With the modern era of technology, access to personal public records has been made more easily and readily attainable than ever, and knowing how to do a background check on yourself is a great skill to have. Making things more complex, every state has it’s own rules that you need to be aware of.
Extensive, elaborate, and complex in nature, personal background checks can seem quite daunting to navigate— especially for someone who has never run one before. Fortunately, by knowing three tricks to use, you can run a background check on yourself (or anyone else for personal reasons) and make sure that the information used for employment, residency, and other criminal history verification is accurate.
Why Should I Run a Background Check on Myself?
Using a combination of personal data, employment history, finance reports, and criminal records searches, background checks are among the most commonly used tools for deciding whether someone meets the qualifications required for eligibility. Case study evidence found that over 96% of employers conduct such screenings on potential prospects.1
The information included on a background check can have a huge impact on whether you get a job, are able to adopt a child, or are approved for residency. They also catalog your criminal records, credit history and driving record. Making sure all that information is perfectly correct can be vital to your success and provide peace of mind.
Checking up on your personal public records not only ensures the accuracy and completeness of all disclosed details but also allows you to find out what kind of personal information future investigators might be reading up on about you online.
Keep in mind there are several different types of background checks designed for you to run yourself (use the search box above if you aren’t sure and want to find all records on yourself of all types):
Three Tips to Know Before Doing a Background Check on Yourself
Before doing a background check on yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Not only can the process take time, it will likely involve some costs, depending on the level of detail you’d like to see. For example, a level 1 background check might be relatively easy and accomplished fairly quickly. However, if you want to see what your level 2 background check contains, that will be a lengthier and costlier process.
But, there’s no need to worry. Running a personal background check on yourself and getting a comprehensive analysis is much easier when you keep these three tricks in mind.
1. Use the Proper Outlets and Do Your Research
Throughout this article, we will explore three tips to know about how to run a background check on yourself before getting started. Doing the proper amount of research on yourself is the first step, but you need to make sure you use the proper outlets.
Be wary of ‘free’ background check services. Many times, the claim is just a hook and the free service will cost you something when you try to open and view your “free” report.
The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” holds true. So, when you’re looking for detailed records, remember that a private outlet claiming to have a national database won’t have the same information that a level 2 background check done through the FBI system will have. A real level 2 check is done with fingerprints, and like all private personal information, you’ll want to protect yourself from fraud and scammers.
A good tip to remember is to always search the platform or outlet you plan to use first by googling it with the word “scam.” you’d be surprised how quickly this can eliminate a resource.
2. Be Ready To Answer Questions and Commit Your Time
You will naturally need to answer some personal questions and be prepared to wait for the results of any background check you run on yourself.
For a level 1 background check, you can do much of this yourself using the proper channels (state Department of Justice databases), social media, and other tools, but since this type of check is performing using your name, social security number, and other private information, always refer to the first trick, and make sure the resource is reputable.
For a level 2 background check, which verifies criminal history throughout the country, you’ll need to conduct this using the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal History Summary system.
Like all governmental resources, there are detailed steps to follow, so the most important thing to remember here is to be accurate in your request documents and fingerprint submission process.
Level 1 vs. Level 2: Read More on Criminal History Record and Background Checks Here.
3. Don’t Ignore Other Resources
Many people mistakenly believe that to get a complete picture of your background check, you need to only use federal and local governmental sources. This isn’t the case. Social media and other public information is just as valuable to an employer or potential landlord, so don’t ignore the free access you have to these tools.
According to a 2013 study, 77% of employers used social media as a reference for recruitment and based on how the world has evolved since, this percentage has likely increased exponentially.2 Therefore, knowing what social media says about you is one of the best free ways to do a free background check on yourself.
In the same way, the impression left by your “online footprint” can be a prime factor used by a majority of managing directors’ to determine whether or not someone is suited for the position.
To check your online reputation, you simply need to do a couple of things:
- Open an “in private” tab for browsing in your search engine. (If you don’t do this, you won’t get accurate results)
- Search your full name (with middle name) and check the results.
- Explore each page that includes your full name.
While exploring each page, note any false or misleading information. Also note whether the person on the page (or social media site) is actually you.
You may be surprised to learn that someone else has your exact same name. And, this is why a level 1 check is not as accurate as a fingerprint check.
On any social media profiles, make sure that your information is professional and friendly, not vulgar or offensive. Also, double check your social media settings in any open account to set private communications, private.
Tracing your social media history can also reveal the existence of fraudulent or misleading accounts using your name as an alias, and allows you to clear up any confusion or misinformation it might create for an observing screener.
How to Do a Criminal Background Check on Yourself (Using Official Outlets)
Individuals can be denied employment over a failed criminal background check in many states, depending on the severity of the crime, but not in all states. It’s up to you to ensure that any criminal history you have is accurate, and is in compliance with various laws.
For example, the Fair Housing Act prohibits potential landlords from denying you housing based on race, creed, religion and other factors, but recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development added prior criminal history to the list, although it has not been specifically added to the law by congress.3
To do a criminal background check on yourself, the steps are relatively simple. Visit the link listed next to your state, and follow the instructions about getting a background check done, explicitly.
Criminal records will appear on any background check if the individual in question has been convicted of a legal offense within the last seven years; however, as formerly stated, professionals have to first ask your permission to be able to access such private personal records.
It is important to note that unlawful acts committed over seven years before the present date are eligible to be corrected and eradicated from your public records.
Whether you committed a crime or not, you should still do a personal background check to make sure that there is no misrepresentation of information or falsely accused misdemeanors under your name.
How to Do a Federal Background Check on Yourself (Answer Questions and Commit Your Time)
If a potential employer should decide to conduct a Level 2, fingerprint-based background check on a candidate, then the report will include a federal criminal record scan. While Level 1 scans only integrate a name-based report of local jurisdiction, a federal background check covers a national scale.
To perform a federal background check on yourself, visit the Identity History Summary check page of the FBI, and follow the steps outlined.
How to Do a Background Check for Employment
Sometimes it can be hard to remember specific details about past jobs or experiences, therefore, performing a history check before a job application can help. Phoning previous bosses or other work references to inquire about your occupational history is just one way to gain access to this information.
One of the most common pre-employment background checks people will run is a credit consumer report. Requesting your annual credit report is easy to do online for free and doing so will provide you with personalized insight on any past debt or financial discrepancies that might appear as a red flag in the eyes of potential patrons. This is also a chance to correct any possible fallacies or technical errors as well as ensure all fiscal factors in the report are in rightful order.
Simply visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Get My Free Credit Report website and follow the instructions. (Note: you can only get one every 12 months.)
Another filter considered almost universal to the hiring process is an employment screening report. A more all-inclusive review, these background checks elicit the capacity to carry information about your credit score, former income levels, previous employment, educational history, and driving license authentication.
Although the potential employer can only obtain authorization to your criminal records without first asking for your consent, screening companies can also issue an account of any conviction history or federal offense records. If your consent has been authorized, it is recommended that you also ask about which employment screening companies they will be using.
If you need to procure any academic certificates, diplomas, or transcripts to verify your educational background, contact your high school or post-secondary administration officials to get insight on how.
Driving records are typically only targeted by employers looking to hire an employee for a job that involves operating a motor vehicle. For example, someone applying to work for a corporation like Uber should certainly expect to undergo a background check that specifically substantiates them as a qualified driver.
The driving report an executive director at Uber would ideally request incorporates information such as accidents, traffic violations, fees or citations owed, convictions or fines, license classifications or endorsements, and the overall status of your drivers’ license.
To get a copy of your own motor vehicles report (driving record), contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state. It costs a small fee but provides a significant amount of information deemed important for anyone applying to a job that might require a representation of driving history.
How to Do a Free Background Check (Don’t Ignore Free Resources)
To learn how to run a background on yourself for free, however, you only really need to have three things: your first name, your last name, and your location (learn more about what is needed for a background check). Many of the free resources available just require searching… but you can also contact a professional background check service and have them do the legwork.
Just remember, that many ‘free’ services are not going to check all of the above locations, so it may be worth it to contact a reputable service and pay the small fee.
How to Get a Background Check on Yourself: Using Trusted Sources and Services
While the standard, step-by-step DIY strategy is relatively straightforward, simple, and effective, it will undoubtedly take a considerable amount of time and energy to complete yourself. Thanks to the ever-expanding innovation of the internet, there is a whole list of reputable background check services you can use online and the best part about them: equally accurate efficiency at a faster rate.
An ideal option for someone with a tighter schedule, these sites cut the time you might spend drawing up a personal background check from scratch by a significant amount and include information that may not be as openly accessible to the public, such as criminal records.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines your rights.
How to Get a Federal Background Check on Yourself
For a relatively small fee, you can request your Identity History Summary; however, these reports are not to be confused with employment screening. Under the protection of federal law, you are authorized to assess, edit, and update your public records.
You can either submit a request electronically, fill-out the Applicant Information Form manually to mail it directly, or send your personal information to an FBI-approved Channeler for them to facilitate.
How to Get a Copy of Your Background Check Report
Whether you are looking for a Level 1 or Level 2 report, all you need to do to get a copy of your background check is submit your name, social security number, home address, and birthdate to trusted sources and services. This can range anywhere from requesting a free credit report from the three nationwide companies to ordering an extensive, all-inclusive background check from a corporation specialized in conducting them.
There is a long list of different avenues and lanes you can take in learning how to run a background check on yourself; however, as long as you use these three tricks: use proper outlets and do your research, be ready to answer questions and commit your time, and don’t ignore free resources, you’ll be able to get all your background information and verify that it is accurate and up-to-date.