What Is an Individual Background Check?

Employers may not use information from a background check before offering you a job or deciding to keep you on. They also can’t ask for medical information until you’ve accepted the position and can show that you need to access your records.


Individual background checks include searching extensive databases and court records. The results reveal felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions, pending cases, and arrests that did not lead to a conviction.

Verifying Your Identity

A background check is a formal process by which an employer — through a third party or in-house — investigates your professional and personal history, including work and education, social media, criminal records, credit reports, drug tests, and more. The information you share during this process can be used to determine your eligibility for employment, but a company can’t use it against you without your express consent.

To ensure the accuracy of this information, many background checks start with identity verification, which confirms that a candidate is who they say they are by matching their name, date of birth, and address history to public records. Without this step, a mistaken alias or recent name change could lead to an inaccurate background check result that would miss criminal records committed under the wrong name.

In addition to confirming names, address histories, and dates of birth, identity verification can also check for fraud alerts, deceased person alerts, and other things that might interfere with the results of an individual background check. This is a vital part of any background check, especially for companies that need confidence that their candidates are who they claim to be.

A background check may also include an educational record search, which retrieves transcripts from schools to review past grades and course credits. This is often a requirement for certain positions, and it can help an employer determine whether a candidate’s academic achievements align with the job description and requirements. It can also reveal any disciplinary action taken by the school.

Verifying Your Employment History

In some cases, a background check may include employment history verification. This allows an employer to verify that the career information listed on a candidate’s resume or application is accurate. It can also help identify any gaps or misrepresentations in a candidates’ work history.

This is usually done by contacting past employers. It can be a time-consuming process, so it’s important that applicants are honest about their work history. It’s also a good idea for job seekers to refrain from tweaking their previous job titles because this can be caught during the employment verification process.

An employment verification can reveal many details about a candidate, including their reason for leaving the company and their overall performance in their job. Some of the other information that an employer might find out during an employment verification includes salary, bonuses and overtime payments. An employer might also verify if an applicant was a good employee by looking at their attendance records.

Some companies might use E-Verify, which is an online government service for employers to check whether someone has the legal right to work in the US. They can also use a third-party verification company that is registered with the government to verify an employee’s work status. Depending on the job and industry, some background checks might also include credit history and motor vehicle records.

Verifying Your Academic Records

An education background check can be a helpful tool in vetting a job candidate’s qualifications. It helps to ensure that the person has the training needed to do the job, as well as verifying that the degrees they claim to have are legitimate. Some “universities” are diploma mills that award bogus degrees in return for cash, and an education verification can help employers avoid hiring dishonest candidates who would be a liability to the company.

An employee’s educational background can impact their salary, so it’s important for companies to be able to accurately verify degrees and certificates. A background check can verify schools attended, dates of attendance and degrees earned. In addition, a search can be conducted to confirm that the applicant’s degree is legitimate by determining the granting institution and checking against lists of accredited universities.

Some positions, such as certain roles in healthcare and government, require specific certifications or licenses. An employment background check can also reveal any professional licenses or certifications a candidate has and ensure they are active and in good standing. Some background checks include information on a candidate’s international academic records from high school to GED equivalents, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and post-graduate studies. Typically, these searches can be done quickly by working with an outside service provider. Alternatively, an employer can run an education background check on their own by contacting the schools directly or using an online portal like the National Student Clearinghouse.

Verifying Your Address History

A criminal background check typically includes a residential address confirmation search. This is a valuable procedure that makes your search more comprehensive by identifying additional names and addresses in addition to the one(s) you already know about the applicant. This information can then be used to conduct searches in other jurisdictions where they might have a criminal record.

Address verification is also useful for a variety of reasons, such as verifying verbal explanations given by the candidate on their application or in a job interview, and discovering whether an address has been reported to the credit bureaus. It can also help you uncover additional locations from which the candidate received mail such as their parents’ home, college or even a friend’s couch that they lived on for a few months.

While there are services that will perform free public records searches to verify an applicant’s address history, it is best to use a reputable, comprehensive, and compliant screening service that uses in-house researchers to investigate court records to ensure the most accurate and trustworthy results. In doing so, you can avoid legal pitfalls that could result from relying on free public records for the same purpose.

As part of our individual background checks, we conduct an address verification through a Social Security Number Trace and an address history search in order to locate any previous addresses or aliases the applicant may have used. We then add the results of these searches to our criminal records search.