The Ups and Downs of Background Checks

by CherrellT on October 1, 2011

The use of background checks is growing in popularity. What was mainly used for hiring is now seen as an everyday process in many capacities. We can get quite a bit of information just by checking into someone’s background—without even having a social security number. That is a little unnerving. Yes there are appropriate times to allow a background check but these days you really have no control of who will run one on you.   Here are several uses becoming typical is our increasingly suspicious world:

Hiring Employees

Mainly employers have traditionally wanted to do a background check in order to screen for drug use or criminal behavior. Now it seems they want to do it also from a spin of your morality and behavior. Many of today’s background checks include a comprehensive social media layout of what you’ve been doing. The lesson here is to definitely watch what you are putting into the social networking universe. Party pictures could get you a one-way ticket to unemployment!

Most employers may pull up information such as your driving record, verification of social security number, credit records as well as military records. In short they could have access to any information about your life with the use of your social security number. While it may seem invasive, it may just be the price that you pay to become employed.

Online Dating

The original stigma of online dating has lessened as the practice has become quite commonplace. It begs the question is online dating safe? You would hope that the other person was being honest with you, but unfortunately that is not always the case. So is a background check an appropriate choice here? Knowing everything about someone could be a blessing and a curse.

Recently you see background verification that is available from online dating websites such as and Sure it may take some of the magic out of meeting someone, but in this day and age you could be better safe than sorry. Keep in mind that although these dating sites may offer identity verification, very few include criminal background checks.  For the most part, criminal convictions are public records but reverse phone directory sites usually offer a quick route to the information.

Babysitters, Landscapers and Home Workers

Background checks have also become popular with employers of domestic help or other contractors working around or in our homes.  With childcare providers this can be especially important. is one of the leading providers of information, and they will give you an extensive criminal search to give you peace of mind.

Finding information about contractors or other home care workers can be done in a myriad of ways. You can run a background check through but also consider looking for reviews from other clients that have used them by going online to or calling your local better business bureau.

While it seems a shame that we have to go to these extremes, our economic and social temperatures rather dictate the necessity of caution these days.  One thing to consider, however, is getting the investigated person’s side of the story as well.  Along with the wonders of available technology, there is a fairly large margin for error that could wrongly condemn an innocent person—after all, humans are entering the data.

Andrew Young is a specialist in personal background research and suggests as a good starting point for running checks on phone numbers and email addresses.

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