I’m going to tell you why a free background check usually means that you will be doing the work and may even end up costing far more.
Every day, literally 15,000 people and often more, type in the words “free background check” in order to start their search for that FREE elusive information on another person or organization. Of course all kinds of sites pop up offering something for free and claiming that you won’t have to pay. There is even one site warning you not to pay for any background check without reading their “warning.” They are ALL after you and what you’ve got.
My extensive experience in the background check industry has shown that every single free offer of a background check comes with some pretty major strings attached. The biggest rope are attached to your credit card and personal information, and sometimes they can be a major pain to remove. I’ve seen horror stories of people that were charged $400 or more before they even realized what was going on.
I don’t like ruining anyone’s day, but when I get through explaining what goes on behind the scenes in order to acquire the records you are looking for, you will see exactly what a scam a “free background check” really is. You ever heard the saying “there are no free lunches”? Well, it applies as much to this as to getting a new car.
However, having said all that, it is possible to get something like a free background check if you are willing to do all the legwork to get the information. There are various resources that can be perused in order to acquire the criminal or civil records you’re looking for.
By now you should have put two and two together and deduced that this type of search is where you are doing all the work. This will certainly work providing you have more time than money available to browse the myriad available resources. There is also some leg work involved.
Obviously, the best place to start is the Internet. A Google search (Google being not only the biggest and the most accurate search engine) will return the most data accessible on the internet, or visible web. Most sites will be open in nature, which means that you are not required to sign up in order to access some form of information.
The major malfunction is that many more common names may result in hundreds or even thousands of matches. And even if you enter additional distinguishing information, combing through the results can take hours and will leave most folks very frustrated. Even if you do find useful facts, such as addresses or phone numbers, it’s highly doubtful you will be able to obtain criminal, court, or civil records using a simple Google search.
However, you might learn about companies or organizations your subject worked with or was associated with. Once you know who they are, the next logical step is to contact them, identify yourself and your relationship with the subject, and inquire about personality traits of your subject. Obviously they can’t reveal any confidential information. In addition to this, the media often provides insight through news stories.
Social networking sites are the craze of the century and are a great way to find out about a person’s interests, past escapades, and general personality. However, these also have settings that allow users to keep their personal profile off the search engines. This means you should also go to the social networking sites themselves such as Facebook and MySpace, and do a search there. Do you have a Yahoo or Hotmail account? Well, they are also beginning to enter the social networking space in a big way with searchable profiles.
One of the best places for employers or professionals to check is LinkedIn. Professional social networking sites such as this are a valuable resource for finding out what a person’s associations and affiliations are. Of course you won’t find any criminal records on there, but once again, it’s a good way to gauge their personality. The tried and true methods for finding out about where people live or have lived include both online and offline phone books. They can help you assemble a list of previous and current addresses, important if you really want to dig deep, and something we’ll cover when explaining about county courthouse records.
Free Background Check Procedure…
The fact that most county courthouse records are public information is what makes a free background check possible. You should know however, as with any records system, there are usually requirements and fees associated with accessing the records. Each of the 50 states has set up their own rules regulating the dissemination of personal information and what can or cannot be included in the information the public has access to. These regulations mostly center on whether or not arrests or criminal proceedings that did not result in a conviction are included in public information. There are a number of states where everything down to a traffic violation is accessible by the average Joe.
Once you have compiled a list of addresses through your phone book, social network, and Google searches, proceed to checking records in each county courthouse where your subject has lived. But wait, there is another thing.
Although, you may be able to find out whether Bill had a speeding ticket last year through public records, waltzing into the courthouse won’t always be snap. Usually you will be required to have an acceptable reason for wanting to know exactly why Bill had that speeding ticket or other violation. This is also in part to ensure a person’s privacy from a prying eye of someone who is nothing more than a busybody.
If all this presents an insurmountable obstacle to your search, you should most certainly be evaluating the reasons for wanting access to the records in the first place. Obviously, a county courthouse records search is going to involve substantial effort even if the person you are conducting your “free background check” on hasn’t moved around a whole lot.
So how do you feel about the whole idea of getting a background check for free using one of the only methods available? I would personally call it daydreaming at its best. The energy and time needed, even if there are no costs, will in every case meet or exceed the costs of having someone else conduct the search. By someone else I mean those companies that do it for a living.
There is one more. Not all the records, criminal or otherwise may have been accumulated in the home county or counties of your subject. What this means is that an address history would be entirely useless and you would have just wasted a lot of time. I am not wishing this for anybody, but getting stuck at square one is often the most realistic ending to someone’s attempted free background check.
What is a Free Background Check…
You should have a pretty clear idea by now that even in today’s digital world, acquiring criminal and civil records on another individual is not entirely hassle free. This is so for a very good reason, which is to protect your identity should someone else want to check you out for nefarious purposes.
If you are perchance wondering how national databases are maintained, imagine all the work you just had to do and multiply it by a hundred million or so. Not exactly, but it gives you a good idea of the effort need to maintain crime databases such as those run by the each individual state or the FBI. And, while many of the states have digitized their records, accessing that very convenient digital information is subject to some pretty stringent requirements and hefty amounts of money. The long and short is that if someone is giving you a free background check, there is a really big string attached somewhere, usually to your credit card and/or personal information.
The question then is, why are they offering me a free background check?
Basically, it’s what’s called a “loss leader” in the retail segment of the market. For example; no doubt you have been to a store where a product was offered at a really low price. The store wasn’t making any money on the item, but they got you into the store where you will hopefully spend more money because you’re so impressed.
Some online background check services try something along the same lines. HOWEVER, in this case your low cost item was simply the mouse click that got you onto their website, or the promise of a free search. Indeed…the search itself is free, but the results are certainly not free and will have to be paid for before you can look at any information.
Lately there has been another service touting a free background check to anyone that will listen. That service is just some more of the same. While they do let you conduct a free background check, you are required to submit your credit card information before being allowed to search for anything. In this case there really is no loss leader because a large majority of folks will feel semi-obliged to pay after they have used the system. Don’t fall for it.
Services That Are Not Free…
If you still feel that a free background check is the right way to go for your search, by all means use the methods I have outlined. Otherwise, the services below are by far the most comprehensive and accurate consumer background check services available.
I have found that USSearch.com usually offers the most comprehensive information, followed by BackgroundChecks.com. I then try Intelius.com, and if neither of these three have what I am looking for the final step is eFindOutTheTruth.com. I use them after trying the others simply because of a convenience issue. They take a few days because often a researcher actually checks for the records.
- www.USSearch.com is the most respected and well known provider of criminal records search, background checks, people search, phone number search and myriad other services. They have been indexing and providing comprehensive solutions since 1994. 7 million visitors pass through their website every month. Their reputation in the online community is excellent. For example the BBB gives them an “A+”. If a choice had to be made between the top 2 services available today, USSearch or Intelius, USSearch would be the winner due to their customer support and extensive, positive track record. Use USSearch if you need current and thorough records. We talked them into letting us offer you a 25% site-wide discount.
- www.Intelius.com was founded in 2003, and is a behemoth provider of criminal records search, phone and address search and more. They compete neck and neck with US Search in terms of quality and quantity of information. Together, Intelius and USSearch offer access to over 30 billion records. Nobody else even comes close to competing with these two services. However, Intelius has a tarnished public image due to some of their practices. But, almost all of the negative feedback on Intelius has to do with billing. This has stemmed from a $10 rebate they offer. If you opt for the rebate, part of the terms are a monthly membership, so read carefully. Use Intelius if you need current and comprehensive records.
- www.findoutthetruth.com was started in 2001, is run by two private detectives, and claims the title of “background check superstore”. They are the only recommended company to offer international background checks. Their myriad services will provide you with everything from criminal records search to email search and driving records. They offer not only background checks, but many security gadgets from door and window alarms to pepper spray and handcuffs. Their reputation in the online community is also excellent despite a few small hiccups from a few years ago.