Fortunately, several ways won't cost you a thing.
Before I continue, I should point out a tricky fact about background checks. If you are performing a background check as a landlord or employer - or for credit, medical or insurance reasons -- you can't use just any service. A CRA has to maintain certain standards for data protection and offer dispute resolution. If you do reject a potential tenant or employee even semi-informal employees like domestic workers based on a background check from a company that isn't a CRA, you could wind up in trouble.
The list is helpfully divided into categories such as credit reporting, employment history, insurance, renting and so on. Note that you can request and dispute the information that these CRAs have on file for you.
For checking on potential roommates or romantic partners, you can use just about any service or legal method. The simplest option for a background check is to hire a professional service. You can find dozens of background check agencies online.
How to do a free online background check
You will need to watch out for scam companies. Look around at several companies to find the average price for a background check and avoid any companies that are too low or too high. If you want to save some money and you have some time, you can do many of the same checks yourself. You might also dig up information on a person's habits or character that a professional might not consider. Click here for four sites that can really help you learn about someone. They comb Google, Facebook and other information websites to find out details that the person has willingly shared.
What Do Free Background Checks Really Offer?
A Google search could turn up other things about the person that might make you think twice, too. However, you probably won't see important details about whether they've been arrested or evicted in the past. Luckily, most court information is public record. Make sure you search every state that the person you're checking has lived in. If the person you're searching for has a common name, you should also add any information you know about them after the quotation marks.
For example, if I search for "sarah jacobsson purewal" pcworld, I'm going to get more details about the Sarah Jacobsson Purewal who writes for PCWorld, helping to narrow my search down a bit.
Finding Skeletons on Social Media
Use any information you know about this person, including places of work, types of work, schools they've attended, cities they've lived in, and the names of other people they know. You can also use site-specific searches if you're looking for someone within a school or business. For example: site:pcworld. Social networks are fantastic sources of information--and it's all completely self-volunteered.
This is why social networks are particularly handy for employers--because if it's on your Facebook page, it's not only information about you, it's information you've chosen to share with the world. Facebook is indisputably the social networking standby--no surprise, as it boasts million users. You can search for people by name and e-mail address, and modify the results by location, school, and workplace.
US Criminal Records
If nothing shows up, they may have made their profile private and unsearchable. If that's the case, you can do a site-specific Google search, and any public pages or groups they may have commented on will show up. For example, my personal Facebook profile is private and will not show up in Facebook search results, but if you type site:Facebook. You can now see my profile picture, as Facebook doesn't allow users to make this private, even if you still can't search for me using Facebook's search.
Alternatively, you can use Openbook. Other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, are also worth a look. LinkedIn usually reveals much less information about a user, because it's primarily a work-oriented social network. Twitter is a different type of social network.
How to get a background check
Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter asks for very little identifying information from their users. Thus, you'll often find people's Twitter accounts via their Facebook or LinkedIn pages--not necessarily by searching Twitter. Twitter can still give you a wealth of information, though it's more likely to give you an insight into their personality, interests, and style, rather than information you can use to find their address or phone number. Okay, so you've Googled your target and discovered all of their sordid beer-bong photos on Facebook, but what you really want is to be able to contact them.
How can you get their phone number and address? Look up phone numbers with ZabaSearch.
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ZabaSearch is a fairly accurate phone number lookup service. It offers a free way to look up people's phone numbers you can narrow it down by state , along with premium services for reverse phone number and social security number lookups. I say "fairly accurate" because while ZabaSearch's database includes listed and unlisted numbers, it's hit-or-miss when it comes to cell phone numbers--and who doesn't have a cell phone these days? WhitePages appears to update its database more frequently, as it found a recent address change of mine that ZabaSearch missed within the last year.
However, it does not list unlisted numbers. WhitePages also offers a premium, reverse phone number lookup, and will show you the location of the phone.