7 Seemingly Small Things That Will Show up in a Background Check

Background checks help employers and landlords deduce your character and whether or not you’re responsible with your finances. Most people know that background checks show any criminal activity you’ve participated in, where you’ve lived over time, and what your credit score looks like. However, you may not realize just how extensive a background check can be. Some of the activity reported on a background check may come from things you’d consider to be petty. You may be overlooking certain infringements that have severe, negative impacts. Understanding what type of information is provided to your potential employer or landlord can be very helpful when moving forward in the process.

  1. Social Media Faux Pas

    A company called “Social Intelligence” has profited over executing social media background checks on potential employees for companies using their service. This type of background check shows any questionable behavior you’ve partaken in online through a thorough sweep of your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, and any other place on the internet they can dig up associated with your name. If you had some particularly rowdy college years, it’s best to take down any photos that may give them cause for an eyebrow raise. Many companies do their own, unofficial social media background checks via their IT department, so even if you aren’t asked directly to participate in one, your online presence will still probably be gauged before you’re accepted for a job.

  2. Dropped Charges

    If you have broken the law in some way, even if the charges have been dropped, it is probable to show up in some criminal background checks. Some jobs will require you to show documentation in the event that a background check pulls up such information. For example, the Arkansas State Board of Nursing requires all individuals seeking a license to get a criminal background check. If the individual in question has pleaded guilty, nolo contendere, or been found guilty of any of the offenses, they will not be issued a license. Supplying the proper documentation can help your case, but certain jobs such as this will take strict action on any suspicious activity.

  3. Public Urination

    Believe it or not, but public urination can land you on the sex offender registry. For any male who has emptied their bladder drunkenly outside of a bar, this can mean not getting a job in the future, as being a registered sex offender will most definitely show up on a background check. The unfortunate fact is that child rape and public urination are lumped into the same category, regardless of whether sexual deviance was even involved. To avoid a potentially humiliating and career-shattering charge, keep bathroom related activity where it belongs — in the bathroom.

  4. Broken Leases

    If you have previously broken a lease on an apartment or house, it can have serious consequences. Breaking a lease, much like not paying credit card bills, will dismantle your credit and could make it very difficult to rent a house or apartment in the future. Landlords will be less trustful of you, as you have broken your contract in the past and thus are likely to do it again in their eyes. In some cases, breaking a lease could be your only option. You may lose a job and not be able to afford the rent or find that the community you live in is simply unsafe and thus not worth waiting out the lease agreements. In some cases, you can assign your lease to someone else, but then you may still be responsible for any damages incurred on the property.

  5. Reposessed Cars

    While not on par with foreclosing a home, having your car repossessed can harm your credit and negatively impact how your background check is perceived. It makes you look irresponsible with your money, which is not necessarily a positive quality. In most cases, a creditor must go to court before they can take your property. However, if the car is your security item in a written agreement with a creditor, they can repossess it without going to court so long as it’s on public property at the time of repossession. The creditor can then report your financial irresponsibility to credit-reporting agencies, which in turn reflect the information on reports that are made available to other creditors, landlords, and employers.

  6. Library Book Fines

    It may seem like a tiny infraction, but not paying your library fines can affect your credit score, which will be detailed on some background checks. If you’ve held onto a book for years without realizing it, the library may report your debt to collection agencies who will report your debt to the bureaus after administering their own additional fees and penalties. Thus, your local library can make it hard for you to get a job or rent an apartment over that old, roughed up copy of Huck Finn.

  7. Someone Else’s Crimes

    Occasionally, glitches in the system occur, and this can have devastating consequences when it comes to getting your background checked. As background checks become more digitized, the margin for error becomes wider, and this can result in people with the same names being mixed up for one another in a background check. If the other person’s report shows criminal activity or unpaid debts, it can reflect poorly on you. Sadly, even if this error is caught and a government agency wipes your record clean again, many commercial databases with background reports don’t update their system to show your new, unmarred record. Thus, someone else’s background identity can haunt you your entire life.