How Do Background Checks Work?

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Background check and pen: How do Background Checks WorkBackground check websites have continued to pop up all over, and there is no sign of their popularity slowing down. We live in an ever-increasing digital age where it seems that there is more time spent in the virtual world than in the physical one. I have friends who are glued to their phones and even more stuck inside Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

As threats such as fake accounts, social engineering, phishing and social media stalking continue, it is no surprise that background check websites such as the ones we review are so widely used today. The digital footprint left behind allows anyone to log in and spend less than a lunch for four at McDonald’s to learn a lot about a virtual “friend” or anyone else that a customer chooses to research.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Background Check

As part of our research, we looked at reviews and comments from all across the web to see what users were saying about these sites. And, there are some important points to be made about what we found.

Manage Your Expectations

I learned a long time ago that managing your expectations through every aspect of life leads to much more happiness. It’s no different with these websites because it is important not to anticipate that you will always get a treasure trove of information. In all the time I have spent as a private investigator, one thing is for sure; the very minute that I anticipate locating that skip trace with ease is the exact moment that I cannot find them anywhere no matter how many of my (investigator only) databases I use.

Don’t Expect the Moon (and the Stars, and…)

We’ve told our son many times in his 8.5 years: “you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!” I have seen so many customers writing bad reviews due to the misinformation they get from certain background check sites. Some of those complaints are valid, but just as many are not worth the 1-star ratings they gave. Why? Because of #1 and the anticipation that the user will open Pandora’s Box into someone’s personal life, learning their favorite cereal and what kind of toilet paper they prefer (no correlation between those two).

Enter Data Carefully and Follow Instructions

Sometimes it’s “Garbage in-Garbage Out,” and the data that the company provides is exactly what they have received. So, users should consider that they do not blame Target for a toy purchased that breaks in the 1st day, rather the manufacturer who doesn’t make things they way they used to. It is important to note that these companies receive reports and information from many different sources and that it is not always accurate in its content, spelling or other attributes. However, it is not for the provider to assume that data is incorrect or not pertinent. Rather, this is the responsibility of the user, to filter out and cross reference what they receive, to determine what data is good versus bad.

So, enough of my disclaimers, but just one last parting thought…all of these providers have some complexity related to how they deliver their product. I personally believe it is to remain competitive and disallow exactly what we are trying to do in comparing services. Maybe that is just me complaining about the challenges of writing this review, but the reality is that each one has its pros and cons and no two deliver consistent products allowing for an easy comparison. But the best recommendation I can make is to read our background check website review closely and leverage what is important in your decision. Then, take the plunge and order a report, all the while managing your expectations and realizing that the work really begins after you get the results. That is when you have to filter, cross reference, validate and verify before you can ensure it is accurate.

Video: How Long do Background Checks Take?

You might think getting a background check is like a credit report that you can get in a few seconds, but that’s not the case. Watch this three and a half minute video to see why it takes longer than you think.

How to Get the Most From Your Background Search

My advice is to make certain you add as many search criteria as you have on the person you are searching. Because these sites offer little in the way of free information, if you search a common name (e.g. John Smith) you will very likely spend money looking at the wrong person’s records. This will help you get the most out of the best background check service.

What are your biggest hesitations with using a background check service?

Greg is a North America Security Manager for a large agriculture company where, among other responsibilities, he leads and manages their Global Threat Intelligence Program. In that role he leverages various 3rd Party tools and open source intelligence techniques for protection of their assets, people, products and information. He also serves as the lead for information security for the region, driving awareness and training campaigns and also managing the Data Leakage Program (DLP). Additionally, he owns and operates Sentinel Consulting Group, a security consulting, private investigations and executive protection company serving clients throughout North Carolina.

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1 Comment on "How Do Background Checks Work?"

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Good to know a little more about how background checks work, my husband is currently going through one with his new job so I was just curious what all it entailed.

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