Do you seek to change your apartment or get a new job? You may be required to run a background check soon. To prepare and strike out surprises, you may want to be proactive and run a background check on yourself.
Typically, background checks dig up and examine your records to find out your eligibility for housing or employment.
Lately, most landlords and employers are adopting background checks as a key screening requirement for tenants and job seekers, respectively.
A survey says 96% of U.S companies conduct background checks on their prospective employees.
That said, this guide offers an overview of several forms of background checks, average time limit, what a self background check entails, as well as its importance.
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Why Background Checks?
It depends, basically on who needs the check. Reasons may vary from one person to another.
Basically, employers opt for background checks in their bid to curtail the likelihood of theft and fraud as well as to uphold the company’s reputation. They also want to abide by legislation that disqualifies certain people from voting – undocumented immigrants, among others.
For instance, some industries prohibit employers from hiring people with specific legal convictions for certain positions.
On the other hand, no landlord wants to keep tenants who are not faithful to their rent payments. So, property managers and landlords would want to screen people with doubtful histories.
People with records of violent crimes, domestic abuse, and sex-related crimes are great to scare too.
Here are some reasons why you may want to run a background check on yourself:
- It helps you predict and rehearse for queries that may come up during a housing or employment screening
- Helps spot mistakes in your legal and financial records and offers you an opportunity to make necessary corrections.
- Helps you save money and time that would have been spent on a one-by-one retrieval of all your records.
- Offers you a comprehensive report that captures your records and other relevant information which you can tender on request.
What to Check For On Your Self Background Check
Remember those bad records showing on your background check were committed by you. They are yours, and you reserve the right to check what they say, as well as to object or correct whatever errors you find in it.
In a bid to confirm what will reflect in your background check, you can order to see them one after another.
Here are some important things to preview:
Social Security Number (SSN) verification
Your records will state the names linked to your SSN, showing the marital and relevant legal change of name. To obtain this info, visit the Social Security Administration portal and set up a user profile. Registration is free.
Annualcreditreport.com offers a free credit report yearly. The reports are issued by the national credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The report contains:
- A summary of all debts, payment details history, late payments, and accounts turned over by lender for collections
- A comprehensive list of current and past debt, including paid-off loans, outstanding loans, active credit card accounts, and closed accounts.
- Up to 10 years’ bankruptcy records, list of related public records such as civil judgments and legal tax issues filed against your estate.
You’d find on your background check, addresses linked to your name and SSN. These details are usually extracted from your magazine subscriptions and credit card statements, which capture all your residential addresses for the past seven years.
Landlords and employers may use these records to cross-check other addresses for any irregularities. So, it is important to double-check for incorrect entries on the records.
This information is available on the free “white pages” directory on the internet. However, these directories are not 100% trustworthy, particularly if you’ve changed apartments, frequently, within the period.
This record is obtainable at the state’s department of the motor vehicle. You can also order a copy online. If you’ve received a driving license from another state within the past 25 years, confirm them also.
Probation, parole, imprisonment, and criminal convictions will all reflect on your criminal background check. If you’ve been out behind bars within the last seven years – even if you were not guilty or charges dropped – it will reflect too.
In the event you apply to a position with a $75,000-and-above annual remuneration, the FCRA demands that hirers request arrest records.
In some states, employers are allowed to seek arrest records when employing for low pay jobs. However, some other states prohibit disclosure of non-conviction arrests.
Visit nolo.com for a comprehensive breakdown of the state by state rules.
If your records have disclosable or conviction arrests, you can review them and see how they’ll appear in your background check. Request for your history from the local courts and related corrections departments
Education and Job records
Several background checks go through your education and employment records to ascertain if the schools you attended the match that on your job history, verify the degrees, as well as the working experience stated on your form.
Some background checks capture specific records that may not be exposed to the general public. Examples are:
- Sex offenders watchlist handled by local and state jurisdictions, and the federal government maintained watchlist for a suspected terrorist.
- The National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) crawls through 21 databases used by the U.S law enforcement agencies to disburse information. It captures details of fugitives, suspected identity theft, people with an unresolved arrest warrant, and renowned gang members
Personal Background Check Vs. Commercial Background Check
Although it might be pretty easy to request your records, they hardly ever ‘free.’ Obtaining public documentations usually come with administrative charges. And, of course, it will cost your time to keep updated.
However, these fees vary across municipality and state. These costs usually range from a couple of dollars to over $25. Postage and printing mean extra costs. The duration demanded to obtain these records varies too – from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Factoring the required time and cost investment, a commercial service proves simpler, faster, and even more affordable than the self background check.
What Kind of Cheek to Run?
Here are some factors to consider when selecting a commercial service for a self background check:
You want to ensure your preferred option is of likely standard with what a potential landlord or employer will use.
These guidelines will help narrow your options to the most reliable pick:
- Seek a provider that offers background check services to landlords and employers.
- Do not trust services that do not meet the U.S FCRA standard
How to Run a Background Check On Myself
A self background check process can be a walk in the park. A payment card, SSN, and a working email account are your basic needs.
Personal background checks service packages vary between providers. However, after selecting a suitable package, you will be required to fill in your name, address, and SSN on an online form.
After providing some disclosure information demanded by FCRA, you will be allowed to set up your account which you can control with your logins. You will get a final authorization, after which the check begins. You will usually receive an email notification to update you on the process and the final result.
What do you do with the result of the self background check?
- Correct mistakes
Verify the information in the search result and correct any mistakes. You can also take advantage of this opportunity to add any explanatory or supplementary information to the report result. This is an opportunity to correct errors and gaps that appears on your history as well as to comment on reasons for some illegalities on your records.
- Fix Inaccuracies
You can spot some inaccuracies on your records – name mix-ups, among others. However, FCRA-complaint background checkers offer a guideline to follow when reporting inaccuracies and filing a dispute. You’d find data sources on the report, which allows you to contact the providers – In the event of any inaccuracies that need to be corrected.
- Identity theft
A forged signature and other forms of impersonation can cause unwarranted dents on your background check. Although in rare cases, bogus unsettled credit cards and loans, as well as warrants over bad checks you’re ignorant of, can surprisingly show up on your self-check.
- Get Ready For Questions
When done with all inaccuracies, double-check the information. You may want to cross-check as a landlord or hiring manager would, – spot what could become likely barriers to your job or housing.
For example, an unexplained space on your job history could raise questions from an employer. A landlord might be troubled by bankruptcy or missed loan payment.
A criminal record is a great scare to both landlords and hirers. To reduce the likely damage these seemingly little concerns may cause in the future, tackle them proactively with a potential landlord or manager before they carry out their check on you.
These might help:
- Explain – don’t try to give excuses
- Accept and admit your messes, while you try to emphasize the lessons learned
- If you made a terrible decision, say it, and dwell on how much amends you’ve made.
Finally – Know Thyself
Running a background check on yourself gives you a clue of what hirers or property managers will see if they run a check on you. This is a smart way to prepare for an apartment rental or job search.
This proactive step helps you confirm if records on a public domain are accurate. Here, it’s important to view your report as a property manager or hirer would. This is an ideal self-evaluation approach and will give you a head up on securing your preferred apartment or job.
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Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.