If you’re on this page, it’s because you’re interested to know more about how to perform advanced background checks. Believe it or not, it’s not actually that difficult.
There are many great services available that will scan records and have a thorough report ready for you in minutes. This page is going to introduce you to everything you need to know.
You’ve probably only got a few questions yourself: Why do a background check, what does one show, and which is the best one?
Why Do A Background Check?
A background check can instantly alleviate (or confirm) any fears you might have about somebody. If you’re dating someone new, hiring a nanny, or even if you are suspicious of somebody you’ve known a long time, a background check might be worth considering.
Online dating is another perfect realm for a background check. Some checks can be performed just by using a screen-name or email address. With the increase in popularity of dating sites and the availability and affordability of background checking services, it’s almost a no-brainer to use one.
There are now 40 million people in the United States who admit to having tried online dating, which partly explains the popularity (and need) of these checks. 11% of these daters are already married, and 55% are in a relationship.
These are quite alarming statistics. You’re not alone in being curious either. Since the start of 2013 alone, interest in advanced checks has skyrocketed.
Here’s the Google Search Trend:
Hiring a nanny? Hiring a new CEO? It doesn’t really matter the level of your employee, background checks can be quick and painless in all situations and are a great way of making sure you’re hiring the right person.
If you’re running an employment background check (or want to know what will show up on yours), then this video below is a great help.
It’s not essential to check on your tenants’ history before you let them rent, but wouldn’t it make you more relaxed about agreeing to let them rent from you?
If somebody has a criminal record (particularly in the domestic realm), you’d definitely want to know. Background checks for tenants are on the rise, which not only reflects the nature of our times, but also shows how easy it is to do a check these days.
What Does A Background Check Show?
It really depends on which service you use and how thorough it is. There is quite a variety.
Good background check services include all or most of the following:
- Contact information and history
- Age and date of birth
- Marriage records
- Death records
- Employment history
- Education history
- Property and real estate records
- Criminal check and offenses
- Bankruptcies, liens and judgments
- Business ownership and professional listings
There might be some variation on these, but as you can see, background checks usually search for the basics. The one thing that they don’t often touch is your medical history, as this isn’t readily available information.
We’ve reviewed a lot of different services below, and noted that every decent service will state clearly what information their check will show, so if you’re looking for something not listed, try a different service.
You can also find out some basic information yourself via public records, such as marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce licenses and other basic information. Let’s explore the ways in which you can do some manual sleuthing now.
This is a great place to check someone out. You must have heard stories about companies checking out potential employees. Finding someone by searching their name can prove difficult sometimes though.
Did you know you can also search by email address? If the one you’ve got is the same as the one they’re using for FB, they’ll show up immediately. These days not everybody makes all of their profile information publicly available, but you can still use Facebook as your first port of call.
You can use Google in two ways. Firstly you can type their name and see what comes up (use quotation marks for a more accurate search), and secondly you can use Google Image Search.
If you’ve got an image of them that is publicly available on the web (such as on their website, FB profile, or other site that Google has indexed), you can enter the URL of the website and let Google display all the images.
Then you can click an image, and in the pop-up, click the small “Search by image” button. This will show you any other sites that has the same image. This is very useful for finding out if someone is using a fake image or for finding their other profiles.
Tin Eye does the same thing as Google Image Search but will allow you to upload an image and perform a reverse image search on it.
Whitepages allows you to do a reverse phone lookup for somebody. If you’ve got their phone number, you can check the public records to find out who owns that number.
Third Party Services
For the purpose of scoping somebody out and finding out as much as you can, a 3rd party service is usually best though.
Advanced background checks go a lot deeper than you’ll be able to go by yourself, and they can be almost instant.
Use our recommended tool (below) to get a search performed in under a minute
Make sure that any party you use is legitimate. If you’re unsure, you can check out the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. There are some reviews and recommendations at the bottom of this post for what services you can try in addition to the one above.
Are Background Checks Legal And Ethical?
The types of checks that we’re talking about are 100% legal, as they are not stealing information or doing anything else illegal. A lot of them DO have to pay for some of the services they provide though, which is why you have to pay as well. In terms of whether or not it is ethical, it really depends on the purpose you’re using it for. Are you spying on your daughter’s boyfriend without his knowledge?
Or are you running an employment background check for a potential new employee? What about if you’re using it on your nanny or new lover?
What really matters in terms of ethics, is whether or not the person in question knows that you’re running the check. It’s still legal to do a check without their knowledge, but they might not be too happy to hear about it. That said, there’s no way they’d know unless you told them.
Are Background Searches Anonymous?
If you’re using a good background checking service then each search you perform is 100% anonymous yes.
It would be too problematic and a lot less useful if you had to declare your search.
The laws in each State and country differ when it comes to accessing public records though, so if you’re planning to perform a manual search you should double-check your public record access laws (the local courthouse will be able to assist you with this).
Can You Or Someone Else *Hide* From A Background Check?
You can indeed. Unfortunately there’s not a magic button you can press, you’ll have to visit all the major sites who might hold data on you, and manually opt-out of them all.
For those of you residing in the US, this thread on Reddit has some great advice for you, including a list of all the major sites that hold data on you. Once you’ve opted-out of them, you’ll be a lot less likely to show up in a background check.
Is it a good idea though? Not necessarily. In fact it is almost like saying “I’ve got something to hide”.
It certainly isn’t a good idea to opt-out, if you’re going to be applying for an important job in the future.
What if someone you’re searching for doesn’t show up?
If you’re looking for somebody via a background check service and they can’t be found, there’s a good chance they’ve opted-out. This isn’t necessarily a sign of them hiding something, but it should definitely raise a warning flag for you.
There are still ways you can try to track them down, such as via the manual methods listed further up this page. A lot of the major sites hold similar data on people, so it’s not likely to be a case of one service doing a better job of finding them than another, although it is possible.
In a situation like this, your gut instinct is going to serve you well. Chances are that if you’re already doing a search, they’ve raised one or two other warning flags as well.
How Can You Interpret The Data?
Well this really depends on what you’re using the search for. An employer is going to be looking for things such as arrest records/criminal background, whereas someone checking out their date might be more concerned with marriage records (although criminal background is also a good thing to check).
The data is usually presented in clear records and formats, so it’s actually very straightforward to understand.
Here’s an example of what Verispy include in their records, and how it’s presented.
Finding The Best Background Check Services
There are a lot of different people search services out there and some are better than others. We’re constantly looking for new ones to review and recommend (or reject). Here’s our current list of recommended services:
- Verispy (Read the review)
- People Smart (Read the review)
- Instant Checkmate (Read the review)
- Intelius (Read the review)
- Spokeo (Read the review)
You can put Verispy to the test immediately with the form below.