As many as one in three adults has an arrest record — and these details can show up on a background check, hurting your chances of landing a job, securing an apartment, or even entering certain professions.
In total, about nine out of 10 employers run a criminal history check on applicants, typically after obtaining permission from the applicant.
However, landlords can conduct certain background checks without explicit consent, so knowing what’s in your record is essential.
Try Not to Pay for It
Typically, if you try to find a resource for a self-background check online, you’ll be inundated with paid sites.
Not all of those services are created equal, so don’t be impulsive about signing up for one that charges money. First determine whether you can get the same information free of charge.
Some areas provide access to court records online at no cost, but not all. Find out what might be available by heading to the websites of the local government organizations nearest you.
Check It All
You’ll need to check county, state, and federal courts to get a complete picture, which can be time-consuming.
However, if you know you have prior convictions or arrests, it can be worth the effort.
That said, some districts require you to pick up the records in person, so you may need to prepare to head to the courthouse in those cases.
Typically, getting a copy of your driving record is fairly easy. Usually, you can head to your local Department of Motor Vehicles and request a driving abstract.
Although there’s often a small fee for obtaining a driving abstract, it contains helpful details on vehicle-related crimes, such as moving violations.
However, this information only concerns the state where you requested the driving abstract. If you’ve previously had a driver’s license issued in another state, you’ll need to obtain a driving abstract from that location.
A credit report in itself is a form of background check. Luckily, you can access copies of yours from all three bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax for free once a year through the website Annual Credit Report, which essentially redirects you to each of the aforementioned companies.
You can also obtain free copies of information on your credit report by signing up for an account on such sites as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, Free Credit Report, Free Scores Online, Credit.com and Check Free Score.
While these sites don’t limit you to just only one check per bureau each year, the information you get is more of a synopsis than copies of your actual reports. However, the data is detailed enough to suffice as part of your self-background checking.
Sometimes, a simple Google search can yield information on your background. You’ll need to put in a few details, athough you can start with just your name to see what comes up.
Often, if your name is particularly common or you share a moniker with someone famous, you’ll need to key in more information. This can include your age, state of residence, or similar details.
Keep in mind that a Google search usually isn’t going to provide comprehensive results. However, it lets you know what other people see if they put your information into the search engine.
Like Google search, social media will only provide you with a partial picture; but it does give you some helpful information.
You’ll be able to see what a potential employer or landlord will see when upon entering your details, giving you a chance to review it in advance.
Unfortunately, if you see something you don’t like, it can be challenging to get information removed that someone else posts. Friends and family members may be open to untagging you if you’re in a picture that isn’t flattering, but there’s no guarantee.
You can untag yourself on Facebook, even in other people’s photos, but getting it taken down entirely isn’t so easy — try being as candid as possible with the person about why you want it removed. Otherwise, if the poster isn’t willing to honor your request, the material might stay put as long as it doesn’t break any rules on the platform.
Paid Criminal Background Check on Yourself
If you want a better picture of what employers may see, you might find it convenient to simply pay for a service. Just keep in mind that not every site is reputable, and some don’t allow self-background checks.
One site worth checking out is GoodHire. The cost is reasonable — approximately $20 — and it adheres to all federal and state standards.
While some other online searches may be cheaper, it’s safer to spend a little more on a company with a solid reputation.
Thorough Background Check on Yourself
By following the tips above, you can conduct a thorough self-background check.
If you spot any errors, you’ll need to research reporting procedures for each organization to ensure corrections are made.
Readers, have you ever run a background check on yourself? Tell us about your experiences by posting in the comments section beneath this post.
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