Here's How Anyone Can Run a Personal Background Check on Somebody


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Here's How Anyone Can Run a Personal Background Check on Somebody

  1. 1. ==== ====Quickly and Efficiently search and locate public records online. Our instant lookup tool will scanthe data and prepare a complete report for you to view and examine on any search subject. ====I. Overview of TopicPossibly youve never considered using the Internet to run a background check. Neither did I until Itried it. But its really not hard if you know how, and its free.The simple fact is, there are many situations in life where its extremely helpful or reassuring to beable to quickly find out something about an associates or neighbors background.Consider a few scenarios:+ Youre thinking of investing in a business and you want to know more about the current owner.+ Youre considering dating someone you met on the Internet and want to know more about thatperson.+ Your son or daughter has a new girlfriend/boyfriend and you want to check the person out.+ New neighbors have moved in next door and theyve been acting a little odd (or so you think).You have kids and would really like to find out more about these people.+ Youre in college and thinking of taking on a roommate, but before you accept anybody into yourapartment you want to check them out.+ A local used-car dealer has a good price on a car you want. But youd like to check out theowner of the lot and see if hes been sued or has a criminal record before buying a car from him(i.e., run a quick background check).The Internet now makes these kinds of background checks possible - for free - and its perfectlylegal as long as you adhere to a few simple guidelines, as described below.In this Guide Ill discuss how you can access online public records pertaining to just about anyadult U.S. citizen. As I said, its easy, but you do need to know something about public recordsand where to access them.-----------------------------------------------------------------------Q & A
  2. 2. The easiest way to overview the subject of online background checks is with questions andanswers.Q: Are online background checks legal?A: Yes, as long as you only access public records for your own use. That means records like realestate records, bankruptcies, tax liens, and criminal records. Three things you should be aware of,however:First, you cant legally do a background check on someone youre thinking of hiring without his/herwritten permission (a signed release); second, you cant use "pretexting" in your backgroundcheck (for example, calling a bank and impersonating the account holder in order to find out howmuch money he/she has in the account - this is strictly illegal); third, you cant legally accesssomeones "non-public" information, particularly medical records and credit reports, without asignedrelease from the subject. Also - please never hire someone else to do any of those things.You could be held responsible. There are plenty of private investigators and others with Web sitesthat will gladly use pretexting to determine someones place of employment or financial assets, forexample. You should avoid these people like the Black Plague.(If your interest is primarily in employment- or credit-related background checks, you shouldfamiliarize yourself with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.)Q: Where do I get the information for the background check?A: There are two ways to do it. You can do the work yourself for free, using government websites that allow you to access public records (e.g., County real estate sites, etc), or you can hire abackground-check company to do it for you. Needless to say, the latter method is easier and fasterbut you need to be confident that the company you hire is legitimate and will do a good job. I offerseveral recommendations in Part II of this report. Ill also recommend a free Web site that willmake doing it yourself much easier, if thats the route you prefer to go.Q: What can I find out about someone?A: First the bad news: You can not "Find out anything about anybody," even though a fewInternet snake oil salesmen may tell you otherwise. But with that said, there is a lot you can findout about someone through public records. For example you can --- Verify name and address- Determine past addresses- Determine marital status (married/divorced/single)- Find assets (most easily, real estate)- Check for bankruptcies and tax liens
  3. 3. - Check for honorable military discharge- Verify occupation or profession- Check on political contributions/affiliations- Find out if subject has been written about in the news- "Listen in" to subject in online discussion groups- Determine if subject has sued anybody or been sued- Find out if subject is a sexual predator- Check for criminal records (in most States)- Determine if subject has served time in a Federal prison- Find out if subject is a pilot and/or owns a plane- And much more, as youll learn as you get into the subject of public records moredeeply.Q: What about things like "How much is he worth?", "Is he a drug addict or alcoholic?", "What dopeople think of him?", "Does he have AIDS or other sexually-transmittable disease?", "Does hehave children?"A: Remember, you cant legally access somebodys credit report or medical records. And ifyoure thinking of hiring your subject, you have to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, whichamong other things requires a signed release before doing a background check. You need to beclear on all that. But theres no law against guesstimating. For example, you can get a pretty goodidea of someones financial worth by where he/she lives. Home values are public information. Sois stock ownership when the stockholder owns more than 5% of a public company. You can nothowever, access his bank or brokerage account information without a signed release or courtsubpoena.One good way to find out personal information legally is to check civil lawsuits. If hes been suedor has sued somebody, the lawsuit case file (which is public information) will often tell you a lot,especially if its a divorce filing.Another way is to hire a private investigator. But you need a legitimate P.I., and frankly a lot arentlegitimate. Some P.I.s are macho former military types who are not overly concerned with nicetieslike the Fair Credit Reporting Act, State privacy laws, etc. These guys (and ladies) can get you inserious trouble. Some are down-on-their-luck former cops or refugees from other occupations whoyou really dont want to get involved with either.
  4. 4. In Part II of this report Ive listed two sources for finding a reliable P.I if you need one.The basic investigative technique in the P.I. profession is simple: they follow people around. Theyterm this "surveillance" and, frankly, it works. A good private investigator can indeed learn a lotabout your subject youd never find out from public records. Just be sure you know who youredealing with - check the State licensing board and the BBB for starters to see if he/she is in goodstanding.-------------------------------------------------------------------------MAIN POINTS TO REMEMBER ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECK RESEARCHBackground checks use public records, which are maintained at County courthouses and variousState/Federal agencies. You can access most but not all of these records online. Some agencieshavent gotten their records online yet, but more and more are getting their records on the Internetas time goes by.As a U.S. citizen, you have a right to free unrestricted access to U.S. public records.Your use of such records is generally confidential. Except in rare cases like accessing drivingrecords in some States, the subject isnt informed and theres no paper trail.All you need to do public-records background checks is the Internet and a list of links to thevarious County/State/Federal public-records repositories. We suggest a Web site that provides thelatter, below, in the Review Section.If youre doing a background check for employment purposes or to evaluate someones credit, youneed a signed release from the person. For more information, read the Fair Credit Reporting Act.Dont get involved in "pretexting" -- e.g., calling the phone company and impersonating yoursubject in order to get your hands on his/her phone records, or calling any other type of businessand doing this. Pretexting is illegal. (Dont hire a private investigator to do it, either. Thats alsoillegal.)Remember, youre only entitled to access public records, not private records like medical or creditrecords, unless you have a signed release from the subject. However you can find a certainamount of "personal" information in some types of public records, like civil lawsuit case files.You can do your background check yourself, for free, using public records Web sites, or you canpay someone to do it for you. The former is free and a bit time-consuming; the latter costs money(usually about $50 or so) and is faster.II. Review SectionThis Section provides reviews and recommendations of Web sites and other online resources.Background Check Gateway
  5. 5. Want to do your own background check for free, using government Web sites and other publicrecords resources? takes you through the process step-by-step.Its a little time-consuming, admittedly, but if you need just one or two pieces of information aboutsomebody, as opposed to a full-blown background check, this may be the way to go.Intelius []Intelius is one of the leaders in online background checking, with revenues from this and relatedinvestigative services approaching $100 million a year. Youll receive your background checkalmost immediately online at a modest cost. Recommended.US SEARCH []You may be familiar with US SEARCH from its TV ads. Its a major player in the background-check business. To use its service you need to set up an Account, which however is simple andquick. Its advantage is that you can order background check information piecemeal, for example,only aproperty records check, or only a check of marital status (however, note that only some States arecovered in its marital status searches). Recommended.Several Services Offered by Washington Research Associates Inc.Washington Research Associates, Inc. is the company that publishes the Web Search Guides. Wehave several online services we offer in the background-check field, and Ill just mention themwithout pitching them too hard:E-MaximumCriminalSearch []What if youre only interested in determining if your subject has a criminal record? That is, youdont want a complete background check, just a criminal record search? Our E-MaximumCriminalSearch will provide this. Its unique in States, not just, say, your subjects State-of-residence criminal records. It tries to do a thorough job by searching nationally at all levels -County, State, and Federal.E-EmploymentScreening []I mentioned above that employment-related background checks are a special case. Theyreclosely regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and State laws. If you need this type ofbackground check, our E-EmploymentScreening service may be a good choice, especially ifyoure a small business (small businesses are our specialty). We will complete the pre-employment screening report on your subject within three business days and post it to a secureweb page, emailingyou the password. We dont care if you only need one report or if you need a hundred. Youll getthe work done right, and youll get our personal attention.However, if your company is large - i.e., you screen thousands of applicants -- youll need a largerbackground-check screener. I can tell you that one of the biggest and best is HireRight[]. Their reputation is excellent and I unqualifiedly recommend them for larger
  6. 6. businesses.Finding a Private InvestigatorFirst Advantage [] is a well-known, major investigative firm. They have offices inmajor cities nationwide and can handle just about any investigative job you throw at them. If youprefer a smaller firm or are in an out-of-the-way location, try Discussion GroupHave questions or thoughts to share regarding this topic? Try visiting our Web Search GuidesDiscussion Group byclicking here. []Joseph Ryan is director of Washington Research Associates, Inc., a Washington, D.C.investigative and research firm. Visit his site at for more usefulhow-to reports on timely research topics.Article Source: ====Quickly and Efficiently search and locate public records online. Our instant lookup tool will scanthe data and prepare a complete report for you to view and examine on any search subject. ====