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How to Access the Criminal Records on Anyone: The Best Practices For a Successful Background Check

Mon, Oct 22 - 4:04 am
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If you’re hiring or an important job position or entering a relationship with a person, you might want to ensure that there are no skeletons in the closet to deal with. Criminal records background checks are an excellent way to ensure your safety and build a productive connection with another person. 

You might want to run a job-related or private criminal record check without the subject knowing. In this post, you’ll find out how to how to look up criminal records on people without their consent, if it is legal, and what documents are needed to check if someone’s a criminal overseas. 

Can I Run a Background Check Without Them Knowing?

Thanks to online vetting engines and online databases, you can trace anyone’s criminal records in a half an hour of surfing the web. However, there are some legal implications that come along with unconsented data collection. 

A set of rules and regulations to follow when accessing someone’s police records depends on the type of background check - personal or professional. 

Personal background check

When you meet people online or someplace else, there’s rarely a way to ask ‘Are you crime-free?’. That’s why it’s a common practice to check criminal records to ensure you are not making contact with someone dangerous. 

The most common reasons for personal background checks include:

  • Relationships. Dating website profiles don’t tell much about people, and it’s common to lie in profile bios. That’s why running a background check is an excellent way to avoid scams and other risks. 

  • Suspicions. If you moved to a new place and noticed that a couple from the room next door acts weird, asks inappropriate questions, or bothers your kids, consider running a criminal background search to know if you’re overthinking or there’s something to worry about. 

  • Self-check. It’s common for people to want to see their own criminals records to ensure the employee will not see anything out of the ordinary during the vetting process. 

If you want to check someone’s crime records for personal needs, obtaining consent is not necessary. Criminal records are considered to be public domain - by looking them up, you will not enter the privacy invasion territory. 

Professional background check

Checking a criminal record of an employee is stricter than doing so in a personal setting. The procedure of running a background check is fully regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act that is a part of Federal Law.

In a nutshell, these are the rules an employee has to follow before checking the criminal history of a job candidate:

  • A detailed description of the background check purposes;

  • A statement that confirms the candidate’s right to access all investigation documents;

  • Written consent if the background check requires medical information;

The rules will not apply only in case if the employer is investigating misconduct or other kinds of employee wrongdoing. 

Is It Legal to Track Criminal Records?

In a nutshell, tracking criminal records is absolutely legal, even without the other party knowing, as long as you are using the data for the purposes that don’t contradict the Federal and State laws. 

In case an employee is trying to put you on the spot and prove that criminal records search is illegal, take your time to research the federal and state law to debunk potential allegations. 

Federal Law

The background check procedure is regulated, among other bodies, by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The organ has the following policies employers have to comply with when background checking job candidates:

  • Treat all candidates unbiasedly and equally;

  • Withhold from trying to obtain a candidate’s genetical information;

  • Comply with the FCRA requirements;

  • Take factors like disabilities into account when judging the results of investigative reports. 

State laws

The rules for checking someone’s criminal records may vary by state. For instance, you will only be able to get someone’s criminal data for the last 7 years in the following states:

  • California;

  • Montana;

  • Massachusetts;

  • Kansas;

  • Maryland;

  • New Mexico;

  • Washington;

  • New Hampshire;

  • New York. 

Depending on the state, you will not be able to access a state resident’s non-conviction charges. Such include California, New York, New Mexico, and Kentucky. 

Background-checking criminal records outside of the US

International background checks normally have similar regulations and restrictions as those that take place in the United States. In most countries, the term ‘criminal record scanning’ encompasses a wide range of data on a person:

  • Tax fraud records;

  • Credit records;

  • Driving records;

  • Felony records. 

While scanning the criminal records outside the United States is legal, the process is quite time-consuming. It takes anywhere from 2 days to several weeks depending on the strictness of privacy laws in a given country. 

How to Find Criminal Records on Anyone?

Thanks to the growing popularity of professional and personal background checks, people-searching companies and the government make it easier to access someone’s criminal history. 

Here’s how you can run a criminal background check on anyone in no time for free:

1. Use online criminal record databases

Using national criminal databases is one of the fastest and most accurate ways to run employee criminal record checks. Such tools stem from the collaboration between the governmental bodies and private firms that help process the data and share it online. 

The most common examples of publicly accessible national criminal databases are the following ones:

Learning how to find criminal records using one of the databases is fast and easy - the only downside is the directories are updated on a semi-annual basis. There’s a risk of getting access to outdated information on a job candidate or prospective significant other. 

2. Request a copy of DBS records

Applying for the Disclosure and Barring Service is a hassle-free way to run a self-check of the criminal records. The rules for getting a copy of your police history are:

  • Reaching the age of 16;

  • Contacting the services from 8 AM to 11:30 PM;

  • Contacting an agency that maintains the criminal records in your place of residence. 

It takes 14 days to process a DBS request. In two weeks from sending a criminal records inquiry, you will be able to see the results of a criminal history search. 

3. Asking for police subject access

Anyone can make a subject access request to see their own criminal records. In case you are reaching out to see the personal information of a different person, have a written explanation of the purpose of your inquiry. 

If a parent wants to access the criminal records of a child, he has to demonstrate proof of consent and a description of his intentions regarding the data usage. 

Generally, the subject access is the most accurate way of finding out what information is held about you on the Police National Computer. 

4. Use people search engines

Finally, if you want to avoid dealing with bureaucracy, consider checking people’s background records via open-access databases like People-searching engines search criminal records on the top layers of the Internet, the social media, and the deep web, to provide companies and individuals with in-depth information on anyone’s criminal background. Most of the tools are free - some ask for an affordable fee for a background check. 

The good news is, using people search engines for scanning someone’s criminal records online is instant - there’s no need to wait for full days and weeks. 

How to Fix Mistakes on Criminal Records?

Criminal record databases are relatively new - as a result, business managers develop the industry standards and practices as they go. Due to the lack of data processing and storage skills or a basic human error, it’s quite common for employees to get erroneous background checks on employees. 

What to do if you ended up being on the other side of the issue - as a candidate who didn’t get a job due to being attached to a namesake’s crime? The good news is, once you found an error on the criminal records, it only takes a few days to correct it:

  • Get an official police report to ensure the data in an online record database is wrong;

  • Email the agency that posted erroneous information, attaching the official police report to the letter;

  • Wait for 60 days till the agency is investigating the issue;

  • In 60 days, the court will pronounce your records misleading, inaccurate, or incomplete, and remove them from databases. 


Q: How do I check my criminal record?

A: You can use a people-search engine for an instant crime record check or send a request for a subject request for an official statement from the police. Waiting for the approval will take 5-7 days. 

Q: Where do I go for a criminal background check?

A: Go to your local police department and ask officers to run a criminal record check on you. To run a background check on someone else, use public databases or people search engines. 

Q: How should my employees’ background check be conducted?

A: Most companies use a third-party employee screening agency to check the criminal records of a job candidate. 

Q: Is it legal to conduct background checks on my employees?

A: Generally, you can run a background check without a candidate’s consent if it doesn’t include accessing medical or genetic data. You will, however, have to specify the purposes of obtaining the data to the regulatory bodies that will perform the screening. 

Q: How long does it take to do a background check?

A: An official background check that involves accessing police records can take up to a week. Using background-check and people-search engines, you will be able to find criminal records in a few seconds.

Q: Do I need an employee’s permission to run a background check?

A: No, you don’t need consent to run a background check for employment-related purposes. 

Q: How do employers check criminal records?

A: They send a request to the police, hire a screening agency, or use public databases to get info on tax frauds, credit history, driving accidents, and felonies an employee has been found guilty of. 

The bottom line

An employee or a partner’s criminal record check is essential to create a relationship based on trust. The criminal record scanning includes getting the data from the police, driving safety, US terror watch, sex offender, and tax fraud registry. 

If you don’t want to rely on third-party agencies to run a background check, consider using an instant criminal records database. Websites like help access anyone’s criminal history, knowing as much as the person’s first and last name. 

Stay safe and respect people’s privacy when running background checks on others - this way, you’ll stay out of legal trouble.

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