What does a background check do?
A background check is designed to reveal information about an individual. The actual information searched for will depend to a large extent on the purpose for the check. If you are an employer recruiting people to work with children then you are going to place a very high importance on a comprehensive and accurate investigation into the persons past and present life. On the other hand, if you are simply checking out your neighbor to make sure that you can feel safe in your home then you may not need such a detailed and expensive report.
How accurate is a background check?
The amount of checking that you want to do into someone’s personal life and how complete and accurate you want the results to be all determine how much you have to pay for the investigation and how long you have to wait for the results. A full background check for employment purposes may run into hundreds of dollars but a near-instant national search of a public records database may only cost you a few bucks.
The real question is not so much “What does a background check check?” but rather what could it check and what might it reveal? Depending on how the background searches are performed the results might contain some or all of the following:
- Criminal records
- Arrest records
- Arrest Warrants
- Sex offender register
- Homeland security
- Educational checks references
- Employment checks references
- Credit checks
- Drug screening
- Past and present addresses
If the background check is performed for employment purposes then it is likely that it will be done after a job offer has been made and could take several months to complete depending on how thorough the checks are and how uch follow up the investigators have to do.
You can do your own background checks
Most comprehensive background checks will involve some searching of national databases which are made up of publicly available records. Anyone can search these databases, including you, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Are public records databases ok for background searches?
Public records web sites can do a great job of finding background information for you. The problem with national databases however is that they can never be fully up to date and some information held in them may not be completely accurate. You have to be a little bit careful in how you use them. The professional investigators still use this method as part of their comprehensive search because it is cheap and quick. Any hits that they obtain from the database would be followed up to verify it’s accuracy. If the public records search indicates a criminal record out of state then the appropriate county court records will be examined to verify the record and possibly obtain more information. This part of the investigation can cost a lot of money and take a long time to complete.
Verifying background checks for your date
If you have used a public records database to check out your date and it has revealed a criminal record, would you go to the trouble and expense of verifying the information at the county records office? It might make more sense to simply ask your date about it and walk away if you don’t get a satisfactory answer. Alternatively, if you don’t want to confront him with it then simply walk away now.