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Keeping the Public Safe: The Benefits of Background Checks

Background checks have become an increasingly important tool in society today. These checks are used to investigate the past of an individual in order to provide a clearer understanding of their background, history, and behavior. In many cases, background checks are used to prevent fraud and protect public safety. In this article, we will explore the importance of background checks, how they help prevent fraud, and how they ensure public safety in various sectors of society.

Why are Background Checks Important?

Background checks are important because they provide valuable information that can be used to make informed decisions. They are an essential tool for employers, landlords, and other organizations that need to evaluate potential employees, tenants, or customers. These checks allow them to ascertain if the individual has a criminal record, is involved in any litigation, or if there are any red flags that suggest they might not be a good fit for the job or tenancy.

Background checks can help organizations evaluate risk. It provides them with a clear understanding of any potential liabilities associated with engaging in a transaction with someone. In other words, they reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises and provide a more comprehensive picture of an individual before the hiring or rental process begins.

How do Background Checks Prevent Fraud?

Background checks can help prevent fraud by identifying red flags that indicate someone may be attempting to defraud an individual or company. For example, a background check can reveal if an individual has a history of fraud or embezzlement, is involved in any pending lawsuits involving fraudulent activities, or has a criminal record that includes acts of deception.

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Background checks are also useful when dealing with individuals or companies that have a history of financial problems and have declared bankruptcy. In such cases, background checks help employers, landlords, and other organizations assess the risk of engaging in a financial transaction with such individuals or companies.

How do Background Checks Ensure Public Safety?

Background checks also play a critical role in ensuring public safety. In particular, they are essential in sectors such as law enforcement, education, and healthcare.

In law enforcement, background checks are essential in ensuring that individuals entrusted with safeguarding the community are not themselves a threat to the public. This is particularly important in light of recent examples where members of law enforcement have been found to commit illegal activities while on duty.

Similarly, background checks are critical in the education sector. Any employee that has direct contact with children, such as teachers, must pass a background check under the federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. This is to ensure that convicted criminals or child abusers do not have access to children.

Background checks are also of great importance in the healthcare sector. Patients must have confidence that their medical professionals are qualified to treat them and do not pose a threat to their health and safety. Medical professionals must pass a background check to ensure that they have the appropriate licenses, have not had their license revoked due to malpractice or other disciplinary actions.

Real-Life Examples

The recent high-profile fraud case of Elizabeth Holmes and her blood testing start-up, Theranos, illustrates the importance of background checks. Before starting Theranos, Holmes was a college dropout who had no background or experience in medicine or science. Had thorough background checks been conducted, investors might have been able to prevent the financial ruin that came with their investment in Theranos.

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Another example of background checks preventing fraud is the case of Bernie Madoff. Madoff was a prominent investment advisor who used his charm to convince investors to give him their money, promising high returns. He managed to fool his investors for years while amassing a fortune for himself and his family. Had thorough background checks been conducted, regulators might have discovered much earlier that he was engaging in fraudulent activities.

In the public safety sector, the 2011 Tucson shooting is an example of the importance of background checks. Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter, had been expelled from his community college for disruptive behavior and had a history of mental illness. But none of this was flagged in the background checks for his Arizona gun license, which enabled him to purchase a 9mm Glock handgun, with which he carried out his rampage.


In conclusion, background checks have become an important tool in our society today. They help prevent fraud by identifying red flags that indicate someone may be attempting to deceive an individual or company. They also play a critical role in ensuring public safety, particularly in sectors such as law enforcement, education, and healthcare. Conducting thorough background checks is indispensable for any company, individual or organization planning to engage in a financial transaction or trust someone with public safety. Ultimately, background checks contribute to greater transparency, reduce risk, and help create a safer society for all.

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