Background screening is quickly becoming standard practice in many workplaces and businesses across the world. Organizations are continually on the lookout for new ways to mitigate their risk, and conducting background checks is an effective way to do so. Researching the histories and stated capabilities of the following individuals is always sound business practice:

Criminal, arrest, incarceration, and sex offender records

There are several types of criminal record searches available to employers, some more accurate and up to date than others. These "third party" background checking agencies cannot guarantee the accuracy of their information, thus many of them have incomplete records or inaccurate records. The only way to conduct an accurate background check is to go directly through the state. Most times using the state of choice is much cheaper than using a "third party" agency. Many websites offer the "instant" background check, which will search a compilation of databases containing public information for a fee. These "instant" searches originate from a variety of sources, from statewide court and corrections records to law enforcement records which usually stem from county or metro law enforcement offices. There are also other database-type criminal searches, such as statewide repositories and the national crime file. A commonly used criminal search by employers who outsource is the county criminal search.

Citizenship, immigration, or legal working status

The hiring of undocumented workers has become an issue for American businesses since the forming of the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. Many history making immigration raids[13] over the past two years have forced employers to consider including legal working status as part of their background screening process. All employers are required to keep government Form I-9 documents on all employees and some states mandate the use of the federal E-Verify program to research the working status of Social Security numbers. With increased concern for right-to-work issues, many outsourcing companies are sprouting in the marketplace to help automate and store Form I-9 documentation. Some jobs are only available to citizens who are residents of that country due to security concerns.

Litigation records

Employers may want to identify potential employees who routinely file discrimination lawsuits. It has also been alleged that in the U.S., employers that do work for the government do not like to hire whistleblowers who have a history of filing qui tam suits.

Driving and vehicle records

Employers that routinely hire drivers or are in the transportation sector seek drivers with clean driving records—i.e., those without a history of accidents or traffic tickets. Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation records are searched to determine a qualified driver.

Drug tests

Drug tests are used for a variety of reasons—corporate ethics, measuring potential employee performance, and keeping workers' compensation premiums down.

Education records

These are used primarily to see if the potential employee had graduated from high school (or a GED) or received a college degree, graduate degree, or some other accredited university degree. There are reports of SAT scores being requested by employers as well.

Employment records

These usually range from simple verbal confirmations of past employment and timeframe to deeper, such as discussions about performance, activities and accomplishments, and relations with others.

Financial information

Credit history, liens, civil judgments, bankruptcy, and tax information may be included in the report.

Licensing records

A government authority that has some oversight over professional conduct of its licensees will also maintain records regarding the licensee, such as personal information, education, complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions.

Medical, Mental, and Physiological evaluation and records

These records are generally not available to consumer reporting agencies, background screening firms, or any other investigators without documented, written consent of the applicant, consumer or employee.

Military records

Although not as common today as it was in the past fifty years, employers frequently requested the specifics of one's military discharge.

Polygraph testing

Those seeking employment in the government relating in a field of national security, law enforcement, or other field of safety or security may look into a persons background not disclosed in applications. Those who fail a polygraph test may not be selected. In the United States laws regarding the use are under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.

Social Security Number

(or equivalent outside the US). A fraudulent SSN may be indicative of identity theft, insufficient citizenship, or concealment of a "past life". Background screening firms usually perform a Social Security trace to determine where the applicant or employee has lived.

Other interpersonal interviews

Employers may investigate past employment to verify position and salary information. More intensive checks can involve interviews with anybody that knew or previously knew the applicant—such as teachers, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family members; however, extensive hearsay investigations in background checks can expose companies to lawsuits. Past employment and personal reference verifications are moving toward standardization with most companies in order to avoid expensive litigation.

Skip Trace

“Skiptracing (also skip tracing) is a colloquial term used to describe the process of locating a person's whereabouts for any number of purposes. A skip tracer is someone who performs this task, which may be the person's primary occupation. The term comes from the word "skip" being used to describe the person being searched for, and comes from the idiomatic expression "to skip town," meaning to depart, perhaps in a rush, and leaving minimal clues behind for someone to "trace" the "skip" to a new location.” (Wikipedia)

The days when you went to the phone book, criss-cross directory, or reverse directory are old-school and costly compared to the skip tracing technology options today. In fact, just looking for an address or a phone number isn’t the only thing collectors can ask of technology.

With the advent of technology in general, the availability and quality of information has expanded dramatically. Price can certainly be an issue, but many times the price is very inexpensive when measured to the benefit gained by it.

Private Sector

  • Address
  • Phone
  • Nearby Information (those people who live next door to the address you are researching)
  • Social Security Number Verification
  • Credit reports/scores

Public Sector

  • Employment Departments
    • Provide recent name, address, salary, etc.
  • Driver’s License/Vehicle Registration Departments
    • Provide name, address, and asset information
  • Tax and Revenue Departments
    • Provide name, address, and asset information
  • Court and Law Enforcement
  • Utility records
  • Property Assessor
  • Licenses (marriage, professional, business)
  • Business registration
  • Permits