A private individual can get free background checks from online resources, as well as by contacting the court directly. This right is granted by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Typically, online background check resources lead to municipal and state court databases of public records.
There are many reasons why an individual might want to conduct a background check on another person, such as vetting a potential tenant or learning more about somebody she met through a dating app. If you're wondering how to get a free background check, there are numerous resources online that make it easy to access others’ criminal records.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Look at private websites for free background checks. Many offer free trials or one-time-use trials to their customers.
Online Resources for Background Checks
When you search using the phrase “how to get free background checks online,” you will find many websites offering free online background checks. These websites include, but are not limited to:
The more information you have about the person, the more effectively you can search for his criminal background online. This information can be taken from social media, search engine inquiries or even from news stories or conversations about him. Helpful information to have on hand for your search includes:
- Name and any known aliases or previous names the person has used.
- Current city of residence.
- Any cities and states he has lived in previously.
Other information that can be helpful in your search includes:
- Height, weight and race.
- Driver’s license number.
- Date of birth.
- Personally identifying characteristics, like tattoos or physical impediments.
- The nature of the offense or alleged offense.
Free Background Check for a Sex Offender
Finding information about an individual’s previous sexual convictions can be easier than finding information about any other types of arrests or convictions thanks to Megan’s Law, the 1996 federal law that requires convicted sex offenders to register with state databases. By searching the sex offender registry for the state where the subject currently lives, you can find information such as the date of the offense, the specific charge for which the person was convicted and any relevant details about the offense, like the age of the victim.
Get Free Background Checks From the Court
When you conduct a search for how to get free background checks online, many of the returns will direct you to court databases. If you already know or suspect the city or state where the individual was arrested or convicted, you can save yourself time by going right to that city or state’s public record database and searching for the individual. Many cities and states have publicly accessible databases online, though some do not. When there is no online data base, contact the court directly to learn how to access information about a previous arrest or conviction recorded by that court.
Information about an individual’s criminal record is public record, so you have the right to access it as a private citizen. Keep in mind that under certain circumstances, an individual may have an arrest expunged from his record or a conviction sealed. This means that even if you do get a free background check, you cannot view information about the expunged or sealed incident.
Budget for More Information
Although you can get free background checks using online resources, you will find that with many of these resources, certain information is only available to users who agree to pay for it. The cost to access additional background information on your search subject could be as low as $10 or as much as $50 or more, depending on the resource you use and the nature of the information you're seeking.
Information about an individual’s arrest and conviction record can be found through court websites, but by using a private online resource, you'll save yourself the time and hassle of combing through these websites yourself. While searching for how to get a free background check, keep this point in mind and remember that if you want certain information fast, you might have to pay for it.