We’ve all heard of background checks, especially if you’ve ever tried to apply for a job or a line of credit. They’re found in almost every industry – from childcare to finance and everything in between. But for many, the concept of what is disclosed on the confidential report remains foreign and complicated. If this sounds familiar, here are a few reasons you should be running a check on yourself.
What is a background check?
Using reputable websites like Checkpeople.com, information is pulled from a variety of sources and entered a report about a specified individual. The information covered in the report is found through a variety of sources, but they are normally public access records.
You’ll find a credit history, financial reports (a credit check), social media activities, driver’s abstract, criminal records, and employment history. Some reports may include education verification, as well as business assets. In other words, a background check is a personal profile of everything you may have done up until the day it is pulled.
Understanding the Information
Once a background check has been completed, the information compiled will be used to verify your identity and any information you have previously given. In the case of an employment background check, an employer will be reviewing your work history, the criminal report, and possibly your driver’s abstract or credit report (depending on the job).
Verifying this information before consenting to a background check is important. If you haven’t given an accurate representation of your history, you risk losing out on employment opportunities after they’ve read the report. While you don’t have to disclose the information to a potential employer before the report, knowing where you stand and what information they will be reviewing is a fantastic way to monitor your chances of success.
Continue Monitoring Your Report for Updates
The last thing you want to feel at a follow-up interview is blindsided by your report, even if you don’t think you have anything sinister on file. Housing applications and employment opportunities will scrutinize any findings to determine the risk you pose to them long-term. Knowing your credit history and reviewing all accounts on file will help you understand the risk factor you bring with your application. Student loans and credit card debt (even if paid on-time), can elevate your risk factor.
Fix any mistakes
Although we’d like to believe everything we read, there are occasions when background checks come back with issues or mistakes. As both legal and financial accounts appear in the report, you’ll have the opportunity to review current information. If you notice any accounts that should have been expunged from your record (for example, a delinquent account that has been paid), take the opportunity to have the information corrected. Likewise, a criminal record still showing on the report has the risk of limiting employment opportunities—if a record was supposed to be removed, always follow up with the proper legal channels or a lawyer.
Improve Your Credit Report
Need to buy a house in the next decade? Are you considering a car purchase soon? If your finances are a mess, a report gives you the complete breakdown of where you stand. A credit check is run any time you apply for credit; car loans, line of credit, credit cards, and mortgages, all need to ensure you can handle the additional debt.
Before applying for another card, look at your current financial standings. If you have a few delinquent accounts or high debt ratios, work to correct them before applying. When all of your balances have been paid down and your history shows on-time payments, your chance of succeeding in your application goes up. If you’ve ever had a bankruptcy in your financial history, always look up statutes on reporting that information. Remember, a background check will include insolvencies in the file, so make sure that everything else is current.
Limit your risk of fraud and identity theft
Once your identity has been stolen, rebuilding your life is an incredibly difficult task. Your credit history will suffer, your criminal records may be tarnished, your medical records and insurance may become compromised. It’s a steep and difficult mountain to try and climb when it happens. Keeping an eye on your history can help limit the risk of identity theft by tracking any new or updated changes to your file over time. You’ll be able to quickly identify any changes made to your file (like a new address) and stop the fraudulent activity in its tracks.
As you’ll be able to monitor all major areas of identity theft, you’ll be safeguarded from all areas of concern in your life. While it’s not a foolproof way to prevent fraud from happening, it limits the potential impact it does have on your life long-term.