When starting a new business or renting out your apartment for the first time, you might be on a tight budget.
Chances are you understand how important background checks are, but you are not sure how much money is reasonable to put aside for that.
At the same time, you want to assure a pleasant, safe and fruitful partnership with every person joining your circle.
But is it possible to achieve this free of charge?
In other words, is there a totally free background check?
And, if so, is it worthwhile?
Let’s dig into that matter.
Is There a Totally Free Background Check?
The answer to this question depends on one’s notion of “free.”
Technically speaking, yes, a totally free background check is possible to achieve.
However, people rarely opt for it because it’s a tiring, complex, and time-consuming process. On top of that, the results may not be as reliable as when paying a professional background check company to do it on your behalf.
And let’s be honest — not everyone enjoys playing Inspector Clouseau!
Still, if at the moment you:
- have some extra time on your hands,
- prefer researching by yourself, and
- trust your investigation skills,
…then, you should proceed with this undertaking.
The following are your background check free databases, tools, and strategies.
How to Do a Free Background Check?
There are several ways to conduct your free research of someone.
The starting point, the flow of research, and the time needed will mostly depend on your leading search objective.
For example, finding someone’s address might take only a few minutes at a couple of easily accessible online sources. On the other hand, a full free employment background check will probably take you on a slightly longer and more complicated journey.
One thing you should always remember is to inform the person in question about your intentions before you start your checks.
Of course, this may not always be possible, like when searching for a long-lost friend’s or a relative’s contact. However, whenever doing a more extensive search that involves sensitive personal and professional data, you are in a moral and legal obligation to do so. An example of this is doing a pre-employment background check or tenant screening on someone.
Getting the candidate’s written consent is also highly advisable.
After that, you are ready to look up someone for free.
So let’s now run through your search options and tools together!
Google and other search engines
Google is the best place to start any search.
Sure, it doesn’t know everything about everyone, but you can find a fair amount of information by just entering someone’s name and address. And, If the person you are looking for is anyhow distinguished, or their name has appeared in the papers, you can find this out within seconds.
Aside from that, via Google and most other search engines, you can discover information such as:
- personal data and images
- professional bios and websites
- social media profiles
- youtube videos and podcast
And that is already valuable free background search content!
Even more importantly, Google will tell you where to look.
For all the information it doesn’t have or is not allowed to disclose, Google will refer you to other sources. And while these types of suggestions are not always 100% verified, they are worth a try.
After all, most Google searches are free and almost effortless.
Similar to Google, social networks can reveal a lot nowadays.
And while you won’t exactly be able to verify someone’s references or perform a free criminal record check, you could run someone’s brief professional whereabouts scan.
People like to post their school achievements, career changes, and promotions online.
Not to mention personal information, interests, and hobbies about which some create daily updates. Sometimes even, after only visiting a few different social media profiles of a person, you’ll get the feeling like you already know them.
Of course, this is not always the case.
Some people don’t have social media accounts, to begin with. Others keep them strictly private or use them on rare occasions.
But in any case, this strategy could be worthwhile as well.
The major social network sites to include in your free background check online with no charge whatsoever are:
When hiring someone new to join your company or complete an important task, consulting Google and social media networks alone is far from enough. The more responsible the job, the more extensive your search should be.
But is there a free criminal background check?
Numerous online databases promise accurate, safe, and free criminal history lookup. Unfortunately, they are not always genuine. And very often, they end up asking for fees in the final stages of your search (as a condition for displaying the results).
To avoid these hidden risks, prioritize the official government databases.
These may not be as user-friendly as some private databases, but they are typically more accurate, and there is no fiddling with fees.
The National Center for State Courts is such a criminal database.
Keep in mind, though, that a typical free national criminal database search is rarely flawless as well.
As it happens:
- You have to load each state record individually.
- Various discrepancies can happen, especially when a person is changing multiple addresses within a short period.
- And, no one can tell for sure how often the national databases’ updates take place.
Aside from criminal databases, various other personal records are publicly available and free of charge.
- court records
- state prison records
- driving records
- bankruptcy history and similar
But, how to find these public records without paying a cent?
These are usually not very difficult to find online if you know which state and county to research. Most local jurisdictions have official websites that are accessible through a simple Google search. All you need to do is type:
State + county + court records
Once you are happy with the website choice, you can add the name of the person whose files you are interested in. Also, if you’re familiar with any other state and county that the person has lived in, even shortly, you may want to check these as well.
State prison records
Similarly, all you’ll need for the state prison public data check are the relevant website and the person’s name and address. Type on Google:
State + correction inmates
After the official website appears, enter the person’s full name and the city. Again, try all the addresses that you know the person had stayed at. The more cities you include, the better your chances of finding the necessary data.
As for the driving records, these are accessible through the state’s official Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) websites.
However, to complete the free record search, you might need some additional information, aside from the name and the address, such as license plates.
Bear in mind that each DMV has different policies, types of records, and transcripts, some of which may be chargeable.
Bankruptcy and credit reports
You can look up the most publicly available bankruptcy reports and similar information on the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website.
However, while creating the account is free, the service itself is not completely out of charge.
Still, the 10 cents per page for each transcription ($3 being the maximum amount to pay) is nothing more than a symbolic fee.
Annual credit reports — performing a free background check on yourself
Did you know that you are entitled to a free credit score check once a year?
The three largest credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, offer this service for customers each year, as demanded by the law.
So why not use the opportunity and perform your free credit record lookup yearly?
This service can come in particularly useful when planning a new loan or trying to fix your credit score. Checking where you currently stand financially before applying for any type of financing is always a good idea.
Of course, you can do these checks more frequently than once a year. However, each subsequent time the service is chargeable.
Are there any free background check sites?
Similar to most free online databases, various free background check sites promise a complete and 100% free background check.
These, too, more often than not, fail to live up to their promise.
Truth be told, anyone who knows how to do a background check understands that such a compound task requires a considerable amount of time and resources.
And all that costs.
Therefore, unless you come across a reliable public website, such as Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, financed by the government, chances are you will still have to cover a part of the expenses.
Not only that but the information you get will be limited and incomplete in most free online background checks.
So if you’re in a rush and you need as accurate and as extensive information as possible, you may want to consider some of the expert background screening agencies instead.
Free Background Checks vs Paid Background Check Services
If you want to skip personally checking over 3,000 counties of the US and going through various free databases and records, you could opt for paid background screening.
It sounds like just the thought of it could somehow extract the money out of your pocket!
But let’s assure you, it only sounds like that.
How much does a background check cost?
Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get an accurate and thorough background check.
There are various professional background screening software solutions like Verispy that offer a free trial and transparent pricing. Others, like USSearch and BeenVerified, operate at very affordable prices and even accept valid refund requests.
Meanwhile, the average cost of a single background check typically ranges from $5 to $100, depending on the nature of the screening and the service providers’ price lists.
As anticipated, with the piling up of different services, the costs will pile up too. And so, a well-rounded and exhaustive background check cost could exceed $500.
Another thing worth mentioning is that different search agencies offer tailored plans to better fit the user’s needs. Usually, you can either opt for a cheap one-time service, after which your next search will cost more. Or you could make a monthly or yearly subscription, suitable for large companies with a significant turnover rate.
All in all, you could still pay an insignificant amount even for a professional background check if you opt for an affordable agency and carefully weigh your needs.
Ultimately, the cheapest background check is a thoughtful background check!
Pros and cons of free background checks
The biggest pro of each free background report is, well, that is…
But let’s look at this table and remind ourselves of other significant pros and cons of these types of checks.
|More private (if done by yourself)||Less extensive|
|More freedom throughout the search||Less accurate|
|You can follow your instinct||Time-consuming|
|Can be stressful|
|Hidden fees (common with a free background check conducted online)|
Pros and cons of paid background checks
And then there are chargeable background checks pros and cons.
|More extensive||The agency gets insight into your search|
|Greater accuracy||Your search can get limited by costs|
|Time-efficient||Your search can get limited by the agency’s scope of the investigation|
|Variety of pricing plans to choose from|
What Are Some Cheap Background Check Options?
Possibly the best compromise between reliable but pricey professional investigations and tiring free public record search is — an affordable background check agency.
We’ve chosen three such agencies for you based on their:
- ease of use
Rated with A+ by the Better Business Bureau, PeopleFinders is among the most trusted background search providers in the US.
The company exists since 1999, and it has managed to gather an impressive database in the meantime. Over 43 billion public records and 6,000 data sources give you all the chances for a highly successful search. You can start a direct online screening or download the app for a search on the go.
And while PeopleFinders doesn’t offer completely free background check options, nearly everyone can afford it at a starting price of $1,95 per report. If you sign up for a three-day trial, this price drops to $0.95.
Signing up for a trial period will cost you just $3.95. And, the cancelation fee if you change your mind is $2.95. After this trial period, your account will automatically switch to a $24.95 monthly subscription.
However, you can always opt for a full one-time background check at a reasonable price of $29.95.
So if, for example, you compare conducting a free public criminal record check with all the possibilities that PeopleFinders offer, you will find that free screenings may not be worth it.
Another highly affordable ally on your research path, PeopleSmart, offers a 7-days trial for a symbolic price of $1.
Well, that’s almost as good as a background check for free.
Not to mention the massive database and its straightforward usage.
So instead of wasting days and possibly weeks on researching every single relevant county court file, retrieve official digital courthouse records within a couple of minutes. Aside from that, you can run a property check or reverse phone lookup in no time.
After the trial period, the monthly subscription costs $29.29 plus tax.
GoodHire may not be among the cheapest background check companies online.
But if time is money, you’re up to a great save!
Especially if you’re running a big corporation in which you have to check dozens of candidates daily, the service that GoodHire provides is close to irreplaceable. You get to choose from more than 100 pre-employment screening options and services. Besides, you get access to most US county records within only a couple of minutes.
And the best thing of all, the company is FCRA-compliant. So, all your searches will be following the law. Meanwhile, not even the best free background check can assure you of this.
And this is another considerable saving factor.
On another plus side, GoodHire offers three different plans to choose from. The lowest start at $29.99 a month, so you don’t have to spend a lot unless necessary.
Is there a totally free background check?
Yes, there is.
But is it totally worth it in terms of your efforts, time invested, and final results?
Still, one can have valid personal reasons for insisting on a completely free background check, and we can only respect that.
If you’re one of these people, just remember to put everything on paper first.
- unverified websites’ hidden fees
- transportation fees (in case you have to visit any of the official institutions in person)
- and most importantly — how much would making a wrong hiring decision cost your company in the long run?
Only after you’re 100% sure that you can indeed run a free background check, or at least one that is cheaper than the cheapest on the market, should you go ahead with it.
You can find personal information about someone through different online search engines, on social media, and within official public databases and records. Some websites promise free background searches as well, but they are not very reliable.
The simplest way to run a free background check on yourself is simply googling your name. After that, you can check your county and state’s official databases and criminal history records. Additionally, you can obtain a free credit report once a year from the largest credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
The best free background check sites are usually the government websites such as Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. Although you will probably have to combine several such websites to get a full background report, they are usually more accurate, and no hidden fees apply.
Social media can help you in detecting a catfish for free. Combine your search across several different social networks and see if the results are matching. If there are too many discrepancies, too little information, no photos, and the person contacting you is not picking up a video call, most probably you’re being catfished.
Most criminal court records are public and accessible for free. You can try to access them online, or you can personally go to the relevant court.
In other words, is there a totally free background check? One that is per law and delivers reliable results? Technically yes, free background checks performed in a legit way do exist. However, they often include complicated and time-consuming methods such as checking various national databases.