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Taking Control: How to Access Your Own Background Check Information

# How Can You Get a Copy of Your Own Background Check?

Everyone has a past. Whether it’s a record of employment, education, or criminal history, our personal background plays a crucial role in many aspects of our lives. From applying for a job to renting an apartment, various situations call for a background check. But have you ever wondered what information is collected in these checks and how you can get a copy of your own? In this article, we will guide you through the process of accessing your own background check, empowering you with the knowledge you need.

## Understanding Background Checks

Before we dive into the process, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of what a background check is. A background check is a thorough examination of an individual's personal, professional, and sometimes criminal history. It involves collecting information from various sources, such as public records, court documents, and databases, to create a comprehensive profile.

Background checks typically reveal information such as employment history, educational qualifications, credit history, and any criminal records. Employers, landlords, and other entities may request a background check to evaluate an individual's suitability for a job or tenancy and ensure the safety and well-being of their organization or community.

## 1. Start with a Self-Background Check

The first step in obtaining a copy of your background check is to perform a self-background check. This will give you an idea of what information is available to potential employers or anyone else performing a background check on you. By knowing what information is out there, you can be better prepared to address any issues that may arise.

To start a self-background check, you can consider the following actions:

### a. Search Online Databases:

Start by searching online databases that provide access to public records. Websites like PublicRecordsNow, Instant Checkmate, or BeenVerified allow you to search for your own name and view certain details of your background, such as addresses, phone numbers, and criminal records. While this information may not be as comprehensive as an official background check, it gives you a starting point to assess what potential employers might find.

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### b. Request a Copy from Previous Employers:

If you've worked for different companies in the past, it's worth reaching out to them and requesting a copy of any background checks that were performed during your employment. Some companies may keep records for a certain period, and by law, you have the right to request access to your personal information.

### c. Check Your Credit Report:

Financial institutions use credit reports to determine an individual's creditworthiness. Ordering a copy of your credit report from credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion can allow you to see if any negative information exists. Though it may not cover all aspects of a comprehensive background check, it does shed light on your financial history.

### d. Review Your Social Media Profiles:

In today's digital age, social media plays a significant role in shaping people's perception. Take a moment to review your social media presence objectively, removing any potentially damaging content. Remember, employers often search for candidates online, so ensure your online profiles reflect your personal and professional values.

## 2. Legal Rights and Background Check Companies

Now that you have conducted a self-background check and analyzed the available information, it's time to understand your legal rights and navigate the process of accessing a comprehensive background check.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that governs background checks performed by third-party companies. Under the FCRA, an individual has the right to request and receive a copy of their background check report. This report is prepared by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) that specialize in collecting and providing background information.

To obtain your background check, follow these steps:

### a. Identify the Consumer Reporting Agency:

Start by identifying the specific consumer reporting agency or agencies that may have your background check on file. There are several widely recognized CRAs, such as HireRight, Sterling, and Checkr. However, keep in mind that different companies may work with different agencies, so you may need to research the agency used by a particular organization.

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### b. Submit a Written Request:

Once you have identified the relevant agency, submit a written request to obtain a personal copy of your background check. Ensure your request includes all necessary details, such as your full name, contact information, and any relevant identification numbers that may be required for verification purposes.

### c. Include Supporting Documentation:

To strengthen your request, consider including any supporting documentation that may be relevant to the background check. For example, if you were wrongly accused of a crime and have since been acquitted, providing court documents to support your claim can help ensure accuracy and fairness.

### d. Pay the Applicable Fees:

Some CRAs may charge a fee for processing your request. The fees vary depending on the agency and the extent of the background check. Make sure to review their fee structure and include any applicable payment. However, be cautious of potential scams or fraudulent websites claiming to offer background checks for a fee, as legitimate CRAs should be reputable and well-established.

## 3. Reviewing and Disputing Your Background Check

Once you receive your background check report, read through it carefully. Note any incorrect or outdated information that may be detrimental to your reputation or employment prospects. If you discover any discrepancies or errors, take immediate action to dispute and correct them.

Under the FCRA, you have the right to file a dispute with the consumer reporting agency and the specific organization that provided the information. Follow these steps when disputing your background check:

### a. Document the Errors:

Create a detailed record of the errors, including timestamps, descriptions of the inaccuracies, and any supporting evidence you may have. This documentation will help build your case and strengthen your dispute.

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### b. Communicate with the Reporting Agency:

Notify the consumer reporting agency that you intend to dispute the inaccurate information. Include all supporting documentation and clearly describe the errors in your communication. This can typically be done through regular mail or electronically, depending on the agency's preferred method of contact.

### c. Contact the Provider of the Information:

Inform the organization that provided the inaccurate information about the dispute. This could be a previous employer, educational institution, or any other entity mentioned in your background check. Provide them with the same documentation and explain why the information is incorrect or outdated.

### d. Follow-Up and Keep Records:

Stay on top of your dispute by keeping a record of all interactions with the consumer reporting agency and the provider of the incorrect information. Follow up regularly to ensure your dispute is being resolved in a timely manner.

By taking these steps, you can ensure the accuracy and fairness of your background check, safeguarding your reputation and future opportunities.

## Conclusion

Obtaining a copy of your background check can be an important step in understanding the information available to potential employers and others who may be evaluating your suitability for various opportunities. By conducting a self-background check, understanding your legal rights, and disputing any inaccurate information, you can ensure a fair and accurate representation of your background. Remember, your past does not define you, but having the ability to correct any errors empowers you to shape your future.

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