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There is no official definition of the term “background check,” but most people understand it to be an investigation of a person’s background. The type of information included in a background check depends on the type of background check that is being performed. Because there are no industry standards regarding the labeling of types of background checks, these different types might go by different names according to their companies.
Basic background checks use publicly available information that is easy to access to provide very generic
information about people. In fact, you can often complete this type of background check on your own, simply
by using an internet search engine to find information on an individual. However, while these basic
background checks may reveal some information, they are often not deep enough to address the questions and
concerns that cause a person to run a background check in the first place.
A more in-depth background check goes beyond basic identifying information. It may examine a person’s
criminal history, looking beyond criminal convictions to determine if a person has previously been accused of
criminal behavior. It may look at a person’s civil legal history, to examine marriages, divorces, child
support orders, and other legal judgments. And sometimes these background checks may include information on
birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorces, and death certificates.
The core of BeenVerified background checks are public records searches. It might help you verify a person is
who he or she claims to be, and that the given details about a person’s life match up with the details he or
she is providing you. Furthermore, because most people leave a public record footprint, a BeenVerified
background check will often reveal a person’s current address and phone number, prior addresses, email
addresses, and possibly other people or family members who may have lived with the person. Recently, we’ve
included social media records in our background checks. You may also find information about a person’s
criminal history in a BeenVerified background check.
Credit checks are another type of popular background check. They detail whether a person has defaulted on
credit obligations, and include information like foreclosures, bankruptcies, divorces, slow-pays, and
no-pays. While credit-checks are usually done by potential lenders before extending credit to an individual,
they are also used by employers and insurance companies. Given that there have been numerous data breaches
recently, it is important for individuals to regularly run credit checks on their own information, in order
to detect identity theft.
A criminal background check focuses on examining a person’s criminal history. It looks for a history of any
criminal convictions. If any other type of background check reveals aliases, a complete background check will
not only focus on the main identity, but also on any assumed identities. Some criminal background checks will
only reveal convictions, while others will detail any crimes that have been charged. Some background checks
may even reveal if a person was investigated for a crime, even if no charges were ever filed. However, there
are limitations on criminal background checks. For example, unless performed by law enforcement agencies for
law enforcement purposes, most criminal background checks will not display any juvenile criminal history.
Fingerprint checks are another level of background check. First, they help verify that a person is who he or
she claims to be. If the fingerprints are run and match another identity, there is clearly a problem. In
addition, they are often checked against state and federal databases to ensure that the individual in
question is not identified by fingerprint as a suspect in any crimes. Fingerprint tests are relatively
expensive, so they are not a routine part of most background examinations. However, if a job requires you to
work with children or other vulnerable populations, if you would be in a position of trust, or if you are
completing a home-study for an adoption or to become a foster parent, a fingerprint check will probably be
part of your background check.
Really thorough background checks, such as the kind some government agencies perform in order to determine
security clearance for workers, may even go beyond a person’s official record and investigate that person’s
friends and acquaintances. Private individuals may occasionally seek this type of background investigation
about another person. That would usually occur in the context of some type of dispute where background became
critical, such as a custody battle or other legal dispute.
A background check can take a matter of seconds or a substantially longer period of time, depending on how
in-depth the background check is and how much of a visible footprint the person being checked has. A basic
background test can generally be completed within a few minutes. With BeenVerified, you can run our basic
background checks in a few seconds.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act 15 U.S.C.S. § 1681 et seq., (FCRA) is a federal law that governs how some types
of background information can be used. It also dictates what types of background agencies can be used for
certain information. For example, while landlords and employers can use background check information when
making employment or tenancy decisions, if you intend to do so, you need to ensure that you are using an FCRA
compliant background check agency. Please see our Do’s
& Dont's for permitted and prohibited uses.
You can get a background check in a number of different ways, including using a number of online background
check services, such as BeenVerified. If the reason for your background check is covered under the FCRA, then
you must use a FCRA compliant source. In addition, if you are required to get a background check as a
condition of employment or volunteering, you will want to check with the organization or employer to ensure
that you are following their procedures and using one of their approved resources.