Background Checks: How to Choose the Best Service
While conducting regular searches on the Internet can provide basic background information on a prospective hire, tenant, business partner or neighbor, not everything will show up. There are a number of services available to people interested in learning about the backgrounds of others. Each, however, differs in terms of speed and the information provided.
What is a Background Check Service?
Background check services are designed to provide users with some comfort in knowing those they are dealing with. When a user visits a background check website and offers up basic information, such as first and last name, phone number, date of birth or driver's license number, the service provides reports regarding criminal and personal background history, civil court records, sex offender status, business history documents and professional license verification. Services can also examine things such as motor vehicle records and specific license checks.
Fred Giles, chair of the National Association of Background Screeners, said background checks that provide past education, criminal history and work experience are especially important for employers hiring new staff members.
"All of this helps an employer choose the person that is best suited for the position," Giles told SecurityNewsDaily.
It's not just employers who find value in background check services. Investors can use them to check on brokers before giving them access to their money, and parents can use background check services to run a neighborhood search of sex offenders in their area, as well as to investigate a child's teacher or coach.
Choosing the Best Background Check Service
The most important things to consider when choosing a background check service is whether it searches all the records the user needs. While most background check services examine personal and criminal records, some search other more specific records, such as business history documents, professional licenses and driving history. In addition, some can only search by county or state, while others have the ability to search both nationally and internationally.
"You want to make sure the company can handle those specific needs you have," Giles said.
Another important aspect is how quickly the records can be provided and how easy it is to submit information and access completed reports.
One plus of the best background check services is that they have licensed investigators on staff and employ court runners to visit courthouses to help improve the quality of the results.
Another tool to look for is identity protection. Some services offer users the option of having their credit monitored or purchasing insurance in case their identity is stolen and losses are suffered.
Since NAPBS just launched an accreditation program, Giles said those that haven't been accredited shouldn't be dismissed from consideration.
"A company not having accreditation yet shouldn't be a disqualifier, but it should be looked upon favorably," he said.
Top Background Check Services
One of the most popular and well-regarded background check services is US Search. It provides a comprehensive list of reports and multiple ways to find information about the person being researched. Users also have the option of getting instant results, reports that are returned within 24 hours or expert-assisted searches. In addition to providing basics like contact information, marriage records and criminal history, US Search also conducts financial checks, including debt collection options, real estate reports and asset searches. The service also offers users protection against searches that turn up nothing. US Search has a no hit, no fee guarantee that refunds the full purchase price or credits an account if a search returns no results.
Intelius is another top service that is easy to use and returns results quickly. The service browses government databases for public information and uses proprietary and commercial databases, providing access to such information as private cell phone numbers and email addresses. Its offerings also include privacy and internet-reputation services that help ensure the data and information other people find about the user is accurate.
EFindOutTheTruth is highly rated for offering one of the largest selections of specialized background check reports. The service employs private investigators, who oversee every search and have access to special databases that non-licensed investigators can't legally use. EFindOutTheTruth also has the ability to search international criminal records, including those from Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Several other top services are PeopleSmart, which can return results in just seconds; PeopleFinders, which uses multiple databases to find full names, contact information, social networking profiles and email addresses; and Background Pi, which conducts specialized searches, including immigration status and education history.