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Online "Free" Database Searches

Posted in News & Events, News Articles on 08/01/2008

There have been news stories appearing in newspapers and on television news programs asking “Do you really know who people are?”  They link you to a website that will search for criminal records all across the country for anyone.

What do you get when you use one of these searches?
They usually contain a listing of names, and may include birth dates or addresses, along with a listing of crimes.

Why should I pay someone to do these searches instead of using the free ones?

  • The actual criminal records information is limited on these searches, and to be Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant, must be checked at the court of record.
  • The records found on these sites may contain outdated information that you may not be able to use for a hiring decision, or they may contain records that do not have dispositions or may even have been dismissed, information that could create a legal nightmare for your company.
  • While many of these databases state they are nationwide, they do NOT contain criminal records from every jurisdiction across the United States.  Many courts do make their records available online, so this is not an all-encompassing search.
  • The identifiers on the records may be minimal and additional searching would need to take place.  Some of the records do contain dates of birth or addresses, but it is time consuming to decide if the records do or do not belong to your applicant, especially with someone who has a common name.
  • In many cases the crimes are not specified, so your applicant may appear on this list, but unless you search the actual court where the violation occurred, you’ll have no idea what the crime is.
  • Many of the offenses reported are minor traffic violations or other minor “crimes,” including fishing without a license or an expired registration tag on a car from ten years ago, and would be of little consequence for a hiring decision.

So, how much do these “free” searches really cost your company in effort, time and possible legal fees?  Why put your company at risk just to save a few dollars?

For more information on how to conduct legal, FCRA compliant searches for your company, contact BackTrack at 800-991-9694.