What Information Shows up in a Background Check?
The information that will be available to you when you conduct a background check can vary from state to state. However in most cases, whatever information that is available on public record can be accessed as well. For employment purposes, most employers or third party investigators will run a Social Security Number scan to verify basic information such as name, address, and age. A Social Security scan will also turn up all an individual’s previous street addresses and places of residence. Social Security scans are completed through E-Verify, an Internet-based tool developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. E-verify is used mainly for employment verification purposes, especially for confirming information job applicants present on applications. If false information is given on a job application or in an interview, most of it can be confirmed or denied with a Social Security Number scan.
For background checks beyond employment verification, private investigators and other fact checkers can locate information in a variety of ways. Credit reports are another source often used in a background check. Like a social security number scan, credit reports can confirm previous addresses, in addition to providing evidence regarding an individual’s current financial situation and how fiscally responsible they are. In addition to employers, credit checks are usually conducted by property managers and landlords.
Some of the other information you can expect to find included in most standard background checks includes:
- Driving and vehicle records
- Criminal records
- Education records
- Court and legal records
- Property ownership
- Military and discharge records
- Past employers
- Personal/character references
- Incarceration records
- Sex offender registries
- Citizenship status
One of the easiest ways to check into someone’s background is through social media and Internet searches. These can reveal a plethora of information that many people are not even aware is available for all to see. For example, suppose an insurance company is asked to investigate the plaintiff with a serious neck injury caused by a car accident. The insurance company can investigate the legitimacy of the claim by running a background check on the plaintiff. Is the plaintiff who he says he is? This can be verified with a Social Security scan. Does the plaintiff have a history of filing similar claims? This can be answered by viewing his court records. How serious is the plaintiff’s injury? If recent Facebook photos of the plaintiff skiing and dancing disputes the legitimacy of the plaintiff’s claim, the plaintiff could lose the case as well as his or her credibility.
It is important to be aware of privacy protection laws. For example, most medical records are off limits in background checks out of respect for an individual’s right to privacy. Additionally, the information found in a background check cannot legally be used for discriminate hiring practices, and any information from before seven years prior cannot influence a hiring decision. This is because background checks for employment purposes can only check the last seven years of an applicant’s records. When running a background check for personal reasons or without professional assistance, it is best to search through public records (which are usually free) or through social media channels. This information is currently available to the public, although lawsuits have resulted from some of the invasion of privacy issues that social media presents.
Finally, FBI fingerprinting checks are typically done by schools and facilities that care for the elderly and the very young. This type of check reveals nationwide information about arrests in any state. Due to this type of background check usually being costly, it is usually only performed by employers at schools, health care facilities, or with job positions that deal with high job security and confidentiality.