‘Do a background check first.’
How many times have you heard that advice before? Background checks refer to a search for information about the history of an individual. Put simply, these are ‘quick checks’ on a person’s character. If there is anything negative found on a person through personal history checks, you are better empowered to decide whether you want to transact or do business with that person. Ignorance, however, could cost you.
Background Checks – Who’s Checking Up on You?
You may not realise it, but there can be a lot of people checking up on you. Potential employers top the list. Companies usually conduct background checks on job applicants primarily as a means to verify the credentials that you have listed on your resume. Another reason is to check for any criminal record you may have. For instance, a criminal record involving money may not make you a likely candidate for a financial position in the organisation.
Sometimes, landlords also do personal history checks on potential tenants to avoid unwittingly accepting unruly tenants.
Banks and financial organisations also do checks on you before agreeing to lend money to you.
The prudent supplier would also do a background check before agreeing to payment terms. And if you’re selling something (your car, your business, your great-grandmother’s antique clock), especially if payment is to be made in instalments, checking up on the prospective purchaser would be a wise move.
The Source of Background Checks
Personal history checks can dig up negative information through various public records and documents. The most obvious one would be if you have a criminal record. But information can also be collected from your financial or credit standing. If any red flags are found on these records, it could easily ruin your chances of getting the job you want, a loan you are applying for or that apartment you are trying to rent.
Of course, personal history checks are not just something that can be done to you. You can also conduct background checks on others. Apart from doing a background check on individuals, you can also conduct them for companies and institutions. Although information regarding the products and services that a company offers is easy to come by, other details such as the legal and financial status, social standing and reputation may require more effort.
Background Checks Infiltrate the Internet
Online background checks have gained popularity primarily because it is much cheaper than hiring a private detective to do it for you. The most obvious route would be to conduct quick and informal personal history checks through free search engines on the Internet. But this method generally provides little information and there is no guarantee as regards the accuracy of the information. In order to access more useful information – such as credit records – you can employ a company that specialises in doing background checks, for a fee.
The importance of a Consent
Of course, getting financial information out of some organisations, such as banks and even the credit bureaux, can be fraught with problems, especially given confidentiality laws and agreements. This process is made much easier if you have a consent signed by the person you’re checking up on. How do you do that? Get the person to complete and sign an application document, such as a Credit Application Form, a Tenant Application Form or a Job Application Form. And, armed with your signed consent, get checking!
Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.