The phone book may be dying, but the internet is home to its successor. There are millions of public records open for anyone to view. However, many people don’t know how to access them or even that they’re available. Online background check services have collected digitized versions of these records and made them searchable via search engines. Some services can find records with as little information as a name and a city or state.
How NOT to Use a Background Check
Before diving into the details, it’s very important to know how to use these services legally. Generally, using them for personal reasons is totally acceptable. However, there are some situations in which it would be inappropriate or even illegal. Using these searches to screen potential employees, tenants, or clients is not acceptable. This also includes use in hiring in-home help. The Federal Trade Commission requires that searches for these reasons be conducted by background checks it has approved. If in doubt, it’s always best to be safe and do some extra research into the legality of your personal situation.
Top Reasons for a Background Check
Now that you understand how to use these services legally, here are just a few reasons to use an online background check.
One of the most important uses for a background check is to ensure the safety of yourself or your loved ones. Just a few people you may want to check out are a new neighbor, a potential roommate, a date, the parents of your child’s new friend, or even a co-worker. Many services will include criminal or arrest records in their search, which are almost always open to the public.
Find Contact Information
You may initially balk at looking up someone else’s address on the internet, but all of that information is in public records. It should go without saying that it should never be used to stalk or otherwise bother anyone. But you may want to send out a Christmas card to an old friend, or follow up with a “thank you” note to your new father-in-law’s rich aunt who showed up with a lavish wedding gift.
Reconnect With Friends and Family
Speaking of distant relatives, that’s one more way to use a background check search. You can use it to look up friends you’ve lost touch with, or even a distant relative you just found out about. Even if you aren’t aware of relatives, you may be able to find some by looking up your grandparent or other family members. The search may reveal some new information!
Look Yourself Up
Another reason to use a background check is to find out what records about you are visible. You can see what others may see if they were to do a search on you. Another important point is that sometimes searches may turn up social media posts or profiles. Maybe you forgot about an old, embarrassing MySpace page you created back in the day!
An Invaluable Resource
As long as it’s used legally and with good intent, an online background check can be a great way to give yourself peace of mind. Whether you’re using it for your own safety or even just for fun, these record searches can be of immense value to anyone.