If you are in the process of renting a house or looking for a job, chances are you’ll be subject to background checks. The reasons to perform a background check vary according to the circumstances, but they are mainly performed to minimize risks. Landlords want to be sure to get paid on time, and potential employers want to know that you are trustworthy. Knowing what kind of information they can get puts you ahead of the game. And running a background check on yourself is easier than ever. The internet has made it easy to access information about almost anyone. 

First Steps

The first thing to understand is that you have the right to see your own records and dispute mistakes and inaccuracies. While you can search government databases (such as court records) on your own, if you want to save time and money, it’s best to rely on a professional online service. For example, checkpeople finds and organizes information in a simple and straightforward report. It includes public records (such as sex offenders registry and publicly available court data), address history, and social media data. 

A Credit Background Check

By law, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from the three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. To obtain your credit report, visit this site. In a credit report, you get information about your debt management (any missed payments, for example, will appear on your credit report). Your credit report will also include how many times it has been consulted by third parties. There are many reported instances of mistakes in a credit report, and not knowing about them hurts you. 

Driver’s Record

Visit your local DMV to request a copy of your driving record. Some counties offer the option to request your record online. 

Social Security Number Verification

Any names associated with your SSN will appear on a simple verification. While you may think this is unnecessary, you’d be surprised by how many people discover identity theft attempts by verifying their social security number. To remain informed about any changes regarding your social security number, you just need to create an account here

Criminal Background Check

While publicly available criminal records are likely to come up in an internet background check, there are some restrictions. For example, reporting convictions older than 7 years is regulated by the FCRA. The same applies to arrests without convictions. Different rules apply according to each state. Ideally, you need to have a criminal background check on three levels: federal, state, and county. 

Your Digital Footprint

Some online background checks include information from your social media accounts, but you can also perform a Google search of your name and check what comes up. From a professional standpoint, your social media accounts should be as neutral as possible; and free of compromising images. As much as possible, control your privacy settings and keep your political views or controversial opinions limited to your close personal circle (and even then, be careful about how you express yourself). 

Next Steps

  • Ask for proper correction of any mistakes (for example, records mixed up with someone else with a very similar name). You even have the right to request websites to take down misleading data about yourself. Usually, all it takes is an email to the webmaster, but in some cases, you’ll need a court order. 
  • Management: compromising posts and images on social media should at least be set to private.
  • Create a personal file with documents that you can share during interviews. 
  • Damage control: If your personal background check shows compromising information that is accurate, don’t panic. Be honest and prepared to answer difficult questions. Understand how this information can be used. For example, if your credit report is used against you, you are legally entitled to be informed.

Information is power. Educate yourself about your privacy rights (a good place to start is by understanding the Fair Credit Reporting Act), and understand what other people can find if they run a background search. Even if you are not actively job-seeking or looking for a new place to live, performing a yearly background check on yourself can help you correct inaccuracies on time. 

Read More: How to Make Legal and Free People Search?