·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


Background Checks: Why We Need Them and How to Get One Done

— January 21, 2020

The most common users of background checks are of course recruiters, interviewers, managers, and company owners.

We hear so much about online privacy and security these days, that it’s easy to forget how difficult it would be to remain physically secure in the real world if we did not know who we are hiring, or which one of the neighbors is a known sex offender. The availability of online background checks via public records is something that most of us don’t even realize we may need, until we actually do! 

Going through the following should make it more apparent as to why background checks and the online availability of public records are required.

Safe Recruitment

The most common users of background checks are of course recruiters, interviewers, managers, and company owners. There are a number of reasons why checking the background of an employee is not optional, but a critical aspect of the recruitment process.

The causes as mentioned below should help in understanding why background checks are considered to be an important step in recruitment today:

  • It helps them keep individuals with a violent/sexual criminal charge out of the office
  • Checks reveal if a potential candidate has a history of theft, B&E, robbery, illegal hacking, etc. that can compromise financial and/or physical safety in the office

It’s unfair to state that all past convicts are beyond redemption and they should not be given a job, but that is a variable sentiment. Some situations and work environments are just not suited for certain ex-cons, while at others, their record may not even be relevant in relation to the job on offer. Either way, the employer has the right to know who they are hiring and then decide accordingly.

Effective Recruitment

A candidate doesn’t have to be an ex-con to be unsuitable for the job, because they can very well be just incompetent! In order for any recruitment process to be successful, employers should have all background data on the candidate. The following points are all essential attributes of effective hiring, made possible via background checks only:

  • Infractions such as a poor credit score and massive unpaid debts indicate that the applicant is ill-suited to handle money
  • DUI is a criminal offence and a background check will reveal that
  • Hiring a driver/truck driver with a past DUI record may hold the employer legally liable if they are in an accident on the job
  • The employer can verify if the applicant really has the education/experience they are claiming to have

Background checks may also reveal positive attributes about applicants that may actually even make them a better candidate for the job. The only factor to keep in mind is that there are legal limitations on how much of what employers are allowed to check, but as long as its’s a matter of public record, it’s legal to go through it.

Safety in the Neighborhood

In light of the recent uprisings in crime rates across some sections of the country, one can’t really take too many safety measures these days. A neighbor with a history of violence, robbery, sexual offence, etc. is a much more severe cause for worry than an ex-con employee.

Most people try to be on their best behavior at work, but the chances of them going back to their old ways are much higher when they come back home. The best-case scenario to avoid any untoward scenarios in the neighborhood is to remain aware by doing a background check on anyone in the vicinity who seems like a cause for concern.

Handcuffs and key sitting on fingerprint card; image by Bill Oxford, via
Handcuffs and key sitting on fingerprint card; image by Bill Oxford, via

Sites like provide citizens and companies with access to the best public records websites available, so that they can find almost any information about anyone suspicious. Some of the many features that these background checking websites can help citizens with are as follows:

  • Criminal records (robbers, murderers, thieves, sexual predators, etc.)
  • Noncriminal legal violations
  • Address details of people you have lost touch with
  • Contact info, including social media accounts, email addresses and phone numbers
  • Dating profiles
  • Death records
  • Financial records
  • Records on the dark web
  • Name search
  • Property search
  • Location search
  • Email search
  • Phone number search

When you conduct a background check, review the guidelines and check that you respect the other person’s confidentiality. 

Safety at Home

Babysitters are hired all the time, as both parents usually have their own jobs and responsibilities to which they must attend. A simple background check can provide parents with the peace of mind they need. If someone is going to take care of the children, it only makes sense that to do a thorough check on their history, arrest records, and such.

The same applies for nannies, caretakers, pet sitters, cooks, gardeners and just about anybody who is allowed access inside one’s residence on a regular basis. Knowing who the stranger in one’s home is should be considered a priority for reasons not dissimilar to the ones which make employers verify their aspiring applicants. Even temporary workers such as the construction crew during a renovation, or a couple of roofers before a new roof installation, should all be checked for criminal records before leaving them alone in one’s home.

Safe Purchasing/Selling of Property

Property of significant value may, at times, attract the attention of fraudulent criminals. A background check helps both sellers and buyers avoid criminals, and it may help in revealing or assuring the following:

  • Peace of mind, when the seller/buyer knows that the other party is genuine
  • Avoidance of future legal/criminal/financial/ownership conflicts
  • Shady, disreputable sellers/buyers can be easily identified and avoided
  • A simple but direct property search reveals hidden information about its history
  • Identification of excellent investment opportunities

Safety in Relationships

Unfortunately, the rate of violence in relationships has only increased in the last two years. An abusive husband or wife can be devastating for one’s life, and so can a single night of unexpected domestic violence. Before committing to anybody permanently, ensure that you know them well enough, but most importantly, check the public records to see if they have any of the following:

  • Record for violence, domestic abuse
  • Poor credit report – it can give them ulterior motives for dating you
  • Any kind of criminal records

The decision to not take this simple measure can cause a lifetime of suffering for not just the partner, but also any children that may come from the relationship in the future.

Safety in the Government

The government is often scrutinized for keeping tabs on everybody, but there is no denying that they must practice due diligence in choosing important employees without any blemishes in their background. It’s a matter of national security, and background checks are often the most thorough in such recruitments.

One does not need to be a CIA agent to compromise national safety, because even an ill-reputed police officer can be a bad choice for taking up leadership positions later on. The same goes for everyone from politicians to military officers. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to do a background check on your local candidates before voting. No campaign will reveal as much of the truth about every candidate as a proper background check will.

Safety from Scammers and Frauds

If you have anything of value, it isn’t unlikely for scammers and frauds to look you up and target you specifically. It doesn’t happen only when someone is trying to sell or buy something, but can happen at any time and in a variety of situations. Some of the examples below should provide a bit of insight regarding the kind of scams and frauds that we should all be aware of:

  • Get rich quick scams
  • Identity thieves
  • Fraudulent websites
  • Door-to-door impostors
  • Phone scammers
  • Email scams
  • Social media scams

Anytime anybody calls, emails, messages or contacts you or someone close to you with an “opportunity,” do a background check on everything about them to be absolutely sure. Run searches on their property, address, name, reputation, registration, licenses, etc. and if they are scammers, public records will either reveal them, or simply won’t have any records on them.

Verifiability in Litigation

An attorney will often use background checks for the following reasons:

  • To provide credit to his/her own witnesses/client
  • To discredit the opposition and their witnesses

They are important legal tools used with precision by lawyers all the time to appeal for or against the testimonials to a jury or the judge.

As should be common knowledge, there are legal limitations to how much one can find out about someone for any reason. Even more importantly, a lot of the information revealed can, at times, not be cited as cause for action.

A good instance of that would be the legal stipulation which does not allow employers to check their applicant’s/employee’s credit records without their permission. If not having access to an applicant’s credit report and hiring them for the job is in conflict, then you have pertinent cause to either ask them for their permission for a credit check, or deny them the position. If the employee/applicant doesn’t have anything to hide, they will not hesitate to sign a no objection document either.

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