Is There a Totally Free Background Check?
Michelle Wilson - November 25, 2023
Many different websites and platforms are offering free background checks online, without account creation or credit card numbers. These websites promise to investigate all aspects of an individual’s history, but many focus on providing a comprehensive screening in minutes. Unfortunately, these free background check websites can leave holes in an individual’s history that don’t occur with paid services.
While websites offer free background checks, it isn’t ideal for anyone making critical decisions with the results. These platforms aren’t necessarily problematic, but they don’t hold the same level of detail required to make educated decisions.
Table of Contents
What is a Background Check?
A background check allows an individual to review another person’s background carefully. The background check will collect information using databases and networks of details, compiling all the contents into a comprehensive report. Most background checks will include personal identity verification, credit reports, criminal history, lawsuits, judgments, and any public record available. Many websites offer these services free of charge, while others charge a fee for the service. Although it may seem better to use the free background screening, these two services aren’t created equal overall.
Reasons to Avoid a Free Background Check Website
There are several reasons to avoid a free background check, although the concern may vary depending on the basis for running the report. These reasons include:
Minimal Focus on Accuracy
Anyone using a free background check must understand the minimal level of accuracy within the results. Most reports will return disclaimers or warnings about the accuracy within the file, including a liability should the details be inaccurate. These details don’t guarantee the data is incorrect, but it places the risk on the individual ordering the report.
There are times when things go wrong when ordering a background screening. For instance, the results within the background report may be disputed by the applicant. In these situations, the individual who ran the free background check is held accountable. With paid background screenings, the client will often have the company responsible for the inaccuracy. In many situations, the background check company will offer a free verification of disputed results. Free platforms can’t hold the same reliability, putting the onus on the client instead.
Automated Search Results Without Human Consideration
With most free criminal background check websites, searches run automatically. These screens are generated automatically, without using human evaluation to pass the report. These algorithms will scan various databases before returning the piece, often available to the user within seconds. Unfortunately, a computer-generated report can’t identify subtleties (such as similar names, for example). Without human review, the probability of mismatched information increases, reporting the criminal history of someone else with a similar name.
No Verifications or Vetting on the Report
Free background checks will never verify or properly source the information provided. A vetting process will require multiple information sources to compare the results found. Frequently, the investigative work to confirm these details takes money and time to complete. If you purchase a free report, you can almost guarantee that no verification effort is made.
No Legal Compliance
Running a background check often comes with serious legal ramifications if done incorrectly. The slightest error can lead to expensive lawsuits and litigation. Many background check websites understand these legal ramifications, pushing the highest form of compliance within the company. Many reputable companies will offer tips for clients to ensure legal compliance.
A free background check offers no guarantee of compliance, particularly when running a simple information check. The simple information check includes birthday, location, name, and phone number. There is no need to verify or confirm an individual’s authorization for free background checks.
Limited Sources of Report Information
Most free background websites will source their details from public information. These websites will often scan through digitally accessible documents without cross-referencing non-digital records. With free platforms, the time and effort required to evaluate non-digital records isn’t an option. As there isn’t income coming from the report, no one is available to scan through the results. As a result, the detail within a free check isn’t exhaustive or complete.
No Guarantee of Expertise
Creating a high-quality background check requires extensive levels of experience and expertise. A few people are skilled in hiding undesirable information from their past. To uncover this information, the background website needs to hold profound knowledge of the vetting process and legal compliance. Malicious actors will often hide previous criminal records, change names, or offer false financial accounts to fabricate the results of a background investigation.
Unfortunately, free background checks can’t guarantee their expertise. Often, professional experience comes at a cost, which isn’t available with a free background check. For websites without compensation for the report, there’s less inclination to ensure accuracy. For platforms charging for background reports, clients can request references, credentials, and affiliations of anyone running the screening process.
Using a Free Background Check Website is Legally Questionable
Many laws and regulations currently exist to protect consumers from unlawful background checks within the United States. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that all background checks receive written authorization before running the screening. One implication of anyone using a free background check is the individual getting sued for using the service. For a reputable company, the background check service will include reminders of compliance and written consent.
Unfortunately, using a free platform isn’t a great idea. Although it may seem financially advantageous, the potential problems when using a free network far outweigh its cost-effectiveness. This is particularly true when considering reliability, completeness, and accuracy.
Looking at the Difference Between Free and Paid Websites
While many individuals could argue the same potential issues for paid background checks, clients can take specific and actionable measures to increase the likelihood of reliable results. This reliability is particularly crucial for critical decisions.
If you need a reliable background screening, avoid free background checks. Prioritize finding reputable and compliant companies. Although many reputable companies charge a fee for their service, the security outweighs any cost attached to the service. Paid companies will include a manual review of the background report, ensuring all records relate to the proper individual. Likewise, non-digital records are regularly reviewed to confirm identity, offering a clear picture of the background report overall.
With constantly changing and shifting laws and regulations relating to personal information, opting for a free platform for background screening is ultimately an unwise decision. Many free reports only include small portions of the individual’s record, which may prevent you from making an educated decision.
Likewise, minimal information included with free websites could open a user to legal consequences. Although saving money should always remain a concern overall, sacrificing the security of paid platforms is often not worth the risk of your investment.