Ultimate Guide to Background Checks

Table of contents
1 What is a background check?
2 Who provides background checks?
2.1 Who can perform background checks for employers?
2.2 Who performs background checks for firearms?
2.3 Do I need a background check?
3 What does a background check include?
4 What does a typical background check reveal about me?
4.1 What does a bank look for?
4.2 What do the police look for?
4.3 What do rideshare companies look for?
4.4 What do landlords look for?
4.5 What do healthcare facilities look for?
5 Where to perform a background check?
6 Where does background check information come from?
7 What happens if my background check is wrong?
8 When does a background check expire?
9 Why are background checks so important?
10 What are the different types of background checks?

There are many reasons for conducting a background check. You are checking possible renters, or you’re looking to sell a gun. What about possible employees? You will want to do a background check on them as well. Maybe you just want to know what everyone else sees when running one on you. Here’s a possibility, what if you want to check a romantic interest to see if they have a record? Background checks provide answers, plain and simple. There are many reasons why you might benefit from conducting one, so we have put together this guide as a way to help you better understand the process as well as the potential benefits.

What is a background check?

A background check is the process of investigating and collecting personal information about someone. This information might consist of criminal records, arrest records, motor vehicle and license records, financial records and anything found in public records.

Around the world there are many different laws concerning the process of conducting a background check and how the information can be used. There are many places you can go to perform one, but it is very important to consider the source in order to get the best information delivered in a timely manner at a reasonable cost.

Who provides background checks?

If you haven’t noticed already, it is pretty easy to find sources that run background checks. These days, you can perform one pretty much anywhere using a computer or mobile device. In years past, you might have to visit a private company in order to process a background check. Thankfully we have moved beyond that!

There are two main types of providers: Full service firms and online background check websites such as With a full service firm, you provide the information and they do the investigative work. The firm will typically provide you with a detailed report that includes everything they managed to find about the subject(s). These types of services typically take several days, but they can go on much longer depending on the subject(s).

Online background check websites offer a do-it-yourself approach centered on searching online. You will typically receive results within seconds so you don’t have to spend time waiting. One of the potential downsides is that these reports might be less detailed than the ones provided by a full service firm, but the benefit is they are much less expensive. is a company that is devoted to offering the best background check services online. Our entire service is based on the premise that we want to make it easy for you to check them so you can trust them!

Within each category, there are a variety of different providers that offer standard or specialized services. For example, if you were looking for more information on a neighbor, you might turn to a resource that provides national comprehensive services. If you wanted to screen a nanny, there are companies that have tailored their services to provide background checks on household employees. There are even companies that focus on medical practices, etc.

Who can perform background checks for employers?

When using one of these services, it is important to know the applicable laws. Some full service firms comply with Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines which make them legal for employee background check purposes. Other online resources such as note that is it unlawful to use the service or information provided for any purpose that would require FCRA compliance (such as employment screening or credit checks), so consider this when choosing a provider. Specialized companies provide background checks and security clearances for federal or other government jobs.

If you’re looking to perform a background check for a job, be sure you comply with the law to save yourself time and headaches!

Who performs background checks for firearms?

Since 1998, those looking to purchase a gun are required to undergo a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) online. From that year until 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had processed over 257 million background checks on prospective gun owners. When purchasing a firearm through a federally licensed firearm dealer (FFL), you will be required to fill out Form 4473 and the gun shop will submit this to the NICS along with your social security number in order to gain approval to complete the sale.

Do I need a background check?

If you are applying for a job or credit, you may be subjected to a background check. If this is the case, be sure to know your rights. Ask the prospective company or financial institution how they plan to use your information and do some research to ensure you are protected as a prospective employee or consumer. Those employers that utilize outside companies to perform the screening are required to notify you as an applicant in a written document when requesting personal information. They are unable to discriminate based on several protected categories, so make sure information used to make a decision is used in compliance with the law.

What does a background check include?

A background check goes beyond a criminal history, which is what most people think they are centered on. Yes, it includes criminal records but many go much deeper. They might include your education history if you are claiming that you have completed a certain level of schooling. They may include your marriage and divorce records, traffic and driving records, personal contact information such as phone number and past addresses, social media profiles, family details and more. They may also include sex offender information, lawsuits, arrest records, liens, judgements, bankruptcies and much more.

The information included is dictated by the source of the data. If a company utilizes public records, a background check will include all of the information found in those records. There are billions of public records, so these reports are usually quite detailed.

What does a typical background check reveal about me?

For the average person, the thought that someone can perform a background check on you which reveals your personal information is unsettling. One way you can find out what information is revealed about you is to perform a check on yourself. Yes, this sounds a little crazy but many people do it. You’ll have a much better idea about the information that is available about you and it might even help you take action against any information that is out-of-date or inaccurate (or flat out wrong). When it comes to your personal information, you have more control than most people think.

What does a bank look for?

When a bank or other type of financial institution performs a background check on you when applying for a job, they are typically doing it for trust reasons. You will be working with their customers’ money, so there is a lot at stake. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides guidance to banks and financial institutions on how to conduct background checks for prospective employees. These screenings are strictly regulated by Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) to ensure prospective employees are honest and trustworthy candidates.

What do the police look for?

If you are thinking about a career in law enforcement, you will undoubtedly be subjected to a series of screenings and background checks if you choose to purse this. They will look at every permanent record including your high school and college transcripts (they may even interview your teachers, professors and classmates). They will interview friends and family to get a better idea of your past and they will certainly look closely at your public social media profiles. They will also investigate any potential drug use and make you undergo a drug test for illegal substances. Consider these details if you are looking to get into law enforcement.

What do rideshare companies look for?

Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have been scrutinized in the past for their background check practices. Each jurisdiction is different when it comes to the requirements, so the topic can get a little confusing. When applying to drive for Uber, you will be required to submit certain documentation and undergo an online screening that reviews your driving record and criminal history.

Lyft goes into more detail on their website. When applying, you will undergo a background check for “criminal offenses and driving incidents.” It is conducted by a third party and looks at national and county-level databases. They may even look at local courthouse records that go back a minimum of 7 years.

You are typically unable to drive for these services if you have committed a violent crime or felony, have any drug-related offenses on your record, been convicted of a sexual offense or have been busted for theft or property damage. Depending on where you are applying, the screening may be even more in-depth. For example, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) performs the screening in New York City.

What do landlords look for?

When looking to move into a house or apartment complex, the tenant might require a background check. They typically look at your history to see if you have a criminal record in addition to credit issues (including your FICO score). They will usually verify your employment history, known aliases, past addresses as well as any history of eviction. They will want to know of any potentially negative public record filing such as foreclosures, bankruptcies, tax liens as well as some other financial details including student loans, store credit cards, car loans, etc.

What do healthcare facilities look for?

Healthcare background checks adhere to industry regulations, similar to the financial sector. Physicians and medical staff are required to undergo comprehensive background checks to ensure their histories are clean in order to protect the public. Like other industries, they will verify your education and employment history as well as look at misconduct and abuse registries. They will confirm you have the appropriate licensing and also look at your finances to gain a clearer picture of you as an applicant. Doctors are required to maintain an active license that is issued by the state’s medical board where they practice. There are currently 36 states that require doctors to pass a background check in order to receive their license. The Federation of State Medical Boards has more information related to this.

Where to perform a background check

You may be wondering where the best place is to perform a background check. In order to choose the right provider, you need to take a minute and consider your needs as well as the applicable laws. If you need to check someone’s credit or want to screen for employment, you will have to turn to a provider that can legally perform an FCRA compliant background check.

It is important to note that CheckThem’s background checks cannot be used for employment purposes or credit considerations. We provide instant background checks that help you get a clearer picture of an individual. At this time, we are unable to search for specific companies or organizations. Therefore, you should consider the source before choosing a provider to go with.

There are plenty of options online, but you can also work with a local company for a comprehensive full service background check if you need more information. A word of warning: these companies can take more time to deliver the information than online options such as

Where does background check information come from?

That is a great question! Different companies will pull from different records but most online providers such as CheckThem rely on public records. We act in compliance with FCRA guidelines and have built a database that includes information from every state within America. Our “deep search” scans State, Federal and County databases for the latest and most accurate data. There are billions of public records and we work tirelessly to pull from the most current sources to get you the information you are looking for instantly. In other words, you don’t have to wait to get the answers you are looking for because we pride ourselves in offering the best service for your money. We look for personal contact details, address history, criminal court histories, civil court records, marriage and divorce details, social media accounts, property records, pictures and assets.

It is important to note that we pull from both Federal and National records. While neither is comprehensive or perfect, the records found within each system are typically thorough and current. Federal records usually include crimes that crossed state lines or white collar crimes. At a national level, background check information is typically centered on felony and misdemeanors.

What happens if my background check is wrong?

If the information on your background check is wrong, you have options. While we strive to pull information from the most accurate, up-to-date sources, mistakes happen. It happens with every public records database, no matter how reputable. If you encounter erroneous data in your report, contact us immediately. We will conduct a second background check for free so you can be confident you are getting the best value. We are in compliance with FCRA guidelines which promotes accuracy and fairness when browsing public records.

When does a background check expire?

A background check is valid only as long as the information stays current. If someone moves, changes marital status or name, the information found within public records can quickly become outdated. That said, is committed to pulling from the most reliable sources so you can rest assured you are viewing the freshest data.

Why are background checks so important?

When it comes to gaining a better understanding about someone’s past, nothing beats a background check initiated by a reputable provider. Companies looking to hire honest employees for risk-sensitive positions will utilize this method as a way of protecting their business interests. It’s a way of verifying information. Businesses will be able to hire the best applicant and take uncertainty out of the equation. They are a shelter against accusations of negligent hiring and the exorbitant costs that go along with litigation.

For individuals, it is a way to protect loved ones or finances, etc. An individual might perform a background check on neighbors before moving the family to a new neighborhood. Someone else might run one before going on a first date to make sure the person can be trusted. Some people even run them on themselves to see how they are perceived by others. As you can see, there are many different reasons they are important!

Types of Background Checks

There are a few different main types of background checks:

Identity check

Say you want to check someone’s identity. Identity theft has grown in America and is a real cause for concern. You don’t want to house an ex-con that is posing as little Mary. People are being conned every day into believing that someone is who they say they are when in reality they are not. To protect yourself, you should run an identity check. It’s possible that someone is scamming or conning you. Be prepared and vigilant for these scam artists. The most common check is the criminal record. Many people will lie about their criminal past just to get a job. Running one of these can prevent you from hiring an ex-con. You definitely want to make sure that if they work with kids, they have a clean criminal background. You don’t want to end up with a paedophile on your workforce. You don’t want to hire someone to clean in a pharmaceutical room, when they have had a drug record in their past. You are not only protecting yourself, but at the same time you are also protecting the people around you from possible danger.

Credit history check

There is a credit history report. Maybe you want to loan some money to a friend but want to know what their credit score is. You can run a background check on that if you want. It’s possible that you are taking out a loan or looking to buy a house and need a mortgage, but you are unsure about what your credit score is. The tricky part about checking your credit score is that every time you do check, your credit can go down. Be careful not to do it too many times.

Driver License Check

We live in a day and age where driving is a necessity. If you have a company that uses vehicles, you are going to want to do a motor vehicle check. What kind of violations has this person had? You have to ask yourself whether you want someone on your team who has a bad driving record. What if they were in an accident and they were not covered? You would probably be in trouble. You don’t want to get caught under a lawsuit because one of your employees was negligent.

Pre-employment screening

Say, you just want to verify that a future employee is telling the truth about job and education history. There are ways to run background checks on this too. It is often too easy to lie on a resume about your educational and employment history. Some individuals will fluff up their resume to make them look better. They really haven’t graduated from college, but they are hoping you won’t notice. Maybe this individual moves around from job to job and cannot stay consistent. You don’t want to take the risk of hiring someone who is flighty in nature.

Tenant screening

A big one that is used is a rental check. You don’t want to rent to someone with a shady past or has been evicted for not paying their rent. You want a reliable tenant that pays their rent on time. What if this possible tenant has wrecked the house they previously rented? You most likely don’t want to pay the charges for cleaning the house to make it look like its previous condition before it was trashed. That is why a rental history check is valuable about potential renters.

Drug Screening

Lastly, there is a drug background check. Many federal jobs require you to pass one of these. You do not want this to be a negative report, because it will alert your future employer that you are not a reliable candidate for the position. What if you hired someone who was convicted for selling drugs? Who is to say they won’t try to sell drugs to your other employees. You want to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Many individuals will go through professional services that do the work for them. But I believe the best way to conduct a background check is online. It’s quick and efficient, therefore saving time and money. When conducting a background check you need to make sure that you go through a Consumer Reporting Agency. Lists of these can be found online if you just search for it. This is law and required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Before you start, you must think of yourself as an investigator. You are trying to get to the bottom of a mystery. You will have to dig and scrounge for information that is scattered around the internet. Nowadays some people even check Facebook to see what kind of person you are. All you need is a search engine such as Google and a browser like Chrome to conduct your research. Sometimes you can start out simply by typing in background check. Other times you can get lucky by putting something specific in, like how to do a background check. There are places that will give you access to some of these personal records. Sometimes all you need is a name, birthdate, and a social security number. The social security number is asked less and less due to the identity theft possibility. It’s important to protect yourself from liars and cheaters. You want to be successful. So having the right kind of people in your life is important. Don’t get caught falling for someone’s scam. It’s too easy to be conned in this day and age. Be alert and aware of possible bad backgrounds.