If you want to run a background check on someone but you don’t have access to their social security number (SSN), you are probably wondering what you can do. After all, an SSN is a crucial form of identification and many people assume it is vital for accessing other public records about a person. In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about running background checks with and without an SSN and also recommend the best sites to use.
When you run a background check on someone, the first step (after choosing the best site) is to enter information about the person you want to research. A lot of people hesitate at this point and begin to worry that don’t know enough about someone to get the right information.
Social security numbers (SSN) are often asked for by both professional and public background checking sites and at this point people panic. After all, not everyone knows the SSN of the person they want to research. If you are running a check on a job applicant or a prospective tenant, they might not have submitted their SSN. Some people simply don’t have one.
But does the lack of an SSN mean you cannot run a background check to find out other publicly held information about someone? In this guide, we will explain everything you need to know about running background checks with and without an SSN and also recommend the best public background checking sites to use.
Can I Run a Background Check without a Social Security Number?
It depends on the type of background check you are running and the provider you are using.
Most professional background checking sites will require an SSN to run a check. If they are running a check for an employer, it would be expected that a job applicant would have provided their SSN as part of the application process so this information would be available.
If someone hasn’t provided an SSN, there is a very real prospect that an applicant isn’t eligible to work in the USA and therefore shouldn’t be considered for the role.
On a practical level, including an SSN with a background check will make it easier for a site to return accurate results. All SSN’s are individual, so having access to what is basically an individual ID number inevitably makes tracking down other information more straightforward.
However, while there are obvious advantages to knowing a person’s SSN, not all sites require it. Most public background checking sites will be able to generate results without knowing a person’s SSN. The best background checking sites can generate accurate results with little more than a person’s name and a rough idea of where they live.
These sites may run an initial search and then provide you with basic details of a few individuals that meet your initial search requirements. But from here, you will be able to identify the right person and then get access to a full background report on them, regardless of whether you know their SSN.
If you want to run a background check on someone, but don’t know their SSN, you can use a public background checking site to do so. However, if you need to run a check for professional purposes, please be aware that these sites do not comply with all the relevant legal regulations.
Public background checking sites are open to all and since the digitization of public records, a large number of these sites have sprung up. Indeed, the hardest part of running a public background check is choosing which site to use.
There are lots of public background checking sites on the market but some are much better than others. An SSN helps a site to generate accurate results, but the best public sites can find accurate information on anyone even without their SSN.
We have been testing all the top public background checking sites to find out which generates the most accurate information. As a result of these extensive tests, our researchers have identified two sites which they have concluded are significantly more accurate than all the other sites on the market.
The top two sites to run a background check without an SSN are:
TruthFinder big USP is its accuracy and it really does excel at finding accurate results even if it only has basic information and no SSN to work with. In our tests, it was one of the most accurate sites we tested and never really put a foot wrong.
TruthFinder uses a two-tier pricing structure, with a one-month subscription starting from just $27.78 or you can opt to pay $23.02 for two months. This basic package is able to dig out the most key information including detailed criminal records.
If you are happy to pay a little more for their premium package, you will get everything available, all pulled together in an impressive and detailed report. Another big USP is TruthFinder’s 24/7 customer support service that is available on a toll-free number around the clock. Regardless of SSNs, if you want accurate data, you won’t go far wrong with TruthFinder.
Instant CheckMate is another background checking site that was able to generate detailed and accurate information with a bare minimum amount of information. Their big USP is speed and in our tests, no site was able to generate results faster. But this isn’t at the expense of accuracy and we found that even without an SSN, Instant CheckMate consistently returned comprehensive and accurate results.
Managing your Instant Checkmate searches is easy with an excellent desktop dashboard and user-friendly mobile apps available to all subscribers. The data they discover is also presented in a final report that was easy to read and search through.
Subscription prices for Instant CheckMate start at $34.78 per month, but if you choose a three-month subscription you can pay $27.82 per month. This is a bit higher than some of its competitors but if you need results fast and want to be sure of their quality, Instant CheckMate is another great option.
What is a background check?
A background check is a tool that runs an automated check of all public records and compiles all the information about a person into a single report.
There is far more information about every US citizen held in the public domain than most of us realize. Searching through these records using to take a long time, but the digital age means that automated sites can now do the job in minutes. The range of information they can find is impressive and includes:
- Personal details
- Education history (high school and college)
- Employment history
- Work authorization
- Criminal records (state, county, and city)
- Licenses held
- Credit history
- Driving record
- Social media profiles
Individually, these records may not tell you much. But put them all together and they give a compelling portrait of a person. As a result, background checks are now used by companies and individuals for all sorts of different reasons such as:
- Employment checks – Employers often like to run a background check before hiring a person to check their resume is correct and they aren’t hiding anything that would prevent them from being hired.
- Renting an apartment – Landlords often like to run background checks on prospective tenants before allowing them to rent an apartment or house.
- Criminal checks – Some people like to run checks on neighbors and other people in their lives to ensure they are not hiding a secret criminal past.
- Finding out more about someone – If you have a mysterious person in your life that you want to know more about, a background check is a quick and easy way to do just that.
- Finding a lost family member or friend – If you have a long-lost cousin, aunt, or half-brother and want to track down but have no way of contacting them, a background check can help you find them quickly and easily.
- Finding out what information about you is out there – Before applying for a job or just to check your own record, you might want to run a background check on yourself to check what information about you is publicly available.
There are two main types of background checking sites; professional and public.
A professional background checking site is regulated by a number of laws, most notably the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). All its checks will comply with the laws and limitations laid out by these regulations and can, therefore, be used by companies or individuals hiring people or renting them property.
Public background checking sites are not governed by these regulations and can, therefore, reveal all public records about an individual without limitations.
A social security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number that is issued by the US government to all US citizens and eligible residents.
An SSN is used by the government to keep track of your earnings, how long you have worked, and any benefits you might be entitled to.
Once you are issued with an SSN, you will use it for life. The only exception to this is if you fall victim to identity theft when the government may, in some circumstances, agree to issue you with a new one.
In more recent times, your SSN has become an integral part of accessing a whole host of other services including obtaining credit, opening a bank account, obtaining private insurance, buying a home or a car, and much more.
One important point to note is that a person’s SSN is not a matter of public record. While some people’s SSN will show up on a background check, it will not have been sourced from any public database.
One question we get asked quite frequently is whether you can use a person’s Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) as an alternative to their SSN when running a background check.
The simple answer to this is, not really. People are issued with an ITIN for tax purposes. It is a code that can be used to facilitate the submission of tax information and the payment of tax bills.
This information is not part of public record and therefore submitting an ITIN will, more often than not, fail to generate any information that will help with a background check.
The only possible exception to this is if someone has used their ITIN to apply for credit or a loan. This would mean their ITIN would be held on their credit record and might show up on a background check. But these exceptions are not commonplace and will usually not provide sufficient confirmation to be beneficial to a background checking process.
Providing a social security number (SSN) can help to make a background check more accurate and it is required by some professional background checking sites.
But it is perfectly possible to run a public background check without knowing someone’s SSN and still generate detailed and accurate information about them. In this guide, we have explained why that is and also identified the top two background checking sites to run a check without an SSN number. We have also explained how an SSN can help a background check and why an ITIN is not a good substitute.
Have you ever had to run a background check on someone without knowing their SSN? Which of our recommended sites did you use? How easy was it to access accurate information about them? Do you have any tips or advice for our readers that we haven’t mentioned in this article? It’s always helpful to get reader’s advice too, so do share your thoughts with us using the comment box below.