How to Do a Background Check

By Danielle Smyth - Updated April 23, 2018
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Background checks are commonly conducted in advance of hiring, volunteer approval and firearm sales. Many agencies offer to perform background investigations, but it is also possible to conduct background checks on your own. Information turned up in free online sources may not always be reputable, so take care when relying on unverified data of that nature. If you are doing a background check on an applicant for employment, you will need to secure his written permission before proceeding.

Tip

If you are conducting a background check on someone else, obtain permission in writing and rely on results provided by a reputable agency, such as a member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, if possible. You may also conduct a background check on yourself for free, with information available on the internet.

How to Do a Background Check on an Employee

The simplest way to conduct a background check on an employee is to hire a service to conduct it for you. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your background check must use a Consumer Reporting Agency. This is because consumer reporting agencies are required to have certain dispute resolution policies and information storage and security.

There are many small businesses that conduct background investigations for a fee using information provided by Consumer Reporting Agencies. If you are hiring an agency of this kind, check to see that the company is a member of a reputable organization like the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.

How to Do a Background Check on Myself for Free

A number of websites offer free searches akin to those conducted during a background check. You can search your address history, employment history, educational background and sex offender status on the internet for free. You should consider the source very carefully before acting upon any information found online, however.

Once a year, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major United States CRAs (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). This credit report will reveal only information related to loans, bankruptcies, liens and judgments.

For a fee, it is possible to conduct other searches on yourself via paid searches on sites like IRBSearch.com and TLO.com, presented by TransUnion.

Can You Do a Background Check on Yourself?

It is possible to conduct a background check on yourself. While these checks are not always free, many online services permit you to conduct checks of your driving record, court records or credit reports. If you are hoping to conduct a credit check, be sure you maximize your free reports each year before paying for any. As with any internet searches, take care to verify the validity of a site via the Better Business Bureau or consumer reviews before you enter personal information or payment details. A quick search for reviews of a paid informational site can save you trouble later if the site turns out to offer less than advertised.

Do Expunged Cases Show Up on a Background Check?

If records are expunged, it means that they are sealed. Any records that have been expunged by a court or judge will not show up on a background check. This is true regardless of what the records were and how long ago the incidents occurred. If you have a background check conducted and the records do appear, you have a right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to request a new background check. You may also need to contact the sentencing court to discuss why the records were not sealed as promised. It is also possible that the information was released to an agency who performed a background check before the records were expunged. In some instances, you actually need to submit proof of expungement and a request to any agencies or databases that share court information once the record is sealed to prevent its appearance in future background checks.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a content writer and social media marketer from upstate New York. Her company, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, services clients in a variety of industries.

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