How To Do a Background Check

Conducting Your Own Background Check

American citizens and employers are within their rights to run a background check on any individual. While it might seem tempting to use one of the many websites or services available to look up information, it is not a necessity. It is possible to conduct a background check personally and save on finding out information.

Ask for Identifying Information

While it is not always appropriate to ask an individual for some information, finding out a name, address and phone number is usually a matter of asking for the data. Potential employers, parents hiring a nanny or similar situations are appropriate times to ask for further details about the individual.

Employers or parents hiring a nanny can request a Social Security number, a full name, address, phone number, email and other personal information needed to conduct a background check on the individual. The identification information and details about where the person lives, how long the person lived at the address and a previous address are useful tools in finding out information.

Run an Online Search

Online search engines like Google and Yahoo can provide surprising results when looking for information on an individual. Typing in the person’s full name and state and then hitting the search icon will provide some information, though it is important to note that some duplicate names might appear.

An online search might provide social networking accounts, a personal blog, online journals or websites where the individual is mentioned, discussed or otherwise noted. In some situations, it might also bring up criminal records, mug shots, arrest information and similar details as a result of the name registered in public police records.

Search Social Networking Sites

Social networking websites can provide information that is unexpected. While it might not give details about a criminal record, it does provide information about the individual’s personality, common behaviors and public statements. Social networking sites have a wide range of individuals listed and many have active accounts that provide information to the public.

Ask for a Credit Report

A Social Security number is needed to run a credit report through the credit agencies. In some situations, the individual in question might provide a credit report or it might be necessary to obtain consent to review the report. This is not necessary in every situation and employers are allowed to pull up a credit report on potential employees before making a hiring decision.

The credit report will show details about payment history, the number of credit cards an individual owns, whether a bankruptcy occurred within the last 10 years and foreclosures within the last seven years. Bankruptcy and foreclosures are a sign that an individual might not be financially responsible and is not suitable for certain jobs.

Search Public Criminal Records

Criminal records are public data and anyone is allowed to search in police databases, state prison records and federal records relating to criminal activities. In some situations, it is necessary to look for data on the county level. This is possible with an address and full name of the individual.

In most cases, the state will have a criminal database. Unless the individual is convicted of a federal crime, the information is provided on the state level. Those who have information about a previous state will be able to search both state databases to ensure that a crime did not occur.

Look at Sex Offender Registries

Sex offender registries are usually provided on a statewide or countywide basis. Looking through the registries will make it possible to find out if the individual has conducted a sex crime and the particular details about the crime.

A sex offender registry is maintained for those who have been convicted of a sex crimes like rape or child molestation and have already served time for the crime. The registry provides information about who is the criminal and the address where the individual lives.

This is particularly necessary for employers who are hiring professionals to work with children, or parents hiring a babysitter.

Conducting a background check does not require hiring a professional. Those who are looking for specific information about an individual can conduct a search through public records and other background information personally. It is a legal right to access public records, though it might take a little time and effort to find all of the data relating to any individual.