Online Background Check Tips
Consumer background check services have serious issues that will pretty much guarantee you have an extremely difficult time getting any useful information at all.
In reality, the biggest problem is that we have over 3,000 county courthouses in the United States, each with it’s own records management system. And while professional services may even have 41% error margins as reported by experts from of Intellisense Corp (now TalentWise), online consumer services probably have something more along the lines of 85% error margins. YIKES, and don’t quote us, it’s speculation!
Anyway, centralizing all their data is next to impossible without spending billions of dollars that nobody has. Get this…even the FBI’s NICS system doesn’t have complete felony records as they are often dependent on the states for reporting.
All kinds of ecstatically hopeful People use consumer background checks every day, and after paying, find out all they got was a proverbial kick in the backside. We have conducted consumer surveys and the common thread that often comes across is that a reliable background check is almost like finding the Holy Grail. Many had nothing to show for their trouble except for a charge on their credit card that would pay for a month’s supply of Caramel Brulée Latte’s from Starbucks.
Some unfortunate folks have found their personal information has been auctioned off to some Nigerian scammer who refuses to stop sending spam about his poor grandmother having a serious ailment that threatens his very existence. Still, the biggest issue is probably the credit card charges that just keep coming, and the headaches that come from reporting these to the credit card company and filing complaints with the FTC and attorney generals.
So what can you do?
To help you out, we have put together a couple of tips that should help you get better service than someone that stumbles blindly about looking for the next free offer, that actually isn’t’ free. These guidelines have resulted from years of background check industry experience, consumer survey responses, and plain old common sense.
- Do we know about the company? If we don’t about them then you plain and simply shouldn’t use them. However, if there is a company that isn’t listed on this website, be sure to send the url and it will be checked out. We’ll let you know whether the company is to be trusted.
- Does the company have endorsements and/or feedback? This provides outside validation, and shows people are actually using it in the real world. Check the BBB and Ripoff Report, but take an objective look as the feedback on these services is usually only negative and won’t provide a complete picture.
- Do they have a satisfaction guarantee? This may seem obvious, but don’t be fooled. Be sure you can actually receive compensation or a refund for a product that isn’t delivering. Be sure you read the refund policy very carefully as this can be a very contentious subject.
- Is your contact information kept private and secure? This is very important. You are very familiar with Spam, and what a pain it is. But it’s also about protecting your identity. Look for the VeriSign, Thawte or Mcafee logo on a website for assurance of digital security.
- How long has the company been in business? Some have been in the business of collecting information over a decade, so they know how it’s done. This generally applies except in a case like Net Detective.
- What do you actually receive for your money? Most times you will receive a specific product such as a background check. Some companies offer unlimited access to their databases for a subscription fee. These are generally low quality. READ THE TERMS ON THE PRODUCT PAGE BEFORE FINAL SELECTION. e.g. make sure you aren’t signing up for a monthly subscription.
- What data collections methods do they use? See if they advertise how their data collection methods function. In reality I don’t think there is a whole lot of difference between top services in this respect. However a low grade service will not have access to data brokering services like USSearch and Intelius.
- Do they have reachable customer service? If they are paying someone to keep you happy that obviously shows commitment on their part. Give them a call to make sure there is somebody on the other end.
- Do they have About us, FAQ and Privacy pages? We have found that any service worth considering has pages dedicated to informing the customer what their mission is, an FAQ page, etc. In fact, some of these are required by law.
Wrapping It Up…Where To Next?
Browse the directory of background checks and take your pick. The methods outlined above were used in selecting each of the companies on the site, and you can also do your own research using these tips.
Be warned that an online background check is still an electronic records search and unless you’re willing to hire a private investigator, don’t expect a 45 page dossier on someone. The criminal records, addresses, phone numbers, bankruptcies, liens, and other information you get will depend on how in-depth you decide to go. Check out the general background check directory to get started.
P.S. Not trying to scare you off, but rather trying to keep your expectations in line with what’s really available.