If you are wondering why on earth a prospective new employer needs to check up on your social security number or your old addresses, stay on this page. We explain how this information vital for ascertaining your identity and also checking your criminal records, plus show you how to ascertain in advance what information your new employer might find.
Applying for almost any job these days involves agreeing to allow your prospective new employer to run a background check on you. You will be asked to provide written consent for this check to be carried out and, like many others, you are probably wondering why your new employer wants to check your social security number and your address history.
There is a very good reason for employers to want to see both these pieces of information. As you will see, they are essential for an employer to get the most basic bits of information they need to decide whether to hire you or not. We will explain why, and also give you all the information about employment background checks you need to know.
Why do employers run SSN and Address History checks?
As part of an employment background check, the chances are that your social security number and previous addresses will be researched. The reason for this is quite simple: the information that is linked to your social security number includes your name history and your address history.
These two data sets are vital because any criminal record a person holds is linked to both the name and their address. Crucially, it is not directly linked to your social security number in most cases. It is therefore quite easy for someone to mask any criminal record they have by moving to a new house and changing their name.
Employers can check a person’s social security number without risking accessing criminal record information that they aren’t allowed to look at (i.e. older than 7 years in most states). They are then armed with details of any name and address changes and can run an accurate and legal criminal record check, too.
Address history is particularly important for employment background checks because it can guide them on where to run a background check. After all, criminal record data can be held in hard-to-access places, and running a check nationwide is a massive task. With an address history, you can confine these searches to individual states, counties, or even municipalities. Most crimes are committed close to where a person lives so they can also help with digging out media coverage and other data.
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Address histories can tell you other things as well. If a person has lied about a previous job on their resume, it can be obvious when you compare their job with their address. For example, if they claim to work in one state but were living in another, something on their resume must be wrong.
Equally, if a person has changed their name multiple times or moved address long distances on multiple occasions in a short period of time, an employer might feel it is reasonable to ask why as behavior such as this could be considered suspicious.
Lastly, a social security number can reveal if a person is pretending to be someone else too. They can be flagged as being used for identity theft or being inactive which can be a red flag to a prospective employer.
Best background checking site to view your record
Using those criteria, we have been testing all the top background checking sites to see which is the best to run a background check on yourself. We found that there were three sites which stood head and shoulders above the rest, so here is our top three background checking sites:
BeenVerified is a terrific all-round background checking site and as close to a specialist employment check as you will get. It generates detailed reports that present all of the information found to customers in an easy-to-understand format. We tested BeenVerified with multiple subjects and not once did they overlook a record or data-set we would expect them to find. Even when given vague or totally inaccurate information, BeenVerified could turn up the right results.
You can stay up-to-date with the progress of your checks on BeenVerified’s excellent desktop dashboard or their smooth and well-designed apps for iOS and Android devices. Their service is fast and easy to use, but there is also a responsive customer support team if you do encounter any issues
Their service is priced very reasonably too. A basic subscription is just $22.86 per month or you can pay just $14.86 per month for a three-month package. For such a detailed and professional service, this is an excellent price.
TruthFinder is another background checking site that proved impressively accurate throughout our tests. As its name implies, TruthFinder didn’t put a foot wrong, even when we ran complex searches and provided the site with limited data.
The speed of their searches was not quite as consistent as some other providers but to be fair, this did depend on the nature of the search. The final reports generated by TruthFinder were first-class as were both their dashboard and their apps. TruthFinder’s pricing was aggressive as well, at $27.78 monthly, or $23.02 per month if you sign up for 2 months at a time.
TruthFinder offers a responsive 24/7 customer support service that is available on a toll-free number which is great for new or inexperienced users. There is a real sense with TruthFinder that the customer is always their top priority which is nice as it is not the norm with many average sites.
Instant CheckMate impressed us most with the speed of their searches. They generated results faster than every other site we tested. This didn’t come at the expense of accuracy either. Instant CheckMate was impressively accurate even with vague and misleading searches.
Instant CheckMate has nice apps for iOS and Android devices and a good desktop dashboard too. Their customer service was very helpful and responsive too and their reports were both detailed and never too difficult to decipher.
At $34.78 per month, or with a discount, a three-month subscription for $27.82 per month, they are not the cheapest on the market. But if speed and accuracy are what you need, it is definitely worth paying a little more.
What is an employment background check?
Background checks are an essential part of the recruitment process for almost any business, large or small. They offer employers a cast-iron way to check that job applicants haven’t lied or misled them on their resumes. This is a problem that the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates costs employers as much as $600 million a year.
An employment background check is different from a regular public background check because it is governed by laws and regulations that do not apply to more general checks. The type of information that is generally included in an employment background check includes:
- Identity verification – this is essential to confirm that applicants are who they say they are and so protect employers from fraud and identity abuse.
- Employment verification – this is to confirm that information included on a resume is accurate as lots of people tend to either exaggerate or completely make up claims about their employment record. Applicants have to give their consent for this information to be checked, but once they have a new employer can contact past employers to make sure employment information is correct. They may also ask an employee to bring in pay slips and/or W-2 documents and other documentation to prove their employment.
- Education and licenses – If you claim to have a specific license or qualification, an employer will want to confirm this, especially if it is essential for a job. Education checks work a lot like the employment checks and can involve directly contacting academic institutions as well as checking public records.
- Criminal records – Most employers will want to know about any criminal background you may have, especially if it is relevant to the role. But there are tight restrictions they have to follow and in most states, they cannot look at records older than seven years.
- Drug use – Again, most companies don’t want to hire active drug users (including cannabis users). Some will look to run their own drug tests while others will check criminal records and other public files for evidence of drug use. There are also laws on how far back employers can search for this type of information.
How do I know what will show on my background check?
Anyone who was a Boy Scout will know that you should always “be prepared” and nowhere is that truer than when applying for a job. You will spend hours writing your resume and preparing for your interview, so you should also be ready for a background check to be run on you as well.
But how can you prepare for a background check, you might be wondering. It’s actually quite simple. The best way is to run a background check on yourself in advance to see what information comes out. That way, you can either take steps to hide any information you don’t want your new employer to know, correct your resume to match the results, or even preempt any difficult questions by getting in there early with an explanation of anything you think could be a problem.
A quick Google search will reveal that there are a lot of background checking sites out there that you could use. But how do you choose a site which will generate results that are close to what an employer will see?
To find a reputable background checking service, you will need to look for one that can offer you the following:
- Detailed research – Some background checking sites will only run a basic search of a handful of obvious public data sources. But the high-quality sites will search much deeper and pull together information from hundreds of different sources.
- Accuracy – There is no point in using a background checking service that cannot give you accurate results. Your new boss certainly won’t. So, you need to choose a background checking site that can offer you the most accurate results possible.
- Good reports – The final report is vital if you are going to understand all the data they have found. Always choose a background checking site that will generate clear, detailed and easy-to-read reports.
- Search management – It is always helpful to be able to manage your searches easily. We, therefore, suggest choosing a site with a high-quality desktop dashboard and great mobile apps too.
- Fast results – a public background check should only take seconds or minutes. More advanced searches can take as long as a few days. But anything longer than that simply isn’t good enough.
- Custom searches– When checking up on yourself it is really useful to be able to customize your searches for the specific data sources you need. Not all background check sites offer this, but all the best ones do.
- Customer Support – A reliable customer support team is a really helpful feature, especially if you run into problems with your search.
Social Security numbers and address histories are a vital part of any employment background check. The key information they can confirm is where a person has been living and that their identity is what they are claiming. They are also a vital stage of any thorough criminal record background check too.
In this article, we have explained why employment background checks look at social security numbers and address histories in detail.
We have also outlined what a full employment background check entails and why it is worth running a check on yourself before submitting to one. We recommended the best three public background checking sites to use based on our testing, with BeenVerified coming out top of the pile.
Have you ever lost out on a job because of a background check? Do you wonder why your prospective employer needed to look at your social security number? Do you have any tips for people applying for jobs who are worried about the background check stage? Our readers always appreciate learning about the experiences and advice of their peers, so why not share your thoughts today using the comment box below?