What Shows up on a Background Check?

Reviewing a background check report with a magnifying glass

Whether you are applying for a new job or a new apartment, you’ll likely need to pass a background check. You may also use the service to find out more about new friends, neighbors, or co-workers. But, what kind of information actually shows up? Well, the answer depends on the type of background check that is being completed. Read more to find out what you can expect from the process.

6 Different Types of Background Checks

The information that shows up depends on the type of background check. There are a variety of different review types and processes. The most common styles of background checks are:

  1. FBI 
  2. Criminal
  3. Fingerprint
  4. Employment
  5. Tenant
  6. DMV

There are some similar features between each style, but they serve different purposes. Take a closer look at each option, below.

1. What Shows on an FBI Background Check?

The FBI uses its own large-scale review system when hiring employees and contractors. But, you don’t have to work for the FBI to undergo this style of a high-level check. The agency often utilizes services from third-party companies. As a result, all of the partnering business employees have to pass the strict review. Public and private schools are also required to run this type of background check when hiring employees.

The process involves three main parts:

  • Reviewing federal, state, and local criminal charges
  • Running a fingerprint check
  • Examining credit history

For government employees, the report also usually requires interviews with friends, family, and former coworkers. The FBI background check is far more thorough than other variations, which is time-consuming. As a result, it’s not the most common style.

Photo of FBI homepage on a monitor screen through a magnifying glass

2. What Shows on a Criminal Background Check?

Criminal background checks focus solely on a person’s legal history. This information includes:

  • Criminal charges – all levels of government
  • Civil court records
  • Sex offender registration status

All misdemeanors and felony charges are present on a criminal background check as long as the individual was charged as an adult. If the person was sent to jail or prison, that information is outlined in the report, as well. Less serious issues that take place in civil courts, like lawsuits and divorce proceedings, are also present.

Criminal background checks rely on public records. Since most state and local governments maintain their own records, it’s challenging to track every bit of information down on your own. If you’re looking into a new neighbor or potential partner, you can utilize an online service, like, to compile all of the information at once.

Fingerprint scan provides security access with biometrics identification

3. What Shows on a Fingerprint Background Check?

A fingerprint background check is designed to accompany a criminal history review. It is a common procedure at the FBI, but it’s also used by law enforcement agencies, schools, and daycares. The process involves a few different steps:

  • Scan: First, the person’s fingerprints are replicated. This process used to take place with ink, but now, the fingertips are simply scanned by a digital system.
  • Analyze: Next, the prints are analyzed by software to determine key identifiers. Every person’s fingers are different, but the system focuses on the most unique properties.
  • Compare: Finally, the analyzed prints are compared to other scans from across the country. This database also includes full and partial prints from crime scenes.

Fingerprint background checks are important in identifying dangerous individuals who haven’t yet been caught. It also ensures that a person isn’t using a false identity. However, the tools and software required are expensive. As such, it’s not a common practice for everyday background review needs.

4. What Shows on an Employment Background Check?

Checking no on a silhouette for a background check

Unless the position is at a government agency or school, an employment background check is fairly quick and straightforward. This style of report is designed to identify any potential issues. The employment screening usually reviews an individual’s criminal history and civil cases, as well as verifies their degree or certifications. Some companies also pull an applicant’s credit history, especially if they’re in the financial industry.

While an employment background check showcases all of your personal information, the company is in charge of the outcome. Every business creates their own standards. Sometimes, their rules are set in stone. Yet, in many occasions, they’ll accept applicants with a negative mark in special circumstances. It’s a very situation-dependent scenario, so if you suspect there may be an issue on your review, be upfront about it.

5. What Shows on a Tenant Background Check?

Tenant background checks are an important resource for landlords and property managers. This style of report has two main focuses: criminal history and credit history. The criminal history not only helps identify individuals with violent convictions, but it also highlights any previous evictions.

Property owners want to rent or lease to responsible tenants. As a result, many of them utilize credit reports to identify potential financial risks. For instance, a person with multiple collections or a bankruptcy is viewed as someone who may struggle to make rent on time. In such situations, landlords often require co-signers or reject applicants completely.

Woman using tablet pc and selecting driver license

6. What Shows on a DMV Background Check?

DMV background check focuses on a person’s driving history. This report outlines tickets, accidents, and license suspensions. It also displays criminal charges involving vehicles, like DUIs. Running a DMV background check is a common process for commercial driving companies. It’s also an important aspect of the hiring process for rideshare businesses, like Uber and Lyft.

Run a Background Check Using Public Records

A background check makes it easy to learn everything about a person’s history. Request one for yourself to avoid being blindsided by negative marks when applying for a job or housing. Or, run one on someone else to ensure the safety of you and your family.

While it may seem like a complicated process, requesting a background check is easy at With a few simple pieces of information, you’ll gain access to millions of public records. The user-friendly, fast, and affordable service allows you to view contact details, address history, court records, and social media profiles. Try it today!