending, and renting decisions are made fairly and not based on race, color, gender, as well as a variety of other factors obtained in background checks.
There are several different companies, businesses, and government employees that can be granted access to background checks. These can include:
- Lenders - When you’re looking to take out a loan, whether it be for a home, vehicle, or a personal loan, lenders might perform background checks to view your public and credit history. This information will determine how reliable a person will be when making payments on the loan. A fishy history could mean you get denied for the loan.
- Attorneys - If you’re involved in a criminal case, whether you’re the defendant, plaintiff, or witness, attorneys could perform background checks to verify their client’s identity. This can help the attorney and court confirm someone’s testimony and reveal whether they’re credible or not.
- Police Officers - If you’ve ever been pulled over for a traffic violation, you’ll notice the police officer will head back to his vehicle for a little while after the initial conversation. What they’re doing is performing a brief background check to view any outstanding warrants and check up on your driving records.
- Employers - When you apply for a job, the employer might request to have background checks performed on all applicants. Employers use this information to verify employment history, citizenship, and can also be used to gain insight into a person’s character outside of work as a matter of keeping their business safe.
- Rental Agents - Even if you’re not looking to purchase a home or vehicle, renters can perform background checks to verify identity, view rental history, and check a person’s credit records. If they feel the person can’t be trusted to make monthly payments on time, they are likely to decline the application.
- Government Officials - As a means of keeping this country safe from intruders, all government officials are required to go through extensive background checks before they can be given access to confidential and highly-sensitive government files.
Background checks can be performed by a variety of different people and businesses, but they must be given access and need to adhere to the rules and guidelines to ensure these records are used fairly.
What Do Background Checks Provide?
Many of us go through life without ever seeing our own background checks and are clueless to what people could find about us on there. Although you won’t be able to see the extensive report that the people above will view, you can still perform basic background checks on yourself and others to at least get a piece of the pie.
Background checks can include the following:
- Personal Information - Everything from you full name to your date of birth, astrological sign, possible photos, and any aliases you could be known as (nicknames, maiden names, name changes).
- Phone Records - A detailed history of any past or current phone numbers will be included in background checks. This will provide the number, phone carrier, phone type, service location, and whether the phone number is connected or disconnected.
- Court Records - Court records can contain a variety of information in background checks. This can include marriage and divorce records (in some states), arrest records, criminal records, judgments, lien information, and even foreclosures.
- Permits & Licenses - If you have any gun permits, business licenses, or even hunting permits, they can show up on background checks for everyone to see. This information can’t be kept secret and can be used in cases that are given access.
- Relatives, Neighbors, Associates - A detailed list of any family members, neighbors, business partners, or associates linked to a person’s name can be found on background checks. This tool has been used by many to reconnect with those they’ve lost contact with.
- Address History - A comprehensive list of current and past addresses will be viewable, as well. This will include the full mailing address, the type of address it is (residential, business), as well as postal information about the address. For those that own a home, it could also show the property value and property history.
Not knowing what others can see when they perform background checks on you can be nerve-wracking. Luckily, there are ways to perform background checks on yourself, though you might not get 100% of the information that others with government access get.
How To Perform Background Checks On Yourself
The process is actually much simpler than you think and can be performed with just your first and last name. To help your search be more effective and accurate, you can enter a city and state that you currently live in -- though it’s not required to enter this information.
Background checks can give you a brief overview of your history as others can see it. Performing one on yourself can help identify whether the information included in there is accurate and up-to-date.