Doing a background check doesn’t require any FBI-level skills these days. All official and trivial methods come into play, from social to criminal records directory. Online sources provide us with a remarkable choice of data. Dedication is all it takes.
A background check is a process of searching for criminal records, employment history, personal data, commercial and financial information, and other kinds of information. It can be done by an employer who’s curious about a potential employee’s reliability, or a government official who does an inspection.
Reasons To Do Background Check
The motivations for doing an online background check vary a ton - that’s no surprise, considering how available it’s become lately. There is one thing to understand, however - even though information collection became more accessible, it has also never been easier to fake any kind of data. Graphic editors provide tools for altering images, social media allows creating any kind of image, and web pages can be hacked.
That’s why a background check isn’t now a government competence, but a day-to-day necessity - you never know whether the presented data isn’t “fake news”. A background check is the simplest way to assure a person’s reliability, settling questions once and for all.
When should be background check used?
Assessing the competence of your employee or partner - it’s the most common reason for a background check. This is how you can know that a potential job candidate has the mentioned education or references.
Determining the trustworthiness of a company or organization - if you are choosing a job or a partnership, you want to assure that you are not putting your future in the incompetent hands.
Verifying CV information - sometimes, people provide fake work experience and fabricate their portfolios. Looking for the truth is the only way to be sure.
Identifying and preventing potential security risks, caused by an unreliable employee - if you have a suspicion that your current team member is unreliable, it’s better to cross off these concerns before the real damage is done;
Checking candidates for jobs with special safety concerns - healthcare, education, military, finance companies need to take special care at assuring their employees’ honesty.
A background check is usually conducted for professional purposes, but it’s not limited to these situations. You can conduct a simple background check before starting a relationship or sharing an important secret. Whenever the stakes are getting high - background check is a safe deal.
What Is A Background Check?
There is a common misconception about a background check - most people think that it’s limited to simply looking up criminal records. While that, indeed, is the most important part, it’s not the only aspect of the procedure. Screenings can collect any kind of legally or financially important data, as long as you have legal access to it.
What data can be obtained via the background check?
Criminal history - this search is conducted on government directories and databases. You check whether an employee, stakeholder, or trusted person hasn’t committed a crime or being wanted internationally.
Arrest records - these are not the same as criminal records. Arrest records mean that a person was suspected to commit a crime, but wasn’t necessarily convicted. Still, for some job positions, it could create a legal issue.
Reference check - this is a crucial job-related procedure where an employer is contacting the authors of reviews and recommendations to verify their legitimacy;
Civil history checks - it’s an in-depth kind of criminal checks on a county level that allows getting detailed updates on a local misdemeanor.
Of course, these are not the only kinds of information that you can get - we’ll talk about it more while reviewing background check methods. Still, you get the idea - a background check report has a broad application, hugely depending on the purpose.
Is Background Check Legal?
In the United States, personal information lookup is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, also known as FCRA. According to the policy, you have to obtain written consent from the person, especially in the case of a job request.
In the UK and Europe, the laws regarding background checks are similar. If you want to request information that isn’t publically available, you need to get consent first and provide the employee with a copy of the data, obtained during the check.
How Does Background Check Work?
There are times when you’d rather not disclose your intentions to conduct a background check. Is there any way to collect accessible information without requesting consent?
Both yes and no- the best back one hand, publically available criminal directories, social media, and search engine data can provide you with a full profile. On the other hand, you need to be sure that you don’t store this data or accidentally share it with a third-party.
The safest background search methods
Let’s take a look at superficial and in-depth research ways of a background check. We analyzed the most universal sources - and the ones that require the least documentation, too.
Criminal record lookup sources can be official and private. Both are legal, as long as the employer doesn’t discriminate against the employee on religion, race, nationality, color, or gender. The most common destinations for criminal record lookup are the following ones:
Court clerk’s offices. Crime convictions are public events, and every American citizen has a right to request this information without beforehand consent. All you need is to contact your local court clerk, providing a person’s name.
Access To Criminal History websites. Some states have public databases with criminal files - like Pennsylvania.
Public information request. Each state has own address and contact number to which you can submit the letter. You can look for this information on the Freedom Of Information databases.
Criminal background check online - the fastest method of conducting a background check. Register an account, leave a request - and you’ll have a detailed profile on your hands in an hour.
We recommend starting your background check with criminal records search. For one thing, it’s the main concern - who cares about references if there is a conviction chance? Also, this data is accessible publically, and can even be obtained for free.
The second simplest background check method is looking up a social media account. This is a less reliable source - a person can create any kind of fake social reality. However, it’s also the closest we can get to the inside look at a person’s life without crossing legal boundaries.
What to remember before background-checking online profiles
You can legally access Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other social media profile;
Start by taking a look at the friend list and examine whether the person’s contacts are legit;
Remember that an employee might see your activities by using some advanced activity tracker - other networks, like LinkedIn, directly show profile views;
There is a risk of discrimination suspicions - an employee can imply that you refused a postin due to personal detailed, disclosed on the page - orientation, political views, or family details.
Social media check is a superficial method, but it’s also a tried-and-proven one. The employee will hardly be surprised to know that you visited a social media page - however, this practice might cast a shadow on your decision making.
Character reference checker background
This background check is slightly different from a job reference check. You are looking to get in touch with people who know the employee outside of professional life as well. The list can include friends, family members, teachers, co-workers, and past clients. These people provide information not as much about professional activities, rather about personal qualities.
Proof of Address
Financial organizations and banks often require address validation. Most often, you need to provide an official document or receive an mail. Here is the list of documents that serve as a valid proof of address.
A bank statement obtained not earlier than 3 months ago;
Utility bill documents with specified residential property address;
Letter from an official organization or government sent correspondence;
Lease documents with 3-months rent receipt;
House purchase document.
You can contact a financial organization or billing company to request a person’s data. However, this information is considered confidential and requires written consent.
This type of check determines whether a person is reliable financially. It’s often used to verify a business partner or service provider. If the person is required to pay off significant amounts, this information might be publically available on the websites of banks and financial organizations. Check local banks’ websites and contact the administrator. However, if the information isn’t publically available, you need to get consent first as well.
Who can do an instant background check?
Anyone with permission, provided by the person who will be checked. Usually, it’s an employee, business partner, stakeholder, or a contractor.
Should I get consent before conducting a check?
Yes, it’s required by the U.S and European law.
What kind of information can I request for a background check?
You can request criminal and arrest records personal history financial records, driving checks, and reference verification. If you need additional information, you need to request permission, too.
Is background check free?
Government organizations require a fee for this kind of administrative procedures - they depend on your state and city. Private services, however, have free demo versions, where you can get a basic background check profile.
How can an employer check employees?
The first step is to request the employee’s consent after you determined the type of data that you want to collect. Then, you have to contact the local clerk of courts to collect criminal and arrest data. Secondary steps may include checking social media, contacting people who provided references and past workplaces. Additionally, you can check financial, education, and driving history.
Is background check legal in the US?
Yes, it is, if you either use publically available information or have written consent for any kind of private data. It’s also important that the employer doesn’t discriminate against an employee based on race, religion, gender, family situation, or other personal factors.
Can background checks be used in the European Union?
Yes, but you need to provide an employee with a copy of all the collected data. Also, an employee should be aware of how all collected data is obtained and stored.
What’s the best background check website to start?
You can start a background check from publically available criminal directories if you want to conduct a criminal records search first. The shortest way is to go to private background services, that search or all kinds of available information, not just legal one.
The bottom line
A background check is a common method of getting personal legal, financial, and professional information on an employee, partner, contractor, or acquaintance. You can freely search for publically available information - government directories, white page,s search services - it’s entirely legal.
However, as soon as you are requesting confidential information, you need to notify the search target about the background check and the required information. As soon as you respect these rules, you are perfectly safe from any legal measures.