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Criminal Background Checks

Criminal Background Checks

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Published by Joseph Ryan
What you absolutely must know before ordering a criminal background check online.
What you absolutely must know before ordering a criminal background check online.

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Published by: Joseph Ryan on Jan 31, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/31/2011

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What You Absolutely Must Know Before Ordering a Criminal Background CheckNeed to conduct a criminal background check on someone (a prospective investor,a potential date, a suspicious-acting neighbor, etc.)?Good news: The U.S. Is one of the few countries in the world where you can check to see is someone has a criminal record without their express permission (provided you are not using the criminal background check for employment or credit-granting purposes). In other words, criminal records are generally considered public records here.But though public access to criminal records is more open in the U.S. than in most countries, it's still less comprehensive than it could be.The only truly comprehensive repository of U.S. criminal records is the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, which is national in coverage and updated daily. But private citizens and businesses do not, as a general rule,have access to this FBI database.Instead, the public must search on a state-by-state basis, or in some states, ona on a county-by-county basis (the latter occurs in a few states which do not provide statewide criminal records searches to the public).Today, you can easily order criminal background checks online, through any of innumerable websites offering this service. But before you jump, read on. You really need to understand the type of info that's available to the public and thetypes of searches that can be conducted before you plunk down your money. Frankly, there are more than a few online companies out there that do shoddy, incomplete criminal records searches, and may well report that your subject is
clean
when in fact he/she has a rap sheet a yard long! Knowledge is power -- learn a little about criminal background checks BEFORE you order one.DATABASE VS. ON-SITE SEARCHESThere are two ways to run criminal background checks -- by means of statewide database searches or by having a researcher personally visit courthouses and search the records for you in person.There are advantages and disadvantages to each method.Statewide database searches are quick and relatively inexpensive. But these statewide databases have to be compiled from information submitted by the counties,and this takes time. So such databases arealways somewhat out of date. Also, there may be some counties in a state which fail to report their data, in which case the database search is providing less-than-complete results.BUYER BEWARE: Virtually all Internet websites offering you "instant" criminal background checks are using statewide databases. BE CAREFUL to review the "Coverage" of those databases. You may be surprised to find that a search claiming to cover California, for example, is in reality covering only half or less of California's counties.That's why database searches alone are not adequate for situations where timeliness and completeness are vital, such as pre-employment screening. Although database searches allow you to search a wide geographic area inexpensively, it's a good idea to utilize the other type of criminal search as well -- hiring a researcher to search courthouse recordsin person.In on-site searching, timeliness and thoroughness are assured. But this type ofcriminal search method also has a disadvantage -- you only get results for a single county (assuming you're only having the on-site search done in one county).HOW TO SEARCHFor many applications, the best strategy is to use both methods of search, thatis, to order an on-site search for the subject's county of residence plus a database search for his/her state of residence. That way, you're getting very timelyand complete results for his/her county and at the same time searching a widerarea as a precaution (you can of course also order nationwide criminal databasesearches online).You should always start with a Social Security Number Trace (SSN Trace), which will reveal your subject's address history, i.e., Where has he/she resided withi

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