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What is an Online Background Check?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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An online background check is a report that is either carried out by a search of Web site databases, or perhaps obtained online through a company specifically set up to produce such reports. The background check may include such things as criminal record and residency history. Often, these reports can be obtained in a matter of minutes, depending on how specific one needs the report to be.

While there are many companies that promise very thorough checks, most of the resources available to these companies are available to the general public online as well. In some cases, this may enable an individual to perform an online background check at a discounted rate, or even free. However, the ease at which this might be done varies, depending on how thorough that online background check may need to be. For example, checking criminal records for one or two states may not be very tedious. Doing it for all 50 states would be very time consuming.

In some cases, it may be impossible for an individual to get some information desired through an online background check. Generally, things like credit reports are only given to the individual or those whom the individual authorizes to receive a credit report. In these cases, some companies may offer more than they are truly able to deliver.

In addition to criminal searches, there are a number of other online background check services offered by many companies. One of the most common currently is the date check. This is a way to find out if a potential date is married, has a criminal history, or what kind of debts and assets he or she may have. In many cases, these reports are prepared by taking portions of various other types of reports, but it is done at a discounted rate.

An online background check can also be used as a way to reconnect with old friends. These are usually called people searches and will provide addresses for where a person has lived as well as phone numbers, usually going back a number of years. In many cases, multiple people will have the same name, so some additional information may be required to make sure you have found the right person. Generally speaking, many offer a no find, no fee guarantee on this type of online background check.

Real estate is another popular area for an online background check. For the most part, real estate is easily checked in many jurisdictions online. It may be possible to find out when a property was purchased, for what amount, its assessed value and tax history. This may be good information, especially if that parcel is for sale and the person seeking the information is a potential buyer.

The price for an online background check varies based on the thoroughness and difficulty of the task. Generally, some may be obtained for slightly more than $10 US Dollars (USD), and go up from there. Most checks are offered a la carte, but some companies may also offer discounted rates for more than one type of check purchased as part of the same order.

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