A background check is a detailed investigation into a person’s history to help make a decision about the individual. This article provides an overview of the various types of background checks, the information included in a typical report, and a list of companies who provide the services. In addition, we’ll cover the best background check service providers that you can run online with just a few clicks.
Types of Background Checks
Background checks and investigation reports come in a variety of different forms. Most commonly, background checks are run as part of a pre-employment screening to help a company evaluate an applicant’s history and work experience. This helps the employer make informed hiring decisions and reduce negligent hiring liability.
A gun background check is used when an individual tries to purchase a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is responsible for licensing all dealers. All dealers are required to run a check on the purchaser through the FBI. The buyer has to provide their ID and fill out form known as ATF Form 4473, which collects personal information. The dealer can submit the information via the phone or online, and can get a response in a few minutes.
Nanny background checks can be used in making hiring decisions for nanny’s, caregivers, babysitters, etc. The types of data and information pulled together for this type of history check doesn’t differ from any other. However, the information is scrutinized more closely, because it will be used to hire someone to protect one’s children.
Self background checks. Proactive job seekers can use the resources below to get a copy of their own reports. It is better to know what is in your own report. That way, you’ll be prepared for questions from potential employers.
Date checkups (to learn more about the person you’re dating). This is another popular trend. Anyone can use an online background check service to do a reference check on a prospective mate. Truly, we can all make better dating decisions knowing our mate’s criminal, employment and financial history.
Business Background Checks
Business background checks allow you to learn about companies before doing work with them by performing a comprehensive search on the corporation. The process can be used to determine if they have filed for bankruptcy, who has liens against their assets, and if they are a legally operating company.checking into business licenses, OSHA violations, litigation, credit check, liens and judgments.
In addition, business background checks will search SEC records (if a publicly traded company), Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce in the city, consumer complaints, products and services, reputation, legal status, industry, major competitor and finally a criminal check or the owners or officers of the company.
What is included in a typical report?
Most background checks involve some combination of the following:
Identity Verification such as: First and last name, social security number, marital status, former residences.
Criminal Background Check or Criminal history check including criminal record, arrest records and court records.
Financial / Credit History Check including credit history, liens and judgments. In cases where the person may deal with money or financial services, the company may pull a credit history report.
Employment History Verification including work experience, personal references and more.
Verify Education History and academic credentials, degrees and diplomas, schools and universities.
Driving records and driving history or DMV records check help to determine if the candidate is a responsible driver.
Other Potential Search Items
- Social media search
- Death record retrieval such as death certificates and obituary search
- Marriage and divorce verification or confirmation
- Miscellaneous public record retrieval
- Professional license search
- Real estate records, property ownership reports
- Reverse lookups for phone numbers, addresses and emails
Other key data points confirm such things as membership in various organizations, political affiliations, ethnic profile and religion. However, these cannot be used in making a hiring decision.
In some cases, screening companies may go further than merely pulling reports. Additional steps may include a drug test and speaking with personal references. In cases where the person may be working with children, the company may conduct a sex offender registry search. Of course, if someone is applying for a position in the military, a military service history check will be necessary.
How Much Do Background Checks Cost?
The cost of reports and verification services vary widely. In general, you will need to contact the provider directly to get pricing information. In most cases, pricing will be either a subscription model (with monthly or annual charges) or fixed pricing. Some companies offer a “pay per report” option as well. Be sure to understand the cost and fees involved before purchasing. If you are working with a private eye, get a quote up front for all fees. Several of the search options below offer packages starting as low as $10.
List of Online Background Check Service Providers
Use the following background check services or public records search companies now. There are three sites that make ordering investigation Reports for Background Checks and Public Records an easy process: BeenVerified, Intelius and Spokeo. The information and data provided by these three services will satisfy the basic needs of most individuals.
BeenVerified Background Check
BeenVerified’s online Background Check Report allows you to search billions of public records online in just a few seconds. Search for criminal records, arrest records, bankruptcies and more. In addition, you can find people using address, phone number and email lookups. BeenVerified offers an easy and affordable way to run a background check.
Intelius Background Check
The Intelius Background Check report can potentially provide a plethora of information about a person, including (when available) criminal records, marriage/divorce records, lawsuits, liens, bankruptcies, property records, addresses, phone numbers, relatives and neighbors, matching people search results, and more.
An Intelius Criminal Records search will locate available criminal records (felonies, misdemeanors, DUIs, etc.) nationwide or in a specific state. A report may include (when available) offense type and date, court name, case number, outcome of the charges, and more. Le
An Instant People Search report searches through billions of records to find a current and unlisted number and address. Search by maiden name, SSN, or by phone number.
The Intelius Reverse phone lookup search tool helps you verify a phone number and address. In most cases, it works with landline, unlisted and non-published numbers, and cell phone numbers. The Reverse Phone Lookup pulls information associated with a registered phone number to give you the data you are looking for. All you need to supply is the number. The report may include (if available): phone type and carrier, owner’s name, location, address history, age, relatives, and more. Satisfy your curiosity, and look up that mysterious number today. Read our full Intelius review.
Spokeo People Search
Spokeo is a people search service that organizes information about people into simple and comprehensive online profiles that are accessible to consumers, businesses, and non-profits. Spokeo is a search tool that aggregates information from a variety of different sources. It acts like a search engine to organize White Pages listings, Public Records and Social Network Information to help you safely find & learn about people. Read our full review of Spokeo.
Read this helpful article that explains how to get a copy of a police report. Laws vary widely regarding the availability of police reports. The availability of a police report often depends on whether the case is open or closed. Learn how to get a copy of a police report.
Real Estate and Property Reports
Real Estate Reports are available that provide basic information on real estate properties including residential real estate, commercial real estate, institutional, community buildings, land and much more. You can lookup Properties by Address on Intelius.
Private investigators are often called upon to conduct research related to real estate including residential properties, small businesses, commercial real estate, community buildings and other structures. In many cases, Private investigators may be hired to find the information, such as part of a surveillance project, or they may need to gather the information for their own purposes. In such situations, detectives rely on a variety of information sources such as:
- Public records available at the county court house that will show property details, ownership information and other data
- Public records searches available through the companies listed above (or others)
- Additionally, search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing can provide quick access to publicly available information, photos, videos and more.
- Online real estate and property information tools such as Realtor.com, Trulia, or Zillow
List of Companies that do Background Checks
Many companies use database information providers, investigation software or other online services to conduct public record searches and information verification. Many background screening companies and even private investigators purchase access to the same online databases. This allows them to lookup records for clients and pull reports. Following is a list of companies that do background checks.
Accurint – Now owned by LexisNexis is a locate-and-research tool available to government, law enforcement and commercial customers. Its proprietary data-linking technology returns search results in seconds to the user’s desktop. Accurint’s key features include:
- People Search locates neighbors, associates and possible relatives
- Track down phone numbers not typically available to increase your chances of finding your subject. Access over 50,000,000 non-directory assistance records, including cell phone numbers
- People at Work links more than 132 million individuals to businesses and includes information such as business addresses, phone numbers, and possible dates of employment
- Link individuals with businesses, addresses, relatives and vehicles
- Advanced Person Search helps find individuals when only old or fragmented data is available
Accurint is at http://www.accurint.com/.
Clear for Investigations – CLEAR is an investigative platform from Thomson Reuters designed for professionals who need information about individuals and companies. The CLEAR background check service provides fast access to a vast collection of public and proprietary records, CLEAR helps you find out about people and their connections.. http://legalsolutions.thomsonreuters.com/law-products/solutions/clear-investigation-software.
Data-Trac Online Investigative Network – Data-Trac allows users to conduct searches such as residence history, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) searches, Social security ,etc.) for licensed private investigators, corporate security departments, attorneys, & human resource departments.
EasyBackgrounds provides Criminal Check services, Employee Check services, employee work history review, and pre-employment screening services to help companies hire honest and qualified employees. https://www.easybackgrounds.com/.
Employment History Verification – EmployeeScreen provides pre-employment screening services for employers. http://www.employeescreen.com/.
IntelliCorp – A nationwide provider of employment screening products and services. Provides services such as SSN Verification, Criminal Records, Motor Vehicle Reports, Drug Testing. https://www.intellicorp.net/marketing/home.aspx.
IRBSearch customers can search billions of records not always available in public databases. IRBsearch helps locate missing persons, verify identity, comply with legislation, prevent or detect fraud, determine institutional risk control, aid law enforcement, and contribute to security initiatives. http://www.irbsearch.com/.
KnowX – KnowX.com public record and background check portal retired on July 31, 2017.
LexisNexis Background Check – Lexis Nexis is a comprehensive background check company that provides solutions in two major categories. First, LexisNexis provides Legal and Professional Solutions for law firms, corporations, government agencies and academic institutions seeking legal solutions, news & business insights. Second, they provide Risk Solutions for companies and government agencies seeking data analytics supporting compliance, fraud detection, identity solutions, investigation, risk decisions and workflow optimization. https://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/gateway.page.
The NICS: The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. In the last decade, the NCIS handled more than 100 million checks, leading to more than 700,000 denials. https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics.
The Pipl query-engine helps you find deep web pages that cannot be found on regular search engines. Unlike a typical search-engine, Pipl allows you to do a deep background check by retrieving information from the deep web. Pipl’s robots are set to interact with searchable databases and extract facts, contact details and other relevant information from personal profiles, member directories, scientific publications, court records and numerous other deep-web sources. https://pipl.com/.
TLOxp for Licensed Investigators (TLOxp) was created by the inventor of AutoTrak and Accurint and is now owned by TransUnion. TLOxp is a completely new and unique investigative system for finding knowledge and insight. It combines advanced search capabilities with massive and unique data repositories. Licensed investigators can use TLOxp for:
- Skip Tracing
- Investigating and analyzing asset ownership to identify scams, pattern of fraud, suspicious claims, hidden assets and to authenticate legitimate claims
- Locate and analyze people, places, businesses and interrelationships over time
- Research criminal histories and associations
- Find witnesses, and gather information to support litigation
Visit TLOxp at https://www.tlo.com/investigators.
In addition, private detectives are often called upon to locate or identify sex offenders. For more information on public records resources visit our Sex Offender Search page.
Free Background Checks or Online Searches
Of course, while searching online for companies that provide public records, you will likely come across advertisements promoting the availability of free background checks or record searches. Truly, some reports and data may be available for free in the form of public records. However, a true free background check is likely not available, or will likely be incomplete.
Some online detective software packages suggest that you can invest just a small amount. Then, you can use their software and then conduct unlimited searches for free. In reality, you do get unlimited access to their search tools. Unfortunately, that unlimited access usually provides you with little more than free telephone number and address searches. Our advice is to ignore the advertisements for free checks. If you truly need to learn about someone’s past, criminal history, driving record, or online activity, it is worthwhile to invest the money in obtaining a true dossier.
Background Screen Associations
The National Association of Professional Background Screeners is a non-profit trade organization representing companies that offer employment and screening services. The association promotes ethical business practices and compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In addition, they work to foster awareness of issues related to consumer protection and privacy rights within the background screening industry. Visit them on the web at https://www.napbs.com/.
Presenting Information and Data to Clients
After retrieving the raw data on the subject, you should take the time to analyze the information and summarize the key information in the form of an investigative report. It is the private investigator’s job to cull through the data an determine the facts that are relevant to the investigation. Ultimately, once all of the relevant information and data is assembled, it should be presented in a format that is simple and easy to understand. Provide your own detailed descriptions for various data points to help your clients understand the information, what it is and why it is important.
Also, don’t simply email or mail the report to your client. Try to present the information in person. That way, you can review the information, have a conversation, answer any questions or concerns and agree what needs to happen next. Presenting what you found or uncovered in person is a professional touch that will go a long way toward earning your client’s trust and potentially, their future business.
If you have any questions about running background checks, or the list of companies that do background checks, please leave a comment below.