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How much do Background Checks know About You?

With an increasing demand for background checks to be completed before signing most major contracts (like employment, renting a property, or even dating someone), it seems our information is constantly under review or consideration. But for the average individual, the thought of others uncovering our information can be daunting. Knowing what information is included in the report can help you understand what’s collected and how it’s used.

Where are background checks performed?

A background check is completed using a secure platform like Check People. The user enters personal information, like name, address, or city of the individual on the website’s search function. The database scans for the person in question and begins to pull details from various sources. Once complete, the report is purchased as either a monthly subscription or an individual purchase.

What’s included in a background check?

The information included in a background check will vary depending on the platform used and the intended purpose. For most websites, the report will include a criminal history, employment history, identification confirmation, and financial reports. Some platforms will also include a social media summary, education verification, business registrations, and any public records available (such as bankruptcy or civil actions).

How do I find out what’s included?

Most websites will include a breakdown of information that is included in your report before the search functionality. For employers, the focus will be a criminal summary, employment verification, and identification validation. If you’re purchasing a comprehensive report, you may find any social media accounts attached to your identity (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest), as well as any public photos.

How do I limit the information shared on background checks?

Certain information disclosed in a background check is known as public records. A public record is any information that is not considered to be confidential. Records like bankruptcies and civil litigation are common examples of this type of record. Social media accounts are another form of public record, especially if your profiles are set to public.

Confidential reports like employment history require a consent form to be completed by the employer and must be signed by the employee before running the background check. Once the consent is signed, an employer will be able to validate any employment history attached to your Social Security Number.

Criminal activity is another form of public record that is available to anyone interested in reviewing the file. When someone is convicted of a crime in the United States courtroom, the event is classified as public. This means that anyone can go into a court clerk’s office and search for the record if needed.

Unfortunately, it also means that the information disclosed in the background report will be the same result. Some background checks will also include information relating to arrests, convictions, jail time, and traffic violations. Depending on the state, the information could date back seven to ten years.

Credit reports are another section of the report that is included in background checks. An employer (or any individual looking) will not see your credit score but will have access to current accounts on your file and the status of those accounts. This may include any loans, credit cards, or delinquent accounts you have.

One way to limit the negative impact of your credit report is with consistent monitoring of your accounts. Make sure that all bills are paid regularly, limiting late payments when possible. It’s also helpful to keep any balances on credit accounts below 30% of the total account.

Lenders will look at the credit report when determining whether you qualify for a new loan. This will also be reviewed by some employers, particularly if you work in the financial industry. Employers need to trust their staff with client accounts, investments, and more. If your credit history shows multiple delinquent accounts or high levels of debt, the financial sector may not be confident in your ability to manage other accounts or services.

Finally, certain websites will provide an educational reference for employers to review. These verifications will include validation of any credentials you’re claiming on your resume, as well as any degree or certifications held. If you’ve lied about your job credentials, there’s a very good chance your application will be passed over. Many industries hold a minimum degree requirement, which is essential to performing the job safely. Without these skills, your employer may be facing a liability by hiring you.