So-Called “Free” Background Screening
When looking for a background screening service on any given search engine, what comes up time and time again in your search are the advertisements for so-called “free” background checks. This begs the question: why pay a background screening company, such as AAA Credit Screening, for their services, when you could simply pull a free report off of one of these websites? Listing their services as free and easy to use, wherein you can initiate a full search right off the homepage, these websites make it seem like a background check is just a simple click away!
Things that aren’t specified on the “free” background screening websites? What is actually included their “background checks.” Often, “background check” is a vague, catch-all term used by these companies; it is a term that often doesn’t even specify what the scope or purpose of a search is before you conduct it. It could be anything, from a public records search to a motor vehicle report, a county criminal report to a bankruptcy search. This can be confusing to anyone who needs a report for a specific purpose, such as to verify that an applicant does not have a criminal record, nationwide.
A second troubling aspect of these “free” services is their dishonest nature. The majority of these websites will allow a search to be initiated for free, show that there are records associated with an individual’s name, and then, upon trying to obtain more information, will prompt the user to pay money for the full report, which would show any actually relevant or necessary details. These details can be especially important to criminal reporting, such as whether the crime committed was driving 5 MPH over the speed limit or if it was armed robbery, whether the offender’s name was Jon J. Smith or John P. Schmidt, or whether the offender was found guilty or the case was dismissed.
A final problem with “free” background check services? The often-overlooked disclaimers. The reason why you can search for an applicant’s name on the homepage of these websites is because of the fine print text that they put at the bottom of the screen: You cannot use these reports for employment screening, consumer credit decisions, tenant screening, or any other purpose that may require FCRA compliance. Essentially, this means that unless you are an individual looking for their own record, you can get into serious legal trouble for using these websites. Why? Firstly, because they don’t require the authorization of the applicant. This violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which requires all consumer reporting agencies to have the applicant’s permission when furnishing a report. Secondly, because these databases aren’t reviewed, the case records aren’t verified for accuracy, and many of the things that will come up on the report will be out-of-date or simply incorrect.
Relying on a report from a “free” background screening services may seem like a good idea at first, however upon closer examination, and in the end, you always get what you pay for. In this case, that is nothing worth any actual value. These reports are often completely useless, if not because of their inaccuracies, then often because they are searching the wrong areas or not searching for the right kind of record. In the end, to get your report, the company will likely require you to pay a fee anyway, relying on deceptive advertising to convince you otherwise. After paying for the report, you will find its contents irrelevant, as you find out that you cannot legally use the report for the reason you needed it. The biggest difference that separates these companies from consumer reporting agencies such as AAA Credit Screening is the quality of service. From start to finish, AAA Credit Screening provides you with consultation as to the report options that are available to you. Instead of trying to deceive you with hidden fees or confusing language, AAA Credit Screening will confirm your purpose for screening the report before you pay; our reports can be used for all permissible purposes under the FCRA, including consumer credit decisions, employment, and tenant screening. Friendly and capable staff will review every report before it reaches your screen, confirming the accuracy of the information you are receiving.