What you need to know before buying background checks online
Learn how to conduct online background checks. Use this information before hiring background check services company.
There are literally tens of thousands of websites on the internet selling background checks and public record information. A simple Google search on the phrase “online background check” returns more than 28 million results. This tells us that there are lots of choices out there.
So, if you are in need of a background check service, the question quickly becomes how do you know which background check company to choose? Before you pull out your credit card and shell out your hard earned cash, a little due diligence is called for. The idea is to avoid getting duped by online background check websites that over promise and under deliver.Most of these background check websites don’t provide a service at all; they simply give you access to instant data that has been circulating around the internet for years.
Let’s get right to the chase. What are the things you need to look for when selecting an online background check service?
1) AVOID “INSTANT” BACKGROUND SEARCHES
“Instant background check” is just code for “database” searches, which is why they can be produced instantly. Database searches are background searches from data that has been complied and entered into an online database. Most of the time, these databases are owned by private companies that buy their information from data brokers or government agencies. The problem with this is that database information is almost always inaccurate, incomplete or not up to date. This is because databases by their very nature- even government run databases; only update their information at certain intervals. These intervals can be monthly, every other month, every quarter, or even every year. This means if you search a particular database, the information you are getting is only as up to date as the last time it was updated. For example the Illinois State Police runs a database repository of criminal record information which is gathered from local counties. When this database is searched, it is called an “Illinois Statewide Criminal Record Search” simply because the majority of counties in Illinois submit criminal record information to this database. But calling this a “statewide” search is really misleading, because not all counties in Illinois report to the database, and out of those that do, many are backlogged by 30, 60 or even 90 days. Most of the time, the larger the county, the longer the backlog. This means that if someone was convicted of child molestation in Cook County on June 1, and you do an Illinois statewide criminal record search on that person July 1, there is a great likelihood that this record will not show up and the search will come back clear. Imagine the problems involved with a national database maintained by a private company! The fact is, as you now know, that there really is no such thing as a “national background search“. It is a simply a network of online databases from private data brokers and state and local jurisdictions that make their records available to an online database search.
2) LOOK FOR LIVE, DELAYED COURT ACCESS SEARCHES
“Live” court access searches means that a researcher physically goes to a courthouse and searches the court system’s public access system or case files. By definition, this is a delayed search, because it is conducted on request. Any background check company that claims to do instant “live” court searches is misrepresenting their service. Very few private companies have ever been granted direct access to a court system’s database. Even fewer have ever been given permission to make their court system access available in real-time to the public for a fee. Conducting a live, real-time court search means that a researcher receives the name to be searched, goes to the courthouse to conduct the search, records the results of the search, and then reports it back to the client. To complete all of these steps, it takes time. Realistically, this process takes a couple of days. The most efficient of background check companies could complete this process in perhaps 24-48 hours; but there is no such thing as “instant”. A website claiming to do an “instant” live court access searches makes about as much sense as a doctor’s office advertising “instant” checkups- it just doesn’t exist.
3) CHECK WHO IS DOING YOUR BACKGROUND SEARCHES
Anyone can set up a website and purport to do background checks. Just because a website looks legitimate, does not mean that the business you are dealing with is legitimate. It is important to make sure that you check out who you are doing business with. A legitimate business will have a physical address and phone number listed somewhere on their website. Ideally you should select a company that has a professional license, such as a private detective license. Dealing with a licensed professional gives you the confidence to know that the company is overseen by a regulatory agency that has authority over them. This means that if the company does something dishonest or unethical, you have some recourse because they will be held accountable for their actions if you file a complaint. Another indication of a legitimate business is accreditation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org). Just because someone has the BBB logo on their website doesn’t mean they are accredited; the logo should specifically say “BBB Accredited Business”, and when you click on the logo it should take you to that company’s Reliability Report and grade rating listed on the Better Business Bureau’s website.
Now that you are armed with the information you need to identify and select a legitimate background check company to provide you with the background check services you need, you should feel confident in contacting a company you are thinking about doing business with and asking them questions about their services. A professional background check company will be willing to answer your questions and take the time to address any concerns you may have. A company that doesn’t allow communication by telephone or won’t answer questions in a straightforward manner is not the kind of service you want to do business with. Good luck