How to Run A Background Check

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Information can be found online for free, or for a small cost, when running a background check.

Whether you’re hiring an accountant for your business or a nanny for your child, you may at some point want to run a background check. The good news is that you can find a great deal of information online—much of it for free. Here’s how.

Check search engines and social networks – free

Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter…these sites can be a treasure trove of information, and they’re all free to search.

  • Google. If you know the person’s name, search it in quotation marks. (Ex. “John Smith”) For common names, include additional information in your search, like “John Smith Yale.” You can also search specific sites. For example, if you want to find mentions of John Smith on Yale’s website, then you could type into the search box: site:yale.edu “John Smith”.
  • LinkedIn. This is a great source for checking employment history and viewing resumes, although it’s important to keep in mind that the content is user generated. So if John Smith’s LinkedIn profile says he went to Yale, it’s because he inputted that into the system…not because LinkedIn verified the accuracy of this information.
  • Facebook. Begin your search using the person’s name, then narrow your results by location, workplace or education. If privacy levels restrict your access, you can do a site specific search in Google (site:facebook.com “John Smith”) to find comments by John or photo tags on another person’s wall if they have fewer privacy restrictions.
  • Twitter. Searching Twitter will mostly yield you insight into tastes and personality, but still provides a good amount of information.

Find contact information – free to minimal cost

If you need a phone number or address of a person, try these services.

  • ZabaSearch. Look up a phone number by searching a person’s name and state. If you don’t know the name but know the phone number, you can pay for a reverse search.
  • WhitePages. Here you can also look up a phone number as well as an address for free. Again, you can do a reverse lookup for a small cost.

Criminal and public records – free to minimal cost

Finding criminal and public records on the Net is easier than you think, although finding in-depth information may cost you. Here’s where to begin your search.

  • SearchSystems. Searches here will provide you free access to public records sites where you can locate marriage records and birth and death certificates. There are many different ways to search and you can even search international records.
  • NETROnline. This site also serves as directory of county and state sites that contain the records you’re seeking. It will also conduct criminal background checks for a fee.
  • CriminalSearches. You’ll pay more to use this site, but it’s easy to search and covers a wide range of criminal activity—from traffic fines to violent crimes.

Just remember—all this information you’re searching for on someone else is likely “out there” for you as well. So while you’re at it, why not run a background check on yourself? And if you’re conducting a background check on a potential employee, keep these tips in mind.

Source: PCWorld, Huffington Post, FBI, Digital Trends
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