Background Checks- 6 reasons to get one

Background checks are useful for personal reasons as well as business reasons.  Many people think that background checks only include criminal history.  While many services offer just this resource, a private investigator has access to more databases than just criminal!  Of course, this doesn’t mean you cannot find resources to have background checks completed without a private investigator.  Regardless of how you proceed, you should at least understand some of the reasons for background checks.  This post will review 6 reasons you should consider a background check.

Criminal background checks

Applying for a job

There are a lot of jobs these days that require background checks.  Most states have implemented regulation focusing on areas involving children, security, or significant financial positions (such as banks).  Some insurance companies encourage their companies to minimize potential losses to keep insurance rates down.  One way to do this is to conduct background checks on potential employees (see Employee Background Checks below).  It is perfectly acceptable to run your own background check first to ensure that you know what your potential employer will see.  On more than one occasion, I have worked with people who have been advised that their background check showed a criminal history even though they had never been arrested.  Unfortunately, mistakes are made on background checks.  While it can be quite difficult to correct some of these things, if you know they are there- you can warn potential employers in advance and collect documentation to prove your case.

Roommate applications

Are you looking for a roommate?  If you are in a renting from a landlord that does not already run background checks, you should consider running your own.  The simple way to do this is to hire out a company that conducts background checks.  While private investigators can run background checks, the amount of detail we pull in background checks is likely much more than what you need.  Look for criminal history and prior addresses (how often do they move).  While you can get a lot more information, a criminal history is a flag and moving a lot is another flag.  When possible, I recommend a social media search as well.  This allows you a glimpse into what they reveal to the world.  Are they telling everyone about getting into fights all the time?  Are they linking videos of vandalizing their last home?  Are they discussing drugs and parties all the time?  The information we share on social media tells a lot about us- at least enough to let people know what’s on our mind most of the time.

Tenant background checks

Those of you managing or owning locations you rent out, you should run background checks.  Even if you do not want to exclude people with a criminal background, you will want to at least eliminate individuals with specific criminal backgrounds.  For example, if a potential tenant has a history of vandalizing properties, or has a sex offense, this might disqualify applicants.  This will vary based upon your property type and location, but it is good practice to run background checks and implement a policy that weeds out those most likely to cause problems.  Your property is an investment property, this can help minimize costs associated with occupants having known problems.

Employee Background Checks

While there are many companies that run background checks, there are still a lot that do not.  In my experience, a lot of small businesses will skip this expense.  Some might check references, but running background checks when there are limited people to assist with human resources tends to make it a low priority.  The expense associated with background checks, no matter how minimal, still discourages small business owners.  I once worked with a dentist that did not run background checks on his staff members.  One day, he found that his staff had embezzled over 1 million dollars from him.  He fired them all and started over, but found out that each of them had criminal backgrounds that would have flagged if he had run background checks.

Criminal background checks

Subcontractor Background Checks

For those of you that employ people to conduct work on your house, background checks should be a priority.  Contractors, painters, and especially workers let inside the house such as house cleaning services, should have background checks.  Even if you hire through a company, you should explore the option of having your own background check run.  If you have kids or valuable items, you want to know who is entering your house and around your family and/or valuables.  At the bare minimum, I imagine you would at least want to keep out sex offenders.  Even if you do not want to run a full background check, at least run a criminal check!

Business Background Checks

Believe it or not, even businesses can have background checks.  These tend to be a little less informative than what you can find on individuals, but background checks on businesses can reveal if the company is involved in any current litigation.  They can also show you if there is suspicious actions by the company such as moving states frequently.  In several regulated industries, a company will enter an area or state and conduct business unlicensed during peak times (such as summer) and then move out of the area by the end of the peak period before they are caught.  Even if they are caught, they just go to another state and start up there.  These companies frequently hire individuals with lower skills, resulting in low-quality work.  They also practice very shady business practices.  In some states, they commit felonies.  If you are an individual hiring a business, you can request a background check of the company.  If you are another company looking to conduct business to business transactions, you might also consider a business background check.  Keep in mind that a google search can also help find information, but if they have good marketing people (or reputation management), it is likely that you will not find the bad information without the background check.

Why hire a private investigator?

Private investigators have access to a lot more information than many of the databases available to the general public.  If your subject has not done anything wrong, and has no reason to hide anything, you really do not need a private investigator.  Of course, is that not the purpose of conducting the search- to catch your subject in a lie?  The way private investigators conduct background checks will vary based on the part of the country, but generally there are three levels to background checks.  The first is a basic search where the information is compared to information provided on an application (employment, tenant, etc.).  In cases where you want the background of an individual, you should collect as much information as possible.  If a basic search reveals inconsistencies in the information provided, this generally requires further investigation.  Most background checks can be done from a computer and a phone, but every now and again the private investigator may need to do some leg work to confirm information.  If you want someone to interpret reports, help determine when something is a “flag” for concern, or you just want a detailed background check- a private investigator is your best option!  If you just need to check off your “due diligence”, then other resources can help cover you for minor legal issues.

Keep an eye out for more information on background checks!  If you are eager to find some information, and do not want to hire a private investigator- check out this criminal background check resource.

-The Private I on Background Checks