MODEL PRIVATE SECTOR “BEST PRACTICES” CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK
A full, complete and thorough criminal background check requires several keys steps
to assure accuracy. Here is a model for a professional level criminal background
check that could be expected from a qualified private investigator or background
1. Identity verification.
A criminal background check that is run on a false name or a correct name and false
DOB is worthless. The first step in a criminal background check is to verify the
identity of the subject. If the subject is present and can present a valid photo
I.D., verification is made. However, more commonly, this is not possible and the
investigator must verify the subject’s identity through other sources. One common
way is pull the subject’s driving record through the state DMV. This will allow
the investigator to determine that the subject’s name and DOB are a match. Of course,
this assumes that the drivers license pulled is for the subject of the investigation
and he is not impersonating some unwitting third party.
2. Name/Address history.
Next, the investigator will secure the subject’s SSN through an online data service
and then run the SSN. This will bring back past names and addresses used by the
subject. It will also be a reliable source of information as to where the subject
has lived over the past ten years or so. This gives the investigator specific cities/states
to focus his investigation. It should also identify any other names the person has
previously lived under. Of course, the background check will need to be made under
these names as well.
3. State/Local Court Record Check.
The investigator will then check court records in each of the counties the subject
has lived for the past ten years. These court checks should be directly from the
source – either at the court’s website (if possible) or, by having an in-person
“name index” at the actual courthouse. If local, the P.I. may do these himself;
or he may hire an attorney service to do the check and report the results back to
4. Federal court check.
The investigator will then do likewise at the federal court level, typically through
a service called PACER.
5. “Nationwide” Criminal Check.
As discussed above, there is no such thing as a “nationwide” criminal background
check due to data blind spots in virtually every state. However, these “nationwide”
criminal checks, such as at Crime Smasher, fill two important needs. First, they
often offer redundancy to records already checked directly at source courts. Secondly,
there’s always the possibility that the subject of the investigation was convicted
of a crime some place other than where he lived. This “nationwide” search, although
flawed, at least presents an opportunity to identify these “away from home” criminal
6. Prison check.
To add further redundancy to the criminal background check, the investigator will
check state prison system records to see if there is any record of the person previously
being incarcerated. It’s possible that the subject was sent to prison, but because
of a data blind spot or other deficiency, the case was not found. When it’s learned
that the subject has a history of incarceration, then the investigator will know
he needs to dig further to locate the court case that resulted in the prison term.
The federal prison system, which has an online lookup, should also be checked.
7. Sex offender check.
Although it’s rare to find hits here, this should also be checked. Some states,
such as California, place restrictions on use of the information. For example, it
cannot be used to disqualify a job applicant. However, nothing in the law prevents
the investigator from going directly to the court, confirming the information, and
then presenting it to his client.
8. Arrest reports.
As described above, privately compiled arrest reports are a relatively new tool
for private sector investigators. Checking these should be done although depending
on the type of investigation, the investigator may not be allowed to legally report
the results to his client. For example, the FCRA allows reporting of convictions
ONLY when the background check is done for employment purposes. Therefore, arrests
are not reportable. (Please note this data search is included with every criminal
check done at Crime Smasher.)
9. Wants and Warrants.
As with arrest reports, this is another new, privately compiled version of the true
Wants and Warrants search that was previously available to law enforcement only.
Although it contains many data blind spots, this search is low priced and worth
the fee involved. (This search is also included automatically with a criminal check
done at Crime Smasher.)
Conclusion: The Role of Internet-based Criminal
About the Author and Disclaimer
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