Typically, you’re asked to provide a social security number (or driver’s license, in some cases) and your address history and then sign off on allowing the company to check your background. However, you may wonder what information they’re looking for (or what they’re likely to find).
Pre-Employment Background Checks
It’s important to keep in mind that employment background checks are legally distinct from the instant checks you can get on USA Trace, even though there is a lot of overlap in the type of information available. For one thing, background checks on prospective employees require permission from the person being checked whereas a USA Trace public records search is completely anonymous.
The companies that perform pre-employment background checks will not perform them without written permission from the person being vetted. The main reason for this that many pre-employment background checks delve into information that is not part of public records – such as credit checks and graduation information – and specific authorization is needed to access that information.
For information that can be found in public records (and therefore would come up in an USA Trace people search, for example) – such as criminal convictions, bankruptcies, liens, foreclosures, etc. – the difference is that this information has to be 100% guaranteed defect-free for pre-employment purposes (whereas an instant background check simply for informational purposes would be fine with, say, 95%).
Sometimes, there are transcription errors with social security numbers, names or addresses that are entered into record which can cause some information to either be reported incorrectly or omitted altogether.
The companies that perform pre-employment background checks take special care to ensure everything is correct because – if incorrect information is used as a basis to not employ someone – the person who was not hired would have a legal basis to take the company to court. That’s why you can’t use USA Trace or similar instant background checks for pre-employment or other “official” types of searches (and also why official background checks often cost 2-3 times more).
Your prospective employer is mainly trying to ensure that the information you have submitted in your application/resume lines up with what they’re able to determine from a background check. Because background checks cost money to perform, it’s a good sign if they want to run one on you. If you have anything in your background that differs materially from you have on your resume, it would reflect better on you if you brought it up yourself before your prospective employer discovers it in a background check.
If you’re concerned about what kind information might be out there, why not try a background check on yourself? Get instant results!