Cyber Background Check: What is it & How Does it Work?
Michelle Wilson - March 19, 2022
Understanding your digital footprint is critical to staying safe with more information available online than ever before. The reasons for performing a cyber background check vary but can offer great insight into a person’s character, potential threats, or other critical factors that might influence how you interact with a candidate.
Regardless of the purpose of completing these checks, understanding how it works and what you’ll be able to discover is paramount. After all, knowing how to uncover the details you’re looking for effectively can save you hours of time, frustration, and large sums of money finding useless information about an individual.
Table of Contents
When to Perform a Cyber Background Check
Having a complete understanding of when it’s acceptable to run a cyber background check and when it’s against the law must be the starting point in any search. Never use a platform to discriminate, stalk, or harass an individual. Gaining this information is against the law and could land you in hot water. If you’re a landlord or employer, you’ll want to run a specific background check to accommodate state or federal conditions. Employers must have written permission to perform a background check on an applicant, making it a separate search overall.
If you’re simply curious about an individual, there’s nothing wrong with performing a cyber background check or online record search. Reasons might include searching for a lost friend, family member, or lover. Perhaps you’re trying to minimize threats within your local community and want to ensure the character of someone moving in. Ensure you’re following the law and always respect the privacy of others as you use the search functionality.
Understanding How a Cyber Background Check Works
There are plenty of background check companies available online, but not all are created equally. Many promise valuable insights about an individual, luring you into an outlandish fee while ultimately revealing nothing of interest. Choosing a reliable and reputable company is essential to a high-quality report. To ensure the information is accurate, follow these four steps to perform a record search online.
Visit a Background Check Company
One of the easiest ways to perform a cyber background check is to use an online company. Look for a company that offers comprehensive screening, pulling information from various sources. Areas of concern might include financial records, social media accounts, previous criminal history, and motor vehicle history.
Before purchasing the report, gather any information you have on hand. The more information you know about an individual, the easier your search will be overall. Search results may not be as accurate with basic details, like first and last name – especially when the name is common.
A word of caution:
A few background check companies will offer you a severely discounted price to lure you into the process, only to subsequently blast you with a high monthly membership, complicated cancelation process, or hidden fees. Make sure you carefully review any terms or conditions with the background report before purchasing.
Enter the Information Online
When visiting CheckPeople.com, you’ll see a search bar at the top of the home page. Enter the first name, last name, and geographic location of the person you’re trying to search. This search functionality is how you begin a cyber background check.
After a few moments, the system will load the names of anyone matching the name and location you chose. Click on the correct candidate to continue to cyber search online. This review process is where additional information can benefit the user. Although only the first and last name is required, having the current or previous location of the individual can make the search process more efficient.
Finalize the Process
Once you’ve chosen the correct candidate, the information gathering begins. CheckPeople requires all users to complete an informed consent record during this time, which confirms all users agree to receive the information. After completing the consent, the automated algorithms will begin pulling data from databases. Most records finalize within five minutes, although some may take longer.
Viewing the Record
The cyber background report details multiple components, including contact information, courthouse records, or previous arrest records. Every company will offer different elements within their report, so carefully review the file. Once the system finalizes the account, you’ll have direct access to the PDF file.
What’s Included in a Cyber Background Check?
Searching through public records is the easiest way to compile a comprehensive report. If the information is public, it is included in the cyber report service. These records will often include:
- Arrest reports and criminal records
- Civil records and lawsuits
- Liens or bankruptcies on file
- Traffic reports or DMV records
- Any phone book listings
You’ll also find additional components that aren’t included in traditional database records. These details are specific to the individual, depending on their personal information. Some examples include:
- Complete names of the individual (including prior names)
- Current contact information on file, including current and prior addresses
- Immediate family members and distant relatives
- Documented marriage and divorce records
- Any registered social media accounts
- Active dating profiles registered to the contact information on file
Other Methods of Running a Cyber Background Check
Using a Search Engine
While the fastest search method is through an automated service, learning pieces of information through search engines is another common tactic. Quickly perform a Google search of the individual to pull up any relevant information about the candidate online. Results may include any social media accounts, company profiles, or contact information registered online.
The drawback to this method is minimal transparency. Using a search engine will merely show if a user has a registered account. Performing a comprehensive screening through a registered company can offer a clear indication of whether an individual is active on social media.
Additionally, Google is more likely to show any recent photos, videos, or media attached to a profile or username. It also tracks online information through third-party websites (for example, news websites or obituaries). While Google won’t tell you everything you’d like to know about someone, it’s a good starting point for basic information.
Use Government Resources
Many government resources are available online, giving your cyber background check more information than a search engine. Using the USA.gov website, users can search through the National Archives to pull specific information. It’s important to remember that not all records are available online; many archives require a visit to the courthouse to locate the records attached to an individual.
A cyber background check offers a quick snapshot of an individual’s history. They bring forward all public records into an easy-to-read report, submitting a comprehensive review of anyone on your radar. These details often include financial discovery, criminal history, and social media accounts online. Always make sure you’re pulling the record legally and refrain from harassing, bothering, or threatening someone based on the results of their report.