Checking someone’s criminal record is a legal and common thing to do. Every day, thousands of Americans check criminal records for personal reasons. With someone’s permission, you can also check someone’s criminal record for professional reasons.
What do you need to check someone’s criminal record? What type of information can narrow down search results? Today, we’re explaining what you need to bring when checking someone’s criminal record.
In most cases, all you need is a name to get detailed information about a person’s background. With just a first and last name, you can learn surprising information about an individual. You can search state and county databases for any criminal records, marriage and divorce certificates, and more, for example.
Having additional information – like a date of birth, current address, or birthplace – can narrow down your search results. This information can be particularly useful if the individual has a common name. However, it’s not required for many criminal records searches.
Keep in mind that you do not need the person’s consent for most personal criminal records searches. If you are simply curious about a neighbor or teacher, for example, then it should be legal to run a criminal background check on that individual.
As soon as you start using the person’s criminal records check to make decisions about that person’s future, however, you may need that person’s consent. Landlords need a person’s consent prior to running a background check on a prospective tenant, for example. Employers need consent if preparing to hire a new employee.
The Person’s Consent (Required for Employment Screenings)
If you are running a criminal background check on someone for professional reasons (say, if preparing to hire them or rent a condo to them), then you need that person’s consent.
The background screening industry is highly-regulated, and an individual’s privacy is protected by various regulations. Nationwide, background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Additionally, employers cannot look at information that is older than seven years for civil judgments, arrest records, collection records, and paid tax liens (although bankruptcies stay on your record for ten years).
You can’t just have the person check a box saying, “I consent to this background check”. The consent must clearly explain that you are performing the background check and that the results of the background check will be used for hiring, promotion, or retention. After providing this notice, the employer must receive consent (either on paper or online) from the individual to run a background check.
Additional Information Can Narrow Down Search Results
Additional information is not required before checking someone’s criminal record. However, it can certainly help narrow down search results.
If the individual has a common name or has lived at multiple addresses, for example, then it may be tricky to track down arrest records across the country. Some people have changed their names or used different aliases. Others have changed their name after getting married.
Some of the additional information you can use to narrow down a criminal records check includes:
- Full name (first, middle, and last name)
- Known aliases
- Maiden name
- Social Security Number
- Date of birth
- Current and past addresses
- Driver’s license number
Armed with all of this information, you can run a detailed criminal background check on someone.