Best Background Checks (aka Background Checks 101)

In today’s world, using a background check service is invaluable. They are inexpensive, accurate, and can give you the criminal history (and more) on anyone. Here are the best background check services.


Background Check Basics (Background Checks 101)

The internet has made a lot of things easier. And one of the best (yet somewhat controversial) things made easier is the ability to run a detailed background check on anyone.

It’s true – there are plenty of background check websites that can search various public records and give you the criminal history, driving record, sexual predator record, and much more, on anyone. This is both a blessing for many people, but also a detriment to others, who would rather their past remain private.

The Basics – Why Would You Use a Background Check Service?

There are plenty of instances where you not only would want to, but absolutely should, use a background check service. They include:

  • Checking out potential dates. Are they honest about their background? Were they ever married? Arrested?
  • How about knowing the backgrounds of your kid’s dates / partners? Or that new girlfriend that lonely dear old dad has started talking about? Is she on the up and up, or is she a liar who only has eyes for your inheritance?
  • The parents of your kid’s friends, especially if your children will be spending any time with them, sleeping over, going on trips, etc.
  • How about checking out yourself – what is “out there” about you?

When Should You NOT Use a Background Check Service?

There are laws in place concerning background check services. In general terms, you cannot use these consumer-level background check services to screen employees, tenants, or make decisions regarding credit, insurance, or similar instances that require FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) compliance. Most of the services available to consumers will have a clause stating this.

>> More – What Is Our Pick for the Best Background Check Service?

Why Am I Sometimes Told to “Be Careful” When Using Background Check Services?

Well, today’s background check services can go pretty deep into public records. So it gets into a territory of “do you really want to know this about this person?” For example, we knew of someone who, for fun, entered in all of their family members, and it brought up an arrest of an aunt who lived a fairly private life.

Now yes, this arrest happened, but it was 25 years ago, and that aunt would rather it be forgotten about. But because her niece ran this check (and didn’t tell her aunt that she did), it was now common knowledge, and destroyed family relationships. Thanksgiving will never be the same.

That’s why you may see the “be careful” warning when using these services. It’s our advice that you use them for good reasons (screening dates, people your kids will be spending time with, etc.) and leave the “just for fun” stuff alone. Unless you really want to know, of course.

What Can Background Check Services Show Me?

Today’s best background check services are very comprehensive, and search multiple public records. And in today’s world, almost everything is public record, and available to be searched.

Here’s what you can expect most background check services to tell you:

  • Date and Place Of Birth (So You Know How Old Someone Is)
  • Previous Addresses, Including States, Cities and Zip Codes
  • Possibly Old Telephone Numbers
  • Relatives (And Perhaps Even Their Contact Info)
  • Criminal Records / Arrest Records / Public Sexual Predator Records
  • Online Profiles / Social Media Profiles (You May Even Get User Names)
  • Traffic Offenses
  • Misdemeanors and Felonies (And Possibly Mugshots)
  • Permits for Weapons (Handy For Homes Your Kids Will Be Visiting)
  • Bankruptcies / Judgments / Court Records
  • Assets

>> More – What Is Our Pick for the Best Background Check Service?

How Much do Background Check Services Cost?

Most background check services offer monthly packages that give you multiple searches. They generally run anywhere from $20 - $30 a month, depending how long you sign up for. Sometimes they run 5-day specials, so be on the lookout for that.

What Can I Do with The Information I Get?

As stated earlier, you cannot make legal decisions like employment, housing, etc. with this information. And while the information you find *is* public record, you may want to think twice before posting someone’s arrest record on Social Media, because not much good will come from that (trust us on this one.)

n addition, nobody will welcome the fact that you “checked them” on the internet. So we suggest you practice what we call “make good decisions, quietly”. In other words, if you find out your child’s new friend comes from a family with multiple parental arrests, and that makes you uncomfortable, we would advise that you simply don’t allow them to go there without comment. Or, if it were us, we’d rather not tell a potential date “I checked you out online, and found out you lied about being married before, so the date’s off”. We’d just cancel.

So there you have it – everything you ever wanted to know about background check services. We have reviews of the best of the best, so go ahead and pour some coffee and peruse them. Or simply click the button below to go right to our top choice.