Running a background check on yourself can be a helpful step when looking for a new job or planning a move. A common part of the hiring process for many roles, background screening may be required for certain industries, such as law enforcement, childcare, and financial services. Landlords also commonly use background checks to screen potential tenants.
Benefits of running a self background check
Running a background check on yourself can give you a chance to preview what employers and landlords might see. This can help you:
- Anticipate questions or concerns and prepare to provide additional context around any information in the report. For example, you might be able to explain the circumstances about a record to put a potential employer or landlord at ease.
- Review the report for errors or inaccuracies, which can appear due to misreported information or being the victim of identity theft. This could allow you to dispute errors and have such information verified or corrected before a report is requested by a potential employer or landlord.
- Save time and money by getting a background check from a third party rather than trying to put all the pieces together yourself. While you can find much of the information on your own, submitting multiple requests for copies of public records and contacting government agencies can be labor intensive, and may cost more than working directly with a background check company, for example.
Even if you don’t think there’s anything to worry about, getting an employee background check on yourself and double-checking can put you at ease and help you avoid potential delays or denials.
What does a background check report show?
The results of a background check will depend on the searches being requested by a potential employer or landlord and applicable federal, state, and local laws.
A background check report may include the following information:
- Social Security number (SSN) Trace, which provides basic information on your Social Security number, including associated names and addresses. Background check companies may use this information as a pointer to conduct additional searches, such as a criminal background check in counties where you have address history.
- Criminal records, which may include felony and misdemeanor convictions, as well as infractions and violations. Depending on state laws, if you get a criminal background check on yourself, you might see that it includes convictions, pending, and/or dismissed criminal charges. State laws may also dictate the lookback period for criminal background checks.
- Employment history, which may show your previous employers, titles, and dates of employment. Background check companies may gather this information from databases, employment documents submitted by you, or by contacting your previous employers.
- Education history, which may verify your enrollment history, dates of attendance, degrees obtained, and graduation date at various academic institutions. Employers may use the results to confirm the information you shared on your application or resume.
- Driving records, also called a motor vehicle report (MVR), shows your driver’s license status and class, violations, suspensions, restrictions, and other information related to driving records. Depending on the state, the records generally go back three to five years, but some may go back farther.
- Credit history, which contains information modified from consumer credit reports about your credit-to-debt ratio, payment history, tax liens, accounts in collections, and bankruptcies. An employment credit background check does not show your credit score.
- Specialized list searches may include global watchlists, sex offender registries, and other databases.
Laws you should know
Local, state, and federal laws may impact how employers use background checks. For example, over 180 states, cities, and counties have Ban the Box laws that limit if and when employers may ask about or consider your criminal history.
The FCRA also requires employers to provide candidates with proper disclosure about their intent to conduct a background check and obtain authorization prior to doing so.
Additionally, the FCRA provides candidates with certain rights, which are summarized in “A Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA.” These include, for example, the right to know what’s in your file and the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If the results of the background check prompt an employer to consider not hiring you, they must notify you by sending a pre-adverse action notice.
In addition to employment background checks, the FCRA applies to other kinds of consumer reports such as your consumer credit report. Individuals can request a free copy of their consumer credit report once per year from each major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Background check companies may also offer services that will allow you to obtain FCRA background checks on yourself.
How to get a background check on yourself
There are three ways to do so: You can get a background check on yourself by using a free background check service, purchasing a background check from a third-party provider, or requesting and compiling the information on your own. If you’re looking to preview a background check on yourself for employment purposes, look for third-party providers that typically run FCRA-compliant background checks for employers.
While the DIY option may sound appealing, it is often more time consuming and expensive than working with a background check company or consumer reporting agency (CRA). While you can request a free copy of your credit report from a credit bureau, you’ll also need to search (and sometimes pay fees for) public records for a comprehensive background check that includes results, such as a criminal background check on yourself.
Checkr offers a free personal background check through our Better Future platform for those with arrest or conviction records. This background check on yourself includes an SSN trace, sex offender search, global watchlist search, national criminal search, and county criminal search.
Get a self background check with Checkr
Reviewing a copy of your personal background check can help you understand what a potential employer or landlord may see, while also giving you the opportunity to proactively correct errors and prepare to provide context, if necessary. Visit Better Future to get a personal background check in three easy steps.
For employers, Checkr offers multiple screening options for comprehensive background checks that help you make more informed hiring decisions. Plus, our advanced platform supports fair chance hiring practices to reduce human bias and ensure candidates have a voice in the hiring process. Get started today.
The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.
About the author
Sara Korolevich serves as checkr.com’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.