In the digital age, privacy is a concern, and you may be wondering whether running a background check is an anonymous activity. Today’s article will explain in what circumstances you can run an anonymous background check, how to do it, and recommend the best sites to use for the job.
People want to run background checks for all sorts of different reasons. Some want to know a little more about someone in their local area, some want to trace a lost family member, some want to see if an applicant is suitable for a job.
But there can be times when it would embarrassing for the person to know that you have looked into their records. That’s when you need an anonymous background check. And yes, it is possible to run a background check anonymously, but they are only available in certain circumstances.
In this article, we will explain when it is permissible to run a background check anonymously and when you are not allowed. We will also tell you the best background checking sites to use to carry out an anonymous background check.
What is a background check?
Before we explain more about anonymous background checks, it is important to define exactly what we mean by a background check.
A background check is a method of finding out information about someone. They can be used in all sorts of different circumstances and can turn up all manner of different types of information about a person. The sort of information you are likely to find out includes:
- Criminal records (state, county, and city)
- Credit history
- Employment history
- Work authorization
- Education history (high school and college)
- Social media profiles
- Driving record
- Licenses held
The exact information you will get depends on which background checking service you are using, the purpose of running the background check, and what information is available about a person in the public records.
There are several different reasons why you might want to run a background check on someone. These could include:
- Employment checks – Many employees insist on running a background check as part of their hiring process.
- Criminal checks – You can check to discover whether someone has a criminal record.
- Finding a lost family member or friend – If you lose contact with a friend or relative, a background check is an effective way to track them down.
- Finding information about someone – If you want to know more about someone in your life, a background check is a simple way to do it.
- Checking for local sex offenders – If you are worried about possible sex offenders living in your neighborhood, a background check can reveal all.
- Checking records about yourself – background checks are a great way to check what records about yourself are in the public domain.
Background checks will reveal information that is already in the public domain, so it is information that you have every right to access. But there are still some situations where you might feel embarrassed about the being seen to carry out such a check.
In those situations, it might be possible to carry out an anonymous background check. But this is not always the case, so it is important to be sure that running an anonymous check is legal before you do so.
What is the best anonymous background checking site?
The good news is that anonymous background checks are possible; they are just not permitted in some circumstances. Before we explain when you can and cannot carry out an anonymous background check, we are going to highlight the best background checking sites to use.
We know that anonymity is really important to some people. So, our team have spent the past few weeks rigorously testing all the top background checking sites to see which offer the best all-round service while still preserving user anonymity. Here are our top 3 recommended background check sites offering anonymous services:
BeenVerified is the best all-round background checking site on the market right now. Not only do they carry out checks totally anonymously but subjects will never have any clue they have been checked up on. You can run a check with the barest of information and BeenVerified will produce a comprehensive report consisting of every public record there is out there.
This information is put together in an easy-to-read report which can be accessed through their excellent desktop dashboard or apps. Despite the amount of data they can gather, BeenVerified is quick. They can compile a basic report in just a few minutes. Even if they have to send out researchers to manually search through local files, the information comes back in just a few days.
Their basic subscription rate is $26.89 per month or you can pay a mere $17.48 per month for a three-month subscription. For that modest fee, we felt they offered superb value for money.
Instant CheckMate is another background checking site able to deliver anonymous background checks. Their standout feature is their speed; no site generated reports faster, and in none of our tests did they miss out any significant information.
Instant CheckMate uses a two-tier pricing structure. Prices for Instant CheckMate begin at $34.78 per month, and with a discount, a three-month subscription is just $27.82 per month. At this basic level, they generate an impressive amount of information. But you do also have the option to pay a little more for their premium service.
There is no trace of your search for a subject to find which means anonymity is guaranteed. So, if you need an anonymous check running fast, Instant CheckMate is a great option for you.
TruthFinder was another background checking site we found able to deliver high-quality anonymous background checks. Their basic reports contain an impressive amount of information and are well laid-out and easy to read. Their time varied a little more than our other recommended sites but was still more than fast enough for most users.
Like other background checking sites, they use a two-tier pricing structure with prices starting at $27.78 for one month or $23.02 for two months. These prices are competitive especially at the lower tier where we felt they generally offered a little more information.
They have 24/7 customer support on a toll-free number which is great, especially for new users.
When are anonymous background checks permitted?
Background checks can broadly be divided into two different types: formal and informal.
An informal background check is when an individual wants to find out information about someone in their life. It could be a family member, neighbor, teacher, friend, or the bloke you met in a nightclub last Friday.
This type of background check could be motivated by curiosity, concern, or a whole host of other reasons. But in these types of situation, it is perfectly legal to run an anonymous background check on them.
The best and quickest way to do this is by using one of the three background checking sites we recommended above. Any of these sites will be able to pull up information such as criminal records, personal details, credit rating histories, social media records, and much more.
These checks are carried out by running searches of publicly available information. There is no trace left on any record that the search has been carried out and therefore absolutely no way that the subject can find out that a background check has been run on them, never mind the fact that it was you that ran it.
When are anonymous background checks not permitted?
If you need to carry out a formal background check on someone, the rules are different.
A formal background check including things like vetting applicants for a job, prospective tenants, or loan application. Under these circumstances they type of background check you can carry out is constrained by law and anonymous background checks are not permitted.
The most relevant law in these circumstances is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This law requires employers to notify candidates in writing that a background check is required. The applicant must provide written consent before the check is carried out.
The relevant documents must be provided to the candidate separately so there is no confusion about what they are agreeing. Given these legal constrictions, such background checks are therefore inevitably not anonymous.
Similar rules are also in place for loan applicants and prospective tenants. In both cases, formal permission is required before carrying out a check which makes anonymity impossible.
If you need to run a background check for one of these reasons, you would be breaking the law if you do so without informing the subject first.
If you are unsure whether your background check would be considered formal or informal under US law, it is best to check with a legal advisor before proceeding.
RELATED READING: 7 Common myths about background checks
Background checks can be anonymous but it is not always legal to run a check without first informing the subject. In this article, we have explained the difference between formal and informal background checks and explained when you are permitted to run a check anonymously.
We have also recommended the top three background checking sites to use if you do want to run an anonymous background check.
Is there anything we have missed anything out? Have you any experience of running anonymous background checks? Do you have any additional tips for our readers? We always welcome feedback and comments from our readers to help inform others, so why not share your own experiences with us using the comment box below?