First off, in case you don’t know already, nothing in this world is “free.” Most of these “free” background check websites entice customers with free offers only to hook them in to purchase additional information for a fee.
Typically you will be given some “teaser” information, such as a name or partial address, to entice you to purchase additional information.
What follows, of course, is a request to purchase additional information for $19.95, $49.95 or $99.95.
?So what do you get for a “free” background check?
The report that you will ultimately get is what investigators like to describe as a “data dump”; various information from various sources is “dumped” into a formatted report usually consisting of some sort of address history, list of neighbors and maybe some limited identifiers such as partial date of birth.
There may be some public records including limited criminal history (typically only state penitentiary records), judgments, some civil records and other records from various sources.
?So what’s the problem?
The problem with these “data dumps” is that records are mixed up, data is stale, inaccurate and incomplete.
While reviewing and analyzing data is important in conducting a background check on anyone, having accurate, up-to-date information that is relevant to the person that you are conducting a background check on is essential.
For example, many of these “free” and paid background check services suggest that they conduct “national criminal checks”, but if you look at the fine print they only search state penitentiary records and don’t check criminal records in every jurisdiction, which is a manual, time consuming and expensive proposition.
A common complaint is that the reports provide data on different people with the same name.
?So what do you get with a professional background check?
A professional background check is conducted by a trained investigator, adept at navigating through the maze of open sources, public records and databases to provide a detailed background of the subject.
An investigator trained in conducting a professional background check reviews and analyzes documents to determine the relevance or risk involved.
A professional background check goes beyond providing you with hundreds of pages of public record data; we provide a concise easy to follow report that provides you relevant details and analysis.
In addition to conducting exhaustive searches through open sources and analyzing documents and records, if you are interested a more complete background check, investigators can conduct interviews of former colleagues, business partners or friends to identify other information that may not necessarily be on paper.
The point of this is not to scare you away from using these “free” background check services (we do recommend that you check out a review of web-based background check services by the Wall Street Journal).
There is certainly a time and a place for doing a little snooping around for whatever reason you may have, such as finding an old boyfriend, a long lost relative or a former colleague.
But when if you have a serious issue or if there is a serious risk involved, please call a professional; you don’t want stale, inaccurate or incomplete information to get you into a bad situation.