by Joe Hoover
Enter “Free Criminal Records Search” in Google. Click on one of the listings. Enter your subject’s name (this could be the only information that you have), and other personal information, your subject has provided. Your search results could be in the hundreds, depending on how common the name is and the breadth of your search area (a county, state or national search). How do you identify which one is your subject?
Know this: There is a big difference between a “Criminal Records Search” and a “Criminal Background Check”. A “Criminal Records Search” is searching a single database with the identifying information that you have been provided. A “Criminal Background Check”, on the other hand, will discover and verify your subject’s personal information, thereby establishing positive identity, plus searching a variety of databases.
Criminals are experts at supplying you with bogus information. They use aliases and variations of their name, change around or alter their date of birth, change their social security number and leave out past addresses. How would you know these things, unless you had done a basic background check and address history search on them?
Even if you have established positive identification, what have you accomplished? You have searched a database, but what is the source of that database? Which states and counties contribute to that database? More importantly, which ones do not? There is no National Criminal Database and all databases are not created equal. Some are up-to-date, others are out-of-date. Some pay data brokers for a “data dump” once or twice a year. What if your subject committed a crime in the recent past? Would this show up on a free search? Most likely not!
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For more information on conducting a criminal background check, read this article: How To Search Criminal Records.
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