Maybe you’re hiring someone or renting an apartment. Maybe you’re curious about a neighbor or coworker. Whatever the situation may be, you want to check someone’s criminal record, and you’re concerned about whether or not you need permission.
Is it legal to check someone’s criminal record without permission? Do you need to request someone’s permission before running a criminal record check?
In some cases, you need to ask permission before checking a criminal record. In other cases, you do not need to request any type of permission.
Confused? We’ll explain how it works below.
You Must Request Permission in Professional Settings
If you’re running a background check in a professional setting, then you may need to request permission.
Employers must request permission before running a background check on a prospective employee, for example. You cannot screen a job candidate without first getting permission from that candidate.
The same rule applies to landlords checking a tenant’s background or criminal history. If you are renting your place to someone, then this is considered a professional setting. You must request the prospective tenant’s permission before running a background check.
You may also require permission in other settings.
Are you using the background check to make an important decision about the person’s future? If so, then you may need to request permission.
If you need to request permission, then you must also comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires background check services to abide by specific regulations and requirements. You must use an FCRA-compliant background check service when running a background check in professional settings.
The FCRA also requires you to inform the candidate about the results of the background check in certain situations. If you run a background check on someone, for example, and it reveals information that prevents you from hiring that person, then you may need to inform the candidate of the specific item that prevented the hiring.
Employers and landlords who fail to follow the FCRA may expose themselves to liability. An employer who fails to follow the FCRA then rejects a qualified candidate, for example, could be sued by that candidate.
Permission is Not Required in Personal Settings
If you’re running a background check in a personal setting, then you may not need permission. You can check someone’s background without their permission or knowledge.
If you want to check a co-worker’s divorce certificate, for example, then you may be able to do so without the co-worker’s permission or knowledge. If you’re curious about a neighbor’s criminal record and want to learn more, then you should be able to run a check without the neighbor’s permission.
Similarly, it’s legal to run a background check on a date. If you just met someone and want to learn more before continuing with a second date, for example, then you can run a background check. Dating is a personal reason, and you should be able to legally run a background check without permission.
Personal settings where permission is not required can include:
Background Checks for Personal Relationships or Dating: If you meet someone on Tinder and want to learn more, then you can run a background check on that person. Many people do this to verify someone’s identity, for example, and make sure they are who they claim to be.
Babysitting, Coaching, and Other Casual Jobs: You may not need to run a background check before hiring a babysitter. Running a background check on a babysitter can reveal crucial information about someone who is going to be around your children, and it’s a good idea to run a background check in this situation.
Curiosity or Snooping: Is your boss really divorced? Is your friend’s wife really 35 years old? Did that neighbor really commit a felony? Some people call it curiosity. Others call it snooping. In most cases, you can freely snoop on someone without requesting that person’s permission.
Checking your Own Background: It’s legal to check your own background. In fact, thousands of Americans do this every day. Checking your own background can reveal errors on your history. It could also help explain why you keep getting rejected by landlords or employers. Many people are surprised to discover what appears on a background check.
Generally, if you’re not using background check information to decide someone’s future, then you do not need someone’s permission to run a background check.
Can Someone Tell You Checked Their Background?
If you’re concerned about checking someone’s record without their permission, then you may also be concerned about whether or not they can tell you ran a background check.
If you run a background check on someone, does that person receive a notification of any sort? Can someone tell that you checked their criminal record or pulled certain database files?
With most background check services, the person will not receive any notification that you ran a background check, and there’s no way for someone to tell you ran a background check. Your search should be completely private and anonymous.
Rest assured, snoopers: if running a background check for personal reasons, you should be able to run the check anonymously and without permission.
In many cases, it’s legal to check someone’s criminal record without their permission. In other cases, it’s legal to check someone’s criminal record – but you need to ask their permission and use an accredited service.
Run a criminal record check on someone today in just a few minutes online. Enter a first name, last name, and location to start your background check.