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From Social Media to Court Records: How Background Check Services Source and Verify Information

How do background check services use publicly available data and other sources to conduct their searches? How accurate are the results of background checks?

Background checks have become increasingly important in various fields from employment to housing applications, dating to legal cases, among others. A background check is an investigation process of a person's history covering education, employment, criminal records, and credit history, among others. It aims to reveal any potential risks or negative actions a person may have before engagement.

To conduct a background check, service providers rely on publicly available data and other sources such as private databases, social media, local and state courts, credit bureaus, and other third-party sources. They combine various data points to create a comprehensive report about an individual. While background check service providers aim to provide accurate results, several factors can affect the accuracy of their findings.

How do background check services use publicly available data and other sources to conduct their searches?

Publicly available data comprises any publicly accessible records, including online and offline sources. Background check services rely on these records to verify individuals' identity, criminal records, civil records, education history, and employment records, among others.

Various federal, state, and local databases serve as data sources for background check companies. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) databases contain criminal records available to state and local law enforcement jurisdictions. Additionally, local and state courts provide records of criminal and civil proceedings.

Private databases such as Intelius, Instant Checkmate, BeenVerified, and Truthfinder among others, also serve as sources for information on individuals. They offer their information to background check companies at a fee. Such databases may encompass various types of data such as criminal records, professional licenses, phone numbers, and social security numbers.

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Beyond publicly available data and private databases, background checks utilize other sources such as social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to trace information that might otherwise not be available in official sources. A person's online presence combined with publicly available data and private databases can reveal significant information that could be crucial in a background check.

How accurate are the results of background checks?

While background check service providers aim to provide accurate results, there are potential challenges to their accuracy. One possible source of error is the incompleteness of data used in background checks. If a database does not contain a record of a person's past, it might result in an incomplete report. Also, some public records lack the proper context or need proper interpretation. For instance, someone could have been arrested, but the case was later dismissed, leaving an incorrect impression.

Moreover, a background check provider might face difficulty in verifying a person's identity. With data available without proper human verification, possible inaccuracies may occur in the process. Also, with the use of social media, it is challenging to validate user-generated data as authentic.

Lastly, background checks involve making decisions based on the information provided. As such, the evaluator could misinterpret information or fail to weigh critical information adequately, which could influence their decision.

Challenges of How do background check services use publicly available data and other sources to conduct their searches? How accurate are the results of background checks and How to Overcome Them

The service providers need to overcome some challenges to ensure the accuracy of their reports. One of the most significant obstacles is identifying which data is relevant, authentic, and up-to-date. This requires seeking information from multiple sources and evaluating it for inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

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To combat incomplete data, service providers use multiple data points and databases to create a comprehensive report. Employers or landlords should ensure they provide accurate information and necessary details to ensure that their report remains accurate.

Service providers can leverage technologies such as machine learning to ensure accuracy by identifying patterns and providing real-time updates. This will ensure the background check report remains current.

Service providers should also ensure they follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which mandates certain procedures that companies must follow when conducting background checks. FCRA protects job applicants and employees by requiring that employers notify candidates before obtaining or using the background check report. Candidates also have the right to dispute findings found in the background check.

Best Practices for Managing How do background check services use publicly available data and other sources to conduct their searches? How accurate are the results of background checks

Transparent disclosure policies are essential. Employers or landlords should make it clear to an applicant that a background check will be conducted and obtain their consent. The potential employee or tenant also has the right to dispute any findings and express their position on the matter.

Reviewing each report on a case-by-case basis and with due diligence is crucial for accuracy. Employers or landlords should verify records from other sources, double-checking for incomplete records or records that cannot be verified through multiple sources. Utilizing multiple data sources ensures the accuracy of the report.

Employers also need to understand the parameters of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which sets forth the requirements that should be followed when using third-party data for background checks in employment.

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Background checks are vital in reducing the risk associated with engaging certain individuals. The process of conducting background checks involves utilizing publicly available data, private databases, social media, among other third-party sources. Service providers use multiple data points to generate comprehensive reports with a high level of accuracy. However, there are potential challenges such as incomplete data and inaccuracies in interpreting information. Employers and landlords should be vigilant in ensuring that the information provided is accurate and that the process follows the FCRA guidelines. With proper procedures and practices, background check services could provide reliable and essential information to their clients.

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