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What you can expect from a free instant background check

What you can expect from a free instant background check

A free instant background check just sounds too good to be true – and generally it is. To expect solid information from a service that has no cost and can be delivered instantly is a little foolish. If you really want to find out about the background of a job candidate, a new date or a potential tenant you’ll either have to pay a fee for an agency search or be willing to take some time and effort to conduct the searches yourself.

So what exactly are these companies offering when they advertise free instant background checks? Basically, any free background check service only searches free databases for information. In the case of companies offering instant results, searches are limited to the databases of the search company or to online records and not national records systems.


Where and from what systems do national agencies get their information?

Large agencies often hold substantial amounts of information culled from public records that can range from social security numbers, phone numbers, addresses, date of birth, driving records and some criminal records. Free instant background checks trawl these databases for matches and return any results that correspond to an individual’s name. However, if the person has a common name you could be getting results for any number of other individuals as well.

Often these databases are out of date as the time-consuming task of updating information is often neglected. At best you can expect to get an instant address check, possibly a basic credit report (though these are rarely free) and a state criminal search. These searches will be limited in location and it would be unwise to expect any searching of national record systems.

What you can’t get are the more protracted searches such as an employment check, county criminal record checks, education checks or any other fee-based check such as a search of federal court indexes or records from a state department of corrections.

Free instant background checks may confirm basic information but they are no substitute for a little legwork on your behalf or the professional service offered by a consumer reporting agency.

Their search capacity is limited, the likelihood of false results is high and their information is often out of date. If you’re concerned enough to even consider a background check don’t waste your time on the flashing ads proclaiming to offer ‘free instant background checks’; pay for a proper service and be confident in your results.