A background check is a thorough procedure an investigating entity follows to verify that the individuals are genuinely someone they are claiming to be. The background check process includes a thorough investigation of a person’s records. The investigated information can comprise various factors like criminal history, educational achievements, past employments, associates, and any other information that can help unveil any suspicious information on the person being investigated person that they may not reveal readily.
A typical background check report consists of employment, education, criminal, credit history, motor vehicle, and license records. Depending on the case, sometimes, a background check may extend very broad and can include both online and in-person screening.
The background check’s purpose may vary on a case-by-case basis, but the main reason is always a desire or necessity of uncovering potential dark mysteries that someone could be hiding. The most common forms of background checks conducted are employment screening, military background checks, and tenant background checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), signed in 1970, protects the types of background checks performed to examine a person’s qualifications for certain things like credit eligibility, employment, etc. More information on FCRA is available on the document published by Federal Trade Commission.
There are several organizations out there that claim to let you perform a comprehensive background check on anyone. While they can give you the information on people, the information they present may not be accurate. Due to their inability to guarantee the accuracy, the background check performed using the services offered by such organizations are not FCRA-compliant.
There have been instances where the companies have been fined heftily for promoting their FCRA-incompliant background check products for FCRA-protected purposes. One example of such an incident was when Spokeo, one of the leading background check providers, was forced to settle for about a million dollars for promoting their background check service to employers and recruiters. Their practice was deemed unlawful.
If you want to run a background check on someone, it is necessary to ensure that you comply with FCRA-requirements to avoid any future trouble. Usually, a personal investigation is okay to conduct a background check using an FCRA-incompliant provider to know someone better. An example of that would be your desire to screen the person you are about to date. However, the other purposes, like running a background check on a potential babysitter for your baby, may not be okay.
To avoid a violation, it is a good idea to double-check the background check service provider to ensure that they are providing what they are promising and are indeed offering an FCRA-compliant service.