If you are like most of us who use the internet, you are probably curious about how much information is available about yourself. Did you know it is essential that you understand what information is available to protect your identity and the security of your personal data?
Running a background check on reputable background check sites can help you understand if there is erroneous information that might appear on a background check done for employment purposes. It can also help you identify potential identity theft.
How to run a background check
- The easiest and most efficient way to do a background check is to pay a reputable background check site for a comprehensive report. However, the information you receive on the report is a compilation of information you can find yourself with time and effort.
- If you do not want to pay for the background check, you would still want to compile a report through a reputable site. Most sites will give you a small amount of information, such as possible relatives or past addresses, for free. If you see anything on the free report that does not match your information, you may want to consider purchasing a report to identify errors.
- Everyone has tried Googling themselves, but you may not have dug deep enough. Start with Googling your name, combined with your city and state, in quotation marks to see what information comes up. Don’t forget to check the images tab to see what pictures of you have been indexed by Google.
- Type in your phone number and review the results. There is a map tab underneath your results. Check the map tab to see if your phone number reveals your physical address or your location.
- Do a public records search. Start with the county website in which you live and any counties where you previously lived. Most counties allow you to look up property tax information by name or address so you can see what property you own, and it’s taxable value. You can also search for criminal records by federal, state, and county websites.
- Check your credit report with all three credit reporting bureaus. There may be a small fee associated with this, but knowing what is on your credit report is essential. Checking your credit report allows you to identify any mistakes in information or accounts that do not belong to you. If you find information such as accounts you did not open, contact the credit bureau immediately. Make sure you are not a victim of identity theft. If the information on your report is incorrect, such as showing an outstanding balance on a loan you paid off, you can file a dispute. The credit reporting agency must investigate any dispute and notify you of the results.
- Do a DMV search for your state and any state where you previously lived. How much information is available on your driving record varies by state, but you should request a copy of your driving record. The information on your driving record can have an impact on job qualifications, as well as how much you pay for vehicle insurance.
- Check the privacy settings on all your social media accounts. Once you have them set to the place where you feel comfortable, have someone who is not a friend on social media (or temporarily unfriend them) and have them check to see what they can find about you on social media.
What to do if you find false information
If you find inaccurate information about yourself on the internet, having it removed can be challenging. Depending on where you find the data, there are some steps you can try:
- If the information is on a webpage, contact the owner of the page and ask them to remove the content citing privacy concerns. If they agree to remove the information, you can file a request with Google asking them to re-index the page that reflects the changes. Google itself will only take steps to remove information that fit a very tight definition.
- If the information is on a site that you control, such as social media, delete any information you do not want.
- If you have been a victim of identity theft, then report it immediately. Your first step would be to contact all financial institutions to report the fraud and then file a police report. You will also want to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Filing reports about the theft will be necessary for reclaiming your identity.