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What Is a Background Check & Find Out What Does It Show

Do you ever ponder about the meaning and prevalence of background checks in our contemporary world? A background check involves delving into an individual’s personal, criminal, and professional past.

This piece ai​​ms to delve into the definition of a background check and its usual components. We’ll search the advantages and disadvantages of conducting such checks and the ethical aspects associated with them.

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What Is a Background Check?

Reviewing an individual’s previous criminal and traffic records, educational background, and other pertinent information constitutes a background check process. This entails evaluating various aspects of their personal and professional history.

  • Identity Verification
  • Past Addresses
  • International Crimes
  • SSN Verification
  • Sex Offender Registry
  • Driving Records
  • Social Media Data

The main goal of conducting a background check is to include the authenticity of the details given by an individual and evaluate their appropriateness for personal use, such as financial transactions or other intents.

Employers, landlords, government agencies, and authorized entities can perform background checks. The scope of these checks and the information assessed may differ depending on the purpose of the check and relevant laws and regulations.

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What Is a Background Check & What Does It Consist Of?

The content of a background check is determined by its purpose and scope. The extent of the check can vary based on legal requirements and its intended use.

This segment will cover the components typically found in a background check, as well as the various types of information that may be included.

Educational Records

Conducting an education history is a valuable tool in confirming an individual’s educational background. This process involves checking academic credentials, such as degrees, diplomas, or certificates, with the issuing educational institution. There are several methods by which a background check can aid in verifying someone’s educational records.

Criminal & Traffic Records

Conducting a background check serves to confirm an individual’s criminal and traffic history by examining various avenues for potential criminal and traffic records. The following outlines several methods through which a background check can authenticate someone’s criminal record:

  • National Criminal Source Search: By scrutinizing a national criminal source, one can compile a comprehensive list of an individual’s criminal and traffic records. This search encompasses records from diverse states and jurisdictions, relying on the person’s name and other identifying details.
  • County Criminal & Traffic Records Search: To verify criminal and traffic records at the local level, particularly where most criminal cases are prosecuted, a county criminal and traffic records search is used. This entails physically inspecting court records at the county courthouse.
  • Federal Criminal & Traffic Records Search: For confirmation of criminal and traffic records on the federal level, encompassing cases related to violations of federal law, a federal criminal and traffic records search is conducted.

Past Addresses

Conducting a background check aids in confirming an individual’s previous addresses by delving into public records and other sources that contain pertinent information about their residential history.

  • Verification of Address History: This process entails gathering a comprehensive list of an individual’s former addresses from diverse sources, and other public records.
  • Validation through Driver’s License Records: By examining an individual’s driving record, including both current and past addresses, a driver’s license check becomes a valuable tool in verifying their residential history.

SSN Verification

Conducting a background check is an effective way to search someone’s Social Security Number (SSN). This process involves conducting an SSN verification check, which compares the SSN provided by the individual with the Social Security Administration (SSA) source.

The purpose is to ensure that it aligns with their name and date of birth. Here are several ways in which a background check can assist in verifying someone’s SSN:

SSN Trace: An SSN trace involves cross-referencing an individual’s SSN with various public records. The aim is to confirm that it matches their correct name and date of birth.

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Sex Offender Registry

Some of the best background check services prove instrumental in confirming an individual’s inclusion in the Sex Offender Registry by examining public records and sex offender registries overseen by diverse government entities.

The following delineates various methods by which a background check can affirm someone’s status on the Sex Offender Registry:

  • National Sex Offender Public Website: The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) stands as a complimentary online source maintained by the US Department of Justice. It enables users to search for registered sex offenders based on criteria such as name and location.
  • State Sex Offender Registries: Each state manages its own sex offender registry, accessible online or through law enforcement agencies, serving as a valuable resource for verifying an individual’s status.
  • County or Local Sex Offender Registries: In addition to state registries, certain counties and localities uphold their sex offender registries, which are accessible through law enforcement agencies or other public records sources.

Verifying an individual’s presence on the Sex Offender Registry aids in ensuring the relevancy information provided during the application process. Not all sex offenders are mandated to register, and there may be limitations on the disclosure of certain information to the public.

Employment History

Conducting a background check proves instrumental in confirming someone’s employment history by contacting past employers and scrutinizing employment records.

Driving Records

A background check plays a crucial role in confirming an individual’s driving records by accessing information from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), where comprehensive records of an individual’s driving history, encompassing accidents, traffic violations, and license suspensions or revocations, are maintained.

The following outlines various ways in which a background check contributes to the verification of someone’s driving records:

  • Motor Vehicle Records Examination: This involves obtaining a person’s driving records from the DMV and scrutinizing the information to authenticate their driving history.
  • License Status Verification: Conducting a license verification entails confirming the validity and current status of an individual’s driver’s license, including any imposed restrictions or endorsements.

Social Media Data

A background check can assist in confirming someone’s social media accounts through a process known as a social media check. This procedure entails searching for an individual’s digital footprint on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The following outlines different ways in which a background check contributes to verifying someone’s social media accounts:

  • Social Media Check: This involves using specialized software or tools to explore an individual’s online presence across diverse social media platforms. The examination includes a review of their activity and posts.
  • Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Search: OSINT searches encompass the collection and analysis of publicly available information from various sources, including social media, blogs, forums, and news sites.
  • Online Reputation Check: Conducting an online reputation check involves assessing an individual’s digital presence and reputation. This encompasses scrutinizing reviews, ratings, and comments from previous interactions or associations.

Different Types of Background Checks

Various types of background checks can be carried out, depending on the specific purpose and extent of the examination. Here are some of the most prevalent types of background checks:

  • Criminal Background Check: This assessment seeks criminal and traffic records covering arrests, convictions, and other unlawful activities. It might also involve checks on sex offender registries, terrorist watch lists, and other pertinent sources.
  • Personal Background Check: Individuals may conduct this check on themselves for personal reasons, such as confirming their criminal history, educational background, and other personal information.

Note that different people search sites may offer varied assessments, and the information included in each check can differ. Selecting the appropriate check for specific needs and collaborating with a reputable provider ensures up-to-date information.

How Far Does a Background Check Go?

The extent of a background search can vary depending on the individuals, institution, and purpose behind it. There are legal constraints dictating how far back a background check can delve in specific jurisdictions.

For instance, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which governs the usage of consumer reports for employment purposes, an arrest record exceeding seven years cannot be included in a background check.

However, exceptions exist for certain roles, like positions with an annual salary surpassing $75,000 or occupations involving law enforcement or national security. Similarly, some states have legislation that imposes restrictions on utilizing certain types of information when conducting background checks.

Best Background Check Site

Background check websites serve the purpose of furnishing individuals with details about an individual’s personal history. Here are some of the most exceptional background check platforms available:



BeenVerified is a well-known and valued service for conducting background checks. They offer extensive search choices and provide access to various sources, such as criminal and traffic records, sex offender registries, personal information, educational records, and more. Go through our complete BeenVerified review.

They ensure that the information they provide is up-to-date. Their reports are also designed to be easily understandable by users as they summarize the findings of each search.

User privacy and security are top priorities for BeenVerified. They use secure encryption methods and other protective measures to safeguard sensitive data. Thanks to the platform’s customizable privacy settings, users have control over who can access their information.


PeopleLooker is a well-regarded service for conducting background checks, offering access to public records and various details about individuals. They present various search choices, such as criminal and traffic records, sex offender registries, contact information, and social media profiles.

Furthermore, PeopleLooker places utmost importance of user privacy and security. They use secure encryption methods and other protective measures to safeguard sensitive data. Users also can control who can view their personal information.

PeopleLooker has some inherent limitations in any background check service. There may be instances where the information provided isn’t entirely reliable. Their pricing options can be perplexing as they vary depending on the specific search requirements and report needed.



TruthFinder asserts that it provides an all-inclusive service for conducting background checks, encompassing criminal and traffic records, educational history, personal information, social media accounts, contact details, and additional data.

Similar to other background check services available in the market, TruthFinder cannot ensure absolute accuracy of 100%, and there may be instances where its information isn’t current.

DISCLAIMER: You may not use TruthFinder or the information it provides to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance. TruthFinder does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency. (These terms have special meanings under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq., (“FCRA”), which are incorporated herein by reference.)”

Conclusion – What Is a Background Check

Performing background checks is a vital tool for individuals and organizations to make informed choices and safeguard their interests. While they may not provide all the solutions or guarantee flawless outcomes, they can help minimize risks and offer valuable insights into a person’s past and history.

The results of a background check depend on the specific circumstances and purpose of the search. Sometimes, the findings can be precise, showing that an individual has an untarnished record with no significant issues or concerns.

Irrespective of the outcome, it’s crucial to conduct background checks in a fair and consistent manner by utilizing reliable sources of information. This ensures that decisions are made based on impartial criteria while avoiding any discrimination or bias.

All product names, logos, brands, trademarks, and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

DISCLAIMER: You may not use the non-FCRA approved services mentioned in this article or the information they provide to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance. These services don’t provide consumer reports and are not consumer reporting agencies. (These terms have special meanings under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq., (“FCRA”), which are incorporated herein by reference.) 

The information available here may not be 100% accurate, complete, or up to date, so do not use it as a substitute for your own due diligence, especially if you have concerns about a person’s criminal history. The services we mention do not make any representation or warranty about the accuracy of the information available through our website or about the character or integrity of the person about whom you inquire. For more information, please review each service’s Terms of Use.

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