You can never truly know someone, and a person may want to remove something from their past. That’s fair enough – everyone deserves a second chance, after all. But there are times when knowing everything is important, which is where background checks come in.
With criminal background screening, you can find out about a person’s past, including previous arrests and outstanding warrants. These checks are made up primarily of public records – like those stored by the police and courts. And since much of this information is already digitized, results can be almost instantaneous. Criminal background checks are very common and are often done when a company hires a new employee, a landlord gets a new tenant, as a part of the adoption process, or when parents choose a nanny. But it works in other situations as well, like before getting a new roommate or going on a date.
Types of Information Collected in a Criminal Background Check
The information you find in a criminal record check depends on the company you’re using – it’s a myth that every background service is the same. But since much of the data comes from the same public sources, some results are universal.
So, what can you expect to find in your criminal background check report? Essentially, you’ll see a detailed overview of a person’s criminal history. This includes minor crimes – like traffic tickets and other misdemeanors – as well as far more serious offenses. Generally, most incidents disappear from a person’s record after seven years, but more serious convictions stay on record forever. Obviously, all of this information has to come from somewhere. Background check services use readily available public resources, like court records (at local and national levels) and sex offender registries.
In theory, you could do all the work yourself since this information is free and available to the public. But it’s a time-consuming and sometimes expensive process. You can expect to spend a lot of time waiting for results and you have to pay to print out documents or have them mailed to you. That’s why it’s far easier to employ a background check service to do all the hard work for you.
Recommended Background Check Services for Criminal Records
You want to make sure that you’re getting up-to-date results when you’re running a criminal background check. Here, we picked three of the best services around to make sure you get the results you need:
One of the most popular background check services is TruthFinder, which has been running background checks since 2003. TruthFinder shines when it comes to criminal background screening, as the software searches through millions of court documents to compile its information. With TruthFinder, you can find details of misdemeanors, traffic incidents, and felonies. The service also checks sex offender registries. What’s more, results are impressively fast. On top of that, the service works on a subscription model, although this isn’t ideal if you only need to run a one-off report.
Massachusetts-based InfoTracer boasts over one million satisfied customers. That’s not surprising – since 2010, the company has provided an easy-to-use service that offers instant results. There are many types of checks you can run with InfoTracer, but it’s criminal screening where the service shines. You’re able to look up a person’s arrests, outstanding warrants, convictions, and you may even see their mugshot. InfoTracer also goes through court records to show you legal rulings, criminal court cases, and traffic incidents. The service is flexible as well, as you can either pay for a one-off report or sign up for a monthly subscription – both at a reasonable price.
Intelius might be one of the most polished background check services around. Launched in 2003, the service really goes into detail with its results. When it comes to criminal records checks, you’ll see the date of an offense, the case number, which court it went through, and the eventual outcome. To make your life easier, you can either do a nationwide search or select a specific state. Results are fast, and you’ll see a list of arrests, misdemeanors, and verdicts. Unfortunately, individual reports from Intelius are quite expensive compared to the competition. But if you want to run multiple reports, the subscription is well worth the investment.
How To Do a Criminal Background Check
There’s a process you should follow when it comes to running criminal background checks. You first need to consider why you want to run the check, since screening a date is very different than running a background check on a new hire.
When you’re running a personal background check – like looking up a roommate or searching for a family member – you don’t need to worry about having to get permission. All you need to do is find a good criminal background check service, type in the person’s name (with their location for better results), and you’ll have a report in minutes.
However, when a background check is used to make an important decision about a person, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that you need permission before running any kind of check. Failure to comply with FCRA regulations can lead to a fine or even jail time. Each state also has its own laws about background checks. For example, in California, you not only have to worry about FCRA regulations but also Ban the Box and other local laws.
How To Choose the Best Criminal Background Check Service
There are a few things you need to consider when it comes to choosing the right background check service. Perhaps the most practical of all is the price. Of course, not every service is the same, and some even offer cost-effective subscription models – ideal for regular screening. Speed is also a factor, and you’ll find that some services give you instantaneous results while others can take a few days.
Perhaps the most important thing about a background check service is what information your report will contain. Although many services source documents from the same public databases, some go into much more detail when it comes to things like traffic violations and providing mugshot photos. In this respect, it’s best to look for services that specialize in criminal background checks. Finally, you have to bear in mind what your purpose is for running the check so that you won’t commit an FCRA violation. Some services are designed with businesses in mind to guarantee you won’t face a fine or even jail time for running unauthorized checks.