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Background Check FAQ

What are the advantages of conducting an online background check?
Online background checks offer you the opportunity to quickly gather important public records' information about people of interest so that you can safely build trusted connections. This is an ideal search to run on a potential online date, neighbor, roommate, or new friend. Online background checks are advantageous because they allow you to verify facts, discover new information, and make more educated decisions about people based on their public records' background history. Additionally, online background checks can be beneficial to search and find what information is included in your own public records background report.
What records are included in online background checks?
Online background checks include a variety of public records, such as criminal records, birth records, marriage records, divorce records, death records, court records, business licenses, bankruptcy filings, tax liens, real estate appraisals, sex offender status, and voter registration records. Some reports will disclose credit information and driving records. Each state determines which records are private or public so the information available in each report could vary.
What is the best way to start searching for background checks?
It is a good idea to start with a broad online search to discover basic information about the person in question. Try a common search engine like Google or social networking sites. Identify general information like their name and a city they lived in. You'll want to organize your search by state to narrow down results. From there, you can input this information into an online background check website to find the records you're looking for.
Does everything a person has been charged with appear on a criminal background check?
All convicted felonies and misdemeanors are included in a criminal background check. An offense would not be on a report if the charges were dropped, even if the person was arrested. Traffic violations are also included. However, traffic violations and other minor misdemeanors would not be on the report if a pardon was issued or a first time offender fee was paid.
What is an FBI background check?
This refers to a local search. Local law enforcement agencies receive records from the centralized FBI database. However, most U.S. citizens do not have access to directly search FBI records themselves. Instead, they find the information that has been passed down to state, city, and county offices.
Is it possible to run a federal criminal records check?
There are state-organized resources that can search for information on federal crimes. However, a federal criminal background check can only disclose cases from specific federal district court records. These searches must be performed separately, as FBI records are not accessible to non-law enforcement. Criminal charges on a federal level only include crimes that involve multiple state boundaries or crimes committed on government property.
What is the legality of an online background check?
There is nothing illegal about running a background check, as non-public records and public records can be openly searched in most states. The only exception would be private records, which are illegal to search or use without proper authorization. Credit reports are private documents that must be requested from a legitimate business and with the written or implied consent of the user. Therefore, requesting employment or an application for credit, would be considered permission to run a credit check. Background checks for employment purposes must be obtained through an FCRA-compliant service.
What is the difference between conducting an online background check and hiring a private investigator?
An online background check can return nearly all of the same non-public information as a PI can legally investigate. While a private investigator can do localized researching, an increasing number of online background searches can provide you with the same information. Private investigators tend to charge more money since you are paying an hourly wage and not just a flat rate for the record that you need.
Are all background checks completely accurate?
It is very difficult for all background checks to be completely accurate. People can lie, change aspects of their identity, and provide incorrect information with relative ease. There are some instances where a search may return inaccurate results, such as another person by the same name. This can be avoided by including additional identifiers, such as middle name, age, city, etc.
Can I use SnoopStation to run a background check online for a new job candidate?
SnoopStation is not an FCRA-compliant background screening service. This means that SnoopStation cannot be used to conduct background checks related to employment eligibility, credit, insurance, or other uses prohibited by the FCRA. Employers must use an FCRA-compliant background screening company such as GoodHire.com.
Is it possible to get a background check for free?
A background check pulls information from a wide variety of sources. Some of it is available for free if you want to put in the effort and wait for the results. You can contact your local government agencies to find information. These agencies vary by state but usually include the Sex Offender Registry, Department of Justice, Department of Corrections, and the Administrative Office of Courts. It can take a few days up to a few weeks to receive your requested information. If you do not want to go through the hassle of contacting each individual organization and waiting for results, you can use an online background check service to find results in minutes. The online service may require signing up for a free trial or paying a nominal fee. Some online services provide free contact reports without requiring sign up or nominal fees until you decide to upgrade to a full background report.
What is the best type of criminal background check to run?
The best type of criminal background check can vary based on the type of information you are looking for. Many services offer a comprehensive report as their premiere option. This is most likely your best option if you're looking for extensive information. Make sure that your report includes county, criminal, and civil court records. Many counties have not yet digitized their records but some online background check services will send a court-runner to obtain these records directly.
How long do search results take for a comprehensive criminal background check?
Since there is no centralized way of delivering information, timing can vary based on the amount and type of information requested. Some online websites offer very fast results, since the records are already digitized and stored in their database. You can purchase the record and view it immediately. However, other cases are more complex and may require searching courthouses, property notices, and additional processes. These types of records are not usually included in one database and may require additional time to collect. This could potentially delay your results and you may have to wait 1-3 days for your comprehensive report.
Where is the information coming from?
Public records searches utilize dozens of databases and offer access to millions of public records. Results are compiled from multiple sources including vital records, government databases, courthouses, and more. Remember to choose a reputable site to conduct your search. Some public search sites use low quality sources that return limited information that is oftentimes outdated and inaccurate.
How far back do the records go?
Technically speaking, records can go back multiple generations. However, some information only stays on a public record for 7 years. This is how long most bad financial data stays on a credit report. Civil cases, arrest records, collections and paid tax liens have a statute of limitations and cannot be kept on record after 7 years. Bankruptcy data stays on record for 10 years. Some records are included indefinitely, such as sex offender status.
What are the most important identifiers when doing a search?
Try to find as much identifying information as possible before running a search. Try to acquire a person's full name, date of birth, a city that they lived in, and the state they are currently in. If possible, try to find any information regarding a crime committed, charges, and court dates. These identifiers help ensure that you obtain an accurate background check for the correct person.
Can running a background check keep my household safe?
Conducting a background check is a great way to help ensure that your children are surrounded by people who have their best interests in mind. In addition to sex offender and criminal records checks, you can also find resources that include neighborhood crime statistics and maps of where offenders live. Background checks can also help you make informed decisions about the people in your life including neighbors, dates, and new friends.
What happens when I want to search for a hyphenated name or a maiden/married name on a criminal background check?
In this instance, you may need to conduct a search for each name. Sometimes individuals create records with only one name. This is why many forms and applications require all aliases to be listed. In the case of a woman with a new married name, you may have to search for the husband and use the identifiers on his record. For instance, you can use the husband's current address to search for his wife's updated information.
How often are records updated for online background checks?
Different sources update their records at different times. Certain sources can take as long as six months to update an old address. On the other hand, court records are updated quickly. Death records and divorce records take longer because of the required paperwork. It's important to find a background check service that updates its records continuously to ensure you are receiving the most accurate information.

Public Records Resources by State