Why Should I Check My Background Records?
When most people consider conducting a background check, they think of doing so on another person or undergoing a background check prior to entering some kind of employment agreement with an outside entity. However, if you have never checked your own background records, you may be leaving yourself open to disparate treatment if they are not accurate and do not portray your character as anything other than outstanding.
How Could My Background Records be Inaccurate?
Have you ever been arrested, convicted of a crime or party to a civil case? If you have ever moved in the past, it is quite possible that a civil claim could be filed against you without your knowledge. These court documents are served to the address on file with local public offices, and if you do not respond within a certain period of time, a judge may deem you unresponsive and rule in favor of the plaintiff. In this case, it is absolutely vital to ensure no pending actions, judgments or other suits exist in your own background records.
If you were arrested but not convicted, it is also possible that this information was not conveyed correctly in the local court documents, allowing outside parties to believe that you may have been convicted of a crime. Checking your own background records can also help indicate whether someone has ever used your identity or established a reputation under your name.
What Can Other People Learn About Me?
Public documents that are accessed during a background check include birth records, marriage records, divorce records, court records and criminal records. Unless redacted from public viewing specifically by the overseeing judge, virtually anyone can access this information, so it’s best to be aware of what can be accessed in your name and to always be honest about your past.
Even something as small as a DUI charge could reflect negatively during your own background check, and other information such as tax liens, bankruptcies and judgments can help someone establish an opinion of your character and trustworthiness.
Ensuring Correct Information
If you are a convicted criminal, you want to ensure your background records offer accurate information about you. For example, if you were convicted of assault charges, you don’t want your records to say that it was a sex offense or theft. In this case, you will need to gather the publicly available information about yourself before approaching the responsible office to pursue correcting this information. Or, at the very least, be aware of the mistake in the meantime and forewarn anyone who may conduct a background check in your name.
Other public information such as personal addresses, phone numbers, emails, identities of relatives and your age or date of birth are often accessible. If you have a profile on a social network, for example, you should check your background records to ensure private information is not inadvertently exposed to the public, and if so, proceed to change it.
Anyone can search for public records in your name without your knowledge, so it is a vital act of self-preservation to ensure your records are correct and viable by conducting a background check in your own name.