How To Find Out What’s On Your Background Check

In an age of internet transparency, it’s reasonable to wonder what kind of information others can dig up about you. And I’m not just talking about old, racist tweets (like the ones that recently tarnished the reputations of several beauty bloggers, social media stars, and music artists).

Truth is, we live in a time when even some of our most sensitive information is readily available to the public, often at the click of a mouse. And if you’ve ever applied for a job, changed insurance companies, gotten a new utility provider, or applied for a new apartment, then chances are someone has checked your background.

A background check isn’t just about criminal records anymore. There are many things that someone could be searching for, from your credit rating to whether you’ve ever been pursued by a debt collector.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2019 report, there are a number of different scenarios in which businesses can request information from consumer-reporting companies. And with the exception of employment screening, businesses requesting reports generally won’t warn you if they decide to take action against you based on what they find.

Thankfully, it’s easy to learn what these searches could potentially dig up on you. And if you’re at all worried, it’s not a bad idea to get ahead of the game by doing one on yourself first, so you can review the reports closely and dispute any suspected inaccuracies.

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumer-reporting companies must provide you a copy of your report if you request it. And obtaining one is usually free or, at the maximum, $12.50 in 2019. It’s also worth noting that requesting copies of your consumer reports does not harm your credit score.

Ahead, we outline a few of the different scenarios in which you might get your background checked, who can see your reports, what searchers could be looking for, and what your rights are in the situation.

If you’ve ever applied as a tenant for a new apartment, chances are you’ve had to agree to a tenant-screening report or credit check. These checks are par for the course when renting property. And it’s important to know your rights.

A negative report — which could include a prior eviction — could lead to you getting rejected on an apartment, or having tough conditions added to the lease, such as having to pay rent in advance.

Even if you’ve never faced eviction, it’s a good idea to check out your report and see if there could be any information on there that could negatively impact an application.

Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC) provides one free report from their national eviction-record database every 12 months upon request. CoreLogic, Experian RentBureau, and First Advantage Corporation Resident History Report also provides a free report every 12 months upon request.

There are a number of employment-screening companies that verify things such as credit history, employment, salary, and education levels to employers or others conducting the screen. They could also provide criminal records, driving records, and fingerprint information. Note that this is often also a requirement for some volunteer positions, as well.

The good news is: Most employment-screening companies require an employer to be authorized by you to obtain such a report.

If and when you authorize a report, make sure you request the name of the company that will be providing the profile so that you can contact the company to fact-check before the screening happens.

Accurate Background will provide one free report upon request. Checkr will also provide a free report if you request it on its Better Future website. EmpInfo and General Information Services, Inc. (GIS) can provide consumers with a free report every 12 months upon request.

If you’re thinking of changing property insurance or medical insurance, you could be subject to insurance-report checks. For personal-property insurance reports, you can consult with A-PLUS Property or C.L.U.E. Inc., which will provide a free report every 12 months.

Same goes for medical insurance. If you’re applying for private life insurance, health insurance, critical-illness insurance, or disability-income insurance, you want to fact-check your medical specialty report before you do. MIB, Inc. will provide a free report every 12 months upon request.

Banks and credit unions regularly use screening reports to decide whether or not to let individuals open a checking account or cash a check.

You might want to check your report if you’ve ever had an unpaid negative balance on your bank account or an overdraft that you did not repay in time. You could also face difficulties if you’ve been suspected of any kind of fraudulent activity related to a past account.

Even if you’ve been a victim of fraud, you should review your reports and dispute them if you find any inaccuracies.

Certegy Check Services, CrossCheck, Inc., and Global Payments Check Services, Inc. will provide one free report every 12 months upon request.

If you’re interested in also getting a free credit-score check or a deposit-risk score along with your free report, check out ChexSystems for the former or Early Warning Services for the latter.

Low-income borrowers or those with poor credit history will need to do a report before applying for a payday loan, installment loan, auto loan, rent-to-own transaction, or financial service geared toward lower-income and subprime customers.

If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to take extra care, as many of these loans prey on disadvantaged individuals and could make your financial situation even worse.

CoreLogic Teletrack, DataX, and Factor Trust all provide a free report every 12 months upon request. Clarity Services provides one free report every 12 months, as well as a credit-risk score if you request it.

Utilities are pretty necessary things, and you want to make sure you don’t face any difficulty getting them set up.

If you’re changing utility companies associated with telecommunications, pay TV, electricity, gas, or water services, you can request a free report at National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange every 12 months.

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