Running a background check online is a fast, easy way to find out what you need to know, but running a free online background check can be challenging if you don’t know where to look. Fortunately, USA Trace is here to help!
Whether it’s for a potential roommate, business partner or someone you’ve been in touch with online that you’re planning to meet in person, background checks are a great way to either set your mind at ease or steer you away from a potentially dangerous situation. That said, if you’re a landlord or employer, a standard online background check is not going to be appropriate (see our post on when you’re allowed to run a background check).
As far as free online background checks, there unfortunately isn’t a catch-all free search that’s available. Google, Bing and other search engines can give you some information, of course, and social media sites – such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – can also give you some impressions.
Real background details – like criminal records – may be available online through state government websites. If you’re not sure where to look, the National Center for State Courts can help you find them. Unfortunately, not every court offers their records for search online and – for those that do – not every search is free. The other major challenge is that you have to know precisely where to look.
Clean results from the courthouse closest to where someone currently lives doesn’t mean that they don’t have a criminal conviction in a neighboring courthouse – or in a completely different state. It’s unlikely you’re going to want to put the time in to check every courthouse in your state, let alone in every state.
When checking your own record in courthouses, even though you know exactly where you’ve lived and traveled, there could be an error in a courthouse located somewhere you’ve never visited. All it takes is one overworked clerk making a transcription error with a social security number for a criminal record to get incorrectly linked to your info.
With that in mind, if the free options are not thorough enough (or fast enough), instant background checks are available at a nominal cost from many online search companies. They have compiled billions of records – even from the courthouses that don’t have online searches – and can produce a comprehensive background check in just seconds.
The report includes an address history, phone numbers, criminal convictions, marriage & divorce records, bankruptcies/liens/judgments and much more. And – if you need multiple searches – unlimited plans start at around $10. You can even start a background search below for free preview results.
It’s worth checking to see what you can find out with the free resources available, but – if you’re like most people – a low-cost online background check may prove to be the better (and certainly faster) option.