If you are looking for a new job or a new house, chances are, you are getting a background check. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, up to 96 percent of employers run background checks on potential hires. As background checks become a standard procedure, how to prepare when you might get one?
A good reason to background check yourself is to correct mistakes. Because these checks go back to your first adult years, information may have been mistakenly recorded. Knowing that there is a mistake gives you the chance to ask for a correction. You also have the legal right to keep some information private. If, for example, you have a record for something that happened when you were a minor, chances are, you have the right to have it expunged. Checking yourself before your potential creditor or employer does, will give you the advantage of knowing most of the information they will be getting.
Being able to provide truthful information first hand will most certainly help with making a good impression. Keeping a file on your personal computer and updating it yearly will be seen as responsible and straightforward. But, what happens if the information that you find is not what you expected? Knowing how your information is displayed and shared will be a way to avoid an unpleasant surprise. It is better to get ahead and know what your weak spots may be. Companies may understand mistakes, but they will not like it if they feel you are hiding something important.
Most court information is public. Therefore if you have any doubts about having felony or misdemeanor records, you can check the National Center for State Courts. if you don’t find information there, it will most likely not appear elsewhere.
Another good step to take before hiring an agency is to understand your digital fingerprint. Because most of your online activity is never erased, a simple Google search may offer you really important highlights. You can begin by searching your full name, combinations of your name (last name first, first and middle name, or no middle name) and places in which you have lived or worked. Learning about the information that is publicly available may shed light on your need for a more thorough background check.
Other records you may want to look for are driving and education. The DMV of the states in which you have held a driving license will give you your driving records, but some of them may request a fee. Education records are especially important when interviewing for a job that requires a degree. You can request transcripts of your education records at any time, and if you find any mistakes, you have the right to ask for the school to correct it.
When it comes to credit reports, there are more regulations. Each of the three national credit unions is required to give you a free credit report once every 12 months. Because it is your legal right, asking for your annual credit report is highly recommended. Credit reports may have mistakes too, and correcting them is of the essence in order to keep a healthy credit score. If you want to go one step ahead, you can also pay to get your credit score.
Choosing a Provider
If you have decided to go ahead and background check yourself, there are several agencies that offer this service. The only thing that you have to make sure before choosing a provider is that they comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Agencies that do, are known as CRA’s (Consumer Reporting Agency). These are the only ones who are legally verified and vetted to perform credit background checks. If an employer or creditor obtains insurance, credit or medical information without using a CRA, they are potentially breaking the law. Other services may find more thorough information online, even if it’s not official. If after you performed your own search, you think there is any reason to worry, hiring an agency to perform a deep search may prevent headaches in the future.
As you can see, information about you is everywhere. This is a good reason to be careful with what you share online, or how you conduct yourself when you quit a job. Another issue that is important to note is that you have a right to privacy. If someone has shared your personal information or images without your consent, you have the right to request that this information is erased. You may even have legal grounds for a lawsuit. Running your own background search can protect you from threats and ugly surprises.