Checking up on someone not difficult
Have you done an online background check of yourself lately? There are several reasons you should.
There might be erroneous information about you floating around the Internet or in your credit report. Maybe you'll find a picture of yourself or a comment you made years ago somewhere that's a little embarrassing.
These things will pop up and hurt your chances the next time you apply for a loan or a job. Fortunately, you can take steps to correct or remove this damaging information.
It's also a very good idea to do a background check before taking on a roommate or going out on a date with that new crush you met online. You never know what sort of worrying or dangerous details could be lurking in someone's past.
Because checking people's background is such a pressing need, there are dozens of ways to go about this. Fortunately, several ways won't cost you a thing.
Before I continue, I should point out a tricky fact about background checks. If you are performing a background check as a landlord or employer -- or for credit, medical or insurance reasons -- you can't use just any service.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have to use a consumer reporting agency, which has to maintain certain standards for data protection and offer dispute resolution.
If you do reject a potential tenant or employee based on a background check from a company that isn't a consumer reporting agency, you could wind up in trouble.
You can find a fairly complete list of CRAs on my website. The list is helpfully divided into categories such as credit reporting, employment history, insurance, renting and so on. Note that you can request and dispute the information that these CRAs have on file for you.
For checking on potential roommates or romantic partners, you can use just about any service or (legal) method.
The simplest option for a background check is to hire a professional service. You can find dozens of background check agencies online.
If you want to save some money and you have some time, you can do many of the same checks yourself. You might also dig up information on a person's habits or character that a professional might not consider.
PeekYou, White Pages Neighbors, The Beat and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website are among sites that can really help you learn about someone. They comb Google, Facebook and other information websites.
A Google search could turn up other things about the person that might make you think twice, too.
Most court information is public record. To find it, go to your state's official government website or find the information you need at the National Center for State Courts. Make sure you search every state that the person you're checking has lived in.
After that, you might want to drill down to discover any felony and misdemeanor convictions on the county and city level. Keep an eye out for civil judgments, too, such as a bankruptcies and court orders to pay debts.
In most cases, a credit report can't be pulled without a legitimate business purpose and written permission. A good strategy for screening a roommate would be to ask him or her to volunteer a report.
The more information you have about a person, the better your searches will be. Knowing a middle name and date of birth will help you weed out people with similar names. •
Email Kim Komando at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Suggestions are aplenty on what Penguins need to break through
- Jerome Bettis to be enshrined in hall of fame
- Snow, freezing rain, bitter cold coming to Western Pa.
- Rooney says Pittsburgh is ‘good place’ for next northern Super Bowl
- Springdale trestle bridge deemed structurally sound
- As banking goes mobile, branch closures rip through local economy
- Familiar Downtown Pittsburgh presence lost arm, leg to train
- LaBar: WWE not backing down from controversy
- Charge against ex-Steeler dropped after community service
- Iraqi libraries ransacked
- Mt. Washington renovation is a labor of love