There are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around about background checks, like what kind of results you may get, how much they cost, and even if they’re legal to do at all. It’s important to dispel those myths so you can not only know what background checks really are but also to find out if running a background check is right for you.
Background Checks Are Illegal
It might sound a little unnerving to have someone run a background check on you without your knowledge or consent, but this is actually perfectly legal. That’s because background checks rely on public records, which anyone can access at any time. However, when it comes to employee screening, tenant screening, or any other important checks, then written consent is needed. In fact, it’s even illegal to make important decisions based on a background check processed without permission due to FCRA regulations.
People Know When You Run a Check on Them
If you’re running a check on someone close to you like a friend, housemate, or even a potential date it would be awkward if they found out about it. You don’t need to worry about that though as there’s absolutely no way of anyone knowing that you’ve run a background check on them. The only exception to that rule is when you’re running the kind of background check that requires a person’s consent – then they’ll have to know so they can approve it.
Only Criminal Records Are Included
Of course, criminal histories are important as they cover any type of misdemeanors, court records, judgments, and if someone’s name is on a sex offender registry. It’s one of the main reasons people turn to background checks, but they’re not the only thing these checks are used for. While criminal records are still a major feature of background checks, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Background checks cover a wide range of information like birth records and licenses. Some services even check social media accounts. That’s why people use background checks for other reasons, like reconnecting with long-lost friends and family.
Background Checks Are Expensive
You may think that background checks could have you forking out a lot of money, but that’s not the case since these services use algorithms to do all the hard work. In fact, you can get a person search for under a dollar. Of course, comprehensive background checks cost more but they’re still affordable. Even if you need to run multiple checks, you’ll find services that can offer you an unlimited number of reports with their subscriptions at a reasonable price. Background checks services also often offer trials or discounts to help you reduce the price even further.
They Take a Long Time
There’s a perception that background checks can be a long process, but surprisingly, some background checks are instantaneous. This is especially true for people searches, but even more comprehensive background checks can take under a minute to process. Checks are so quick because much of the data is digital and accessed immediately.
The only time you’re likely to have a report take a long time is if you’re relying on cooperation from another company to complete a check, like when dealing with drug tests or international data. In this case, delays may mean you have to wait a few days for your full report.
Every Background Check Service Is the Same
There are a lot of different background checks services on the market, but they won’t necessarily give you the same results. While public records are the basis for most services, others go beyond to offer more detailed results to its customers. That’s especially true for specialist services that deal with employees or tenants, as they go deeper into a person’s history and check past references. You also have to consider where the data is coming from, as not all public records have been digitized.
There’s Nothing You Can Do About Your Results
There are plenty of times when someone may be running a background check on you, and it’s important to be prepared for them. Some people may think there’s nothing you can do about the results of a background check, but that’s not true. In fact, you can remove your results from these services entirely and there are guides that will help you do this. If you find incorrect data about yourself, you can even request to change it (although when it comes to public records you may have to do this locally). Still, it’s well worth running a background check on yourself to see what others will find out about you.