All About Background Checks

What is a Background Check?

It can be frustrating not knowing what information you can actually get—or not get—from an online search. Your idea of what a background check means may differ from what PeopleFinders means. We want to make sure everyone is all on the same page.

First, a couple of definitions:

  • Background Check – At PeopleFinders, a background check is the aggregation of someone’s public records information, starting with a people search by name, address lookup, or reverse phone lookup. The initial searches give you some basic identifying information to confirm that you are looking at the right person. Then, when you are sure, you have the option of performing the deeper background check.
  • Background Report – The background report is the product that shows the results of a background check. Our data aggregation process pulls from many data sources, and organizes all of that information into one easy-to-digest document. Purchasing a background report makes it viewable to you online, or downloadable for printing or viewing offline.

What Info Could You Find in a Background Report?

The public records data that you can get from an online background check at PeopleFinders may be the same info that you can request in person at any courthouse or county recorder’s office. In other words, public records are available to just about anyone in the public who makes the effort to see them. (We just make the process faster and easier.)

A PeopleFinders background check, and the corresponding background report, may show you all public records data currently available for a person, as long as they:

  • Are 18 years of age or older
  • Live in the U.S.
  • Have not requested their records to be blocked on the PeopleFinders site
  • Have not had their records sealed by a judge

Such public records info may include names and known aliases, relatives and associates, current and historical phone numbers and addresses, email addresses, criminal records (arrests, trials, convictions), marriages and divorces (available only within certain date ranges, and only from certain states), birth records, census data, property records, liens, bankruptcies and/or foreclosures.

What Info Will You Not Find in a Background Report?

In most cases, you will not see all of the types of public records in a single background report, simply because some of them are not applicable to the person you’re searching. In other words, if there are no criminal records showing up, it very well may be because there are no criminal records to show.

If someone is a minor, lives outside the U.S., or has opted out their public records, you won’t be able to perform a background check on them.

What Can You Do with the Information from a Background Check?

A background check helps you to know more about the people around you, and to make smart decisions about those people. It can also help you to protect yourself and your loved ones, and to verify the accuracy of your own public records information.

But it is perhaps easier to outline what you cannot use a background check for. Here, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) comes into play. PeopleFinders is not a consumer reporting agency (CRA) as defined by the FCRA. So, you cannot use a background report from PeopleFinders to screen someone or otherwise determine their eligibility for employment, tenancy, credit, or any other purpose covered by the FCRA. For those purposes, you must go through a CRA.

For more information on what you can and cannot do with the public records you find via a PeopleFinders background check, be sure to check out our “Do’s and Don’ts.”