Discreet Investigation Service

Professional Background Checks vs. Free Online Background Checks


In today's world, there is a belief that the Internet can be used to find out anything and everything. Although it is a very useful tool, this is not always correct. While you can use the Internet to find out a lot of information about a person, most of the information you need to complete a background check cannot be found online. Often times, what is deemed public information is mistaken for being widely available online, and the websites out there that offer “full background searches” for $19.99 do not help to stop this misconception.

Although using a private investigator to conduct a background check is not as quick and inexpensive as the Internet, at least you will get the results you are looking for. What you are getting with these cheap or free online background checks is nothing but general information, such as what a person would submit when they apply for a grocery store rewards or savings card, with the addition of basic state civil court information.

The most common things associated with a background check are:

  • Criminal records
  • Driving records/history
  • Marriage/divorce records
  • Birth records
  • Employment history
  • Assets

Cheap online background check sites claim to give you all of this information and more for one low fee, which is simply not accurate. Criminal records must be recorded on a state-by-state basis, and each state has a different process, which usually revolves around one of the state's law enforcement bureaus. The caveat is that none of these bureaus provide criminal records to one single public database, and on average, each state charges about $50 per criminal record. Furthermore, the only national criminal database is called the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and only law enforcement has access to it, without exception.

All personal records related to driving are handled through the DMV, and all 50 states have regulations surrounding the acquisition of these records.

Although there is no special form for divorce records, there is also no database that stores all of these records, and they must be done state by state; marriage records are slightly different and usually are done town by town. Birth records are only obtainable in limited situations, regardless of the state, and are not deemed public records.

There is no database that stores employment history; the only way to obtain a person’s job history is to do so on an individual basis.

Asset searches are based on the individual and the state, and like with employment history, there is no such thing as an assets database. Knowing how to find information on a person’s assets is a professional skill, not one which a cheap online background check can accurately provide in 30 seconds.

The takeaway here is to remember most of the information discovered in an employee or criminal background check has a fee attached to it, usually a fee upwards of $50, so there is no way a free online data search can provide you with the information you need to accurately complete a background check. It's also important to remember that these sites are not private investigators; they are considered data brokers, which are currently unregulated. If you want a fair background investigation, and an honest answer as to what can be obtained from a background check, call a licensed and regulated private investigation agency.