What Does a Background Check Consist of?

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Updated · Aug 14, 2023

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Teodora Dobrilova
Editor-in-chief, Social Media And Digital Marketing Expert | Joined October 2021
Teodora Dobrilova

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A background check includes details of a person's life, from their educational background to their credit rating and criminal history. Any Information gathered through this process is essential for businesses and employers. 

In 2021, 91% of employers screened applicants for full-time positions. Screening through background checks is vital to evaluating job eligibility and accessing services like loans and credit cards.

Yet, background checks consist of more than basic screening and personal inquiry. This article will explain background screening, its components, and the tools it can use to conduct it. Read on.

Key Takeaways

  • Background checks are crucial for employers to verify applicant identity, education, and criminal history.
  • There are various types of background check information, but using a specific method depends on its purpose and the information needed. 
  • Employers, banks, and landlords should conduct background checks properly to ensure the legality of the information-gathering process.
  • There are tools available to make background checks faster and easier.

Components of a Background Check

A background check is a helpful tool for businesses in many ways. Through this, companies can verify the identity of the person they are dealing with. 

There are ways to do a background check: basic and complete, but both provide substantial information.

Below is a comparison of the information you can gather from a basic and comprehensive background check.

Basic Background Check

Complete Background Check

  • Basic Identity Details (Name, Age, Prior Address, Aliases, Social Security Number)
  • Criminal Records
  • Sex Offender Records
  • Basic Identity Details
  • Criminal Records
  • Sex Offender Records
  • Tenant Eviction Information
  • Credit History Data
  • International Watch List Report
  • Drug Screening Results
  • Comprehensive Employment Records
  • Professional References
  • Education Background
  • Driving Records

Conducting either of these comes with advantages and disadvantages. A basic search can be faster and less expensive than a complete one. On the other hand, a thorough background search can provide in-depth information about a person.

Information on Different Types of Background Checks 

More than one background check information is required as certain background checks offer specific information. This is why multiple background checks are required.

Employers can perform many background checks. Their basis will depend on various factors as to what the company is or if the applicant needs a background check.

Listed below are the 12 most common background checks: 

12 types of common background checks

1. Criminal Record Check

This background check is done to verify if the applicants pose a potential threat to clients and the company. Criminal records are essential for jobs involving financial information, security control, and vulnerable populations like the elderly and children.

A criminal record background check consists of the following:

  • Records of any arrest
  • Convictions of any felonies or misdemeanors
  • Court records and warrants
  • Sex offenses 
  • Prison records
  • Filed charges (pending, dismissed, or acquitted)


Dismissed charges can still appear in background checks, confusing employers and business owners. Employers may use it to judge someone without verifying it with the person concerned. 

To learn more about dismissed charges and how they affect background checks, read TechJury’s article: If Charges are Dismissed, Do You Have a Criminal Record?

2. Employment History Verification

An applicant's prior experience gives insights into what employers should expect. It also gives them ideas about the applicant’s job stability, integrity, and loyalty. 

💡 Did You Know? 

11% of job applicants give false reasons for leaving their previous employer. Verifying the applicant's employment and work history and obtaining confirmation of earlier employers is crucial.

Details in an employment history verification include the former employer's company name and the designation and job duties of the applicant. This helps the hiring team verify the applicant’s resume information.

Other information includes work schedules, reasons for leaving, and salary rates. This will clarify the gaps and short stints at the applicant’s previous employers. 

3. Education Background Verification

Certain job offers require specific educational attainment and degrees. For this reason, companies conduct a background check to verify the level of education and where the applicant received it.

Conducting an education background verification helps employers narrow down the job candidates. It also lets them avoid applicants who forge educational attainment in their resumes.

💡 Did You Know? 

39.2% of Americans in the US lied about their high school details, while 41% lied about their college degrees. This led to companies conducting educational inquiries to avoid hiring applicants with falsified accounts.

To learn more about why you or your company should conduct background checks, read TechJury’s article Why Background Check Statistics Matter More Than You Think.

4. Professional Reference Check

A professional reference check is a standard part of any company’s hiring process. Applicants must provide references whenever they apply for a job, as HR managers will use this information to verify the applicants’ information.

Through this process, a company can confirm the information an applicant provided. Any falsified information or document will lead to a candidate failing this background check.

✅ Pro Tip:

Employers typically request references from previous employers, providing valuable information about the applicant's background and experience, during the hiring process.

Preparing a list of professional references is crucial for a smooth application process for both the applicant and the employer.

Here are the recommended reference options:

  • Previous managers or supervisors
  • Professors or Thesis Advisors
  • Coworkers
  • Supervisors at volunteer organizations
  • Athletic coaches

5. Drug Screening

Industries like transportation, aerospace, and health care require drug testing upon application. 

Drug testing determines whether the prospective applicants have illicit substances in their system. This screening also ensures that applicants have a healthy mind and can be trusted.

💡 Did You Know? 

65% of businesses say they have applicants who cannot pass a drug test. While 15% of companies claim that applicants who do not pass the screening process are not automatically denied employment. 

6. Sexual Offender Records Check

A sexual offenders record check can verify whether a person has been convicted of a sex offense. An active sex offender's background check report includes names, aliases, marks, tattoos, and registered addresses.

Conducting a thorough check reduces the company's risk of workplace sex offenses or violence.

💡 Did You Know? 

23% of employees experienced harassment or violence within the workplace. Female employees also experienced more cases of sexual assault, with 30,000 reported cases in the US.

Learn more statistics about workplace violence with TechJury’s article: 15 Disturbing Workplace Violence Statistics for 2023

7. Credit History Check

A credit history check is an essential process for applying for loans. Information gathered from this gives companies and businesses an idea of whether the person pays bills on time. It can also help companies to decide if the applicant can get a loan.

For employment, jobs related to financial management require credit history reports. This process protects companies from potential legal liability, theft, and embezzlement. 

📓What the Research Says:

In the US, employees steal around $50 million from companies annually. Also, 75% of employees have stolen from their employers at least once. This statistic only shows that employee theft is prevalent in the workplace. 

A credit history check is crucial for application screening, preventing office theft, and hiring the right candidate.

A credit check provides the following information about a person:

  • Reported Tax Cases
  • Issues On Debts
  • Poor Credit Rating
  • Bankruptcy Record

8. Social Media and Internet Check

Employers do a social media and internet check on applicants to see what they are up to on social media. Looking into an applicant's social media provides insight into whether their values and goals align with the company's.

Another detail social media can reveal is the behavior of the applicant. It can verify if the applicant was dishonest during their application or had any damaging information posted online.

9. Driving Record

Companies that require their employees to drive cars conduct this background information check. This assesses the behavior and skills of an applicant as a driver or see if they are qualified for the job. 

A driving record background check shows:

  • Accident reports and DUI Convictions
  • Traffic citations
  • Other Vehicular Crimes

Conducting this information check helps ensure the safety of potential clients and the company’s assets.

10. Professional License and Certificate Verification

Businesses that rely on professional licenses must conduct professional license verification. Some applicants may present forged or expired licenses. In 2021, fraud on verified documents such as IDs, employment certificates, and licenses increased by 15% compared to the following year.

A typical professional license and certificate verification provides the following information:

  • Type of license and certificate number
  • Issuance date and expiration date
  • Any disciplinary actions and sanctions
  • Validity of the license

11. Tenant Screening 

Through tenant screening, landlords can identify red flags and avoid problematic renters. Screening potential tenants reveals their credit score, rental history, and criminal history.  

That information gives the landlord an idea of what the potential tenant can afford. It can also help landlords decide whether to rent the property to the potential tenant.

🔖Helpful Article:

Landlords' top priority is to avoid bad tenants. Thus, tenant screening is a must. Read TechJury’s article about tenant screening and how to do one: How to Run a Background Check on a Tenant.

12. Universal Background Check

A universal background check is a policy that requires background checks for all firearm sales transactions and transfers. 

This policy aims to prevent people with criminal records and mental illnesses from owning firearms. Additionally, implementing this policy may reduce violence.

📓What the Research Says:

30% of criminally trafficked guns come from gun shows without background checks. Private handgun sales that conduct background checks have a 48% lower firearm suicide rate. 

How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

The extent of background check information varies depending on the company's requirements and the purpose of the check.

Below are selected types of background information checks and how far they should go.

Type of Background Check

Length of Time 

Pre-employment Check

This is the most typical background check. It usually covers 7 years of records and details about criminal records.

Credit History Check

It usually covers 7 years of records. It may depend on the applicant's expected salary.

Criminal Record Check

Convictions are reportedly indefinitely but may be restricted up to 7 years.

Driving Record

Usually, driving records can go back up to 3 - 10 years.

Education Background Verification

It can be verified throughout a lifetime.

Employment History Verification

It can be verified throughout a lifetime. However, it can be limited depending on the number of employers and years of employment.

Professional License & Certificate Verification

It can be verified throughout one's lifetime. However, it can be limited, depending on the kind of license.

Background checks are crucial for sensitive jobs, but employers must protect candidates' privacy and ensure legality by collecting accurate information.

Comprehensive Background Check Sites 

Doing a background check can be challenging for employers and hiring managers. Fortunately, some tools can be used to make it easier and faster.

Here is a list of reputable background check sites:

1. TruthFinder

Truthfinder logoSource: Wikipedia



  • Available on mobile applications
  • Unlimited reports for a monthly subscription
  • Advanced search options
  • Provides updated results
  • It can be used for personal background checks
  • It has a Dark Web scan feature

  • Requires a monthly subscription plan
  • PDF downloads cost extra 
  • Limited to US citizens within the US
  • Many pop-up ads

TruthFinder has been a trusted background check site for 8 years. It was launched in March 2015 in San Diego, California, and was founded by Kris Kibak and Joey Rocco.

The platform provides information about a person for background checks. TruthFinder uses public records, social media records, and deep web searches to generate thorough reports about the person under search.

Users can make informed decisions using the platform after conducting thorough research.

The monthly basic membership fee for TruthFinder costs $28.05. Users can do unlimited searches and access a wide range of information. 

However, users can avail themselves of a free trial of TruthFinder for 5 days. Users can use the app for $1, and later they can decide if they want a monthly subscription.

2. Intelius

Intelius logoImage Source: H.I.G Capital



  • Offers different subscription plan
  • Wide public database records
  • Good mobile applications for Android and iOS
  • Fast results
  • User-friendly interface

  • Incomplete reports
  • Limited customer service

Intelius has been recognized as one of the best background check services available. They provide services like people searches, reverse phone lookups, identity protection, and background checks.

The platform offers a pay-as-you-go plan for one-time searchers, with background checks costing $39.95. However, if users want to conduct unlimited searches, they can avail themselves of the Premier membership for $19.95 a month. 

3. Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate logoImage Source: Top Ten Reviews



  • Easy to navigate system menu
  • Available for smartphone app
  • Comprehensive search results
  • Locator service for sexual offenders
  • Social media search function

  • Inefficiency in making reports
  • Lower users ratings
  • Inflexible pricing structure

Another background check service is Instant Checkmate. It is a service that utilizes public records and other public data to generate comprehensive reports of the person being searched.

Like any other background service, it offers people search, reverse phone, and email lookup services. A monthly subscription plan for Instant Checkmate costs $35.12/month. Subscribers also have unlimited access to reports. 

✅ Pro Tip:

Background checks on someone have become more accessible with background check sites. To help you choose the suitable background check sites on the market.

Check TechJury’s reviews and find the best background check sites to meet your needs: Review of Background Check Companies and The Best Background Check Sites for 2023


Background checks provide plenty of information about a person. There are many background check sites and apps, each providing different data and essential details.

To hire or allow a person to use a service, companies, and businesses do background checks. The type of background check depends on what information they need.


What can be revealed in a background check?

A background check can reveal basic personal information, criminal history, and employment history. Other information, such as credit and education history, is also included in the background check results.

How do you fail a background check?

There are a lot of red flags that might lead to failing a background check. Criminal history records, forged educational backgrounds, and other inconsistencies in an applicant’s initial information can contribute to a failed background check.

Will a background check show all my jobs?

Yes, background checks verify your career history to show all jobs you’ve been in, how long you stayed in each role, and more. Hiring managers verify this information to ensure the legitimacy of the job history in your resume. 

Does a background check include a credit check?

Credit check history is not typically included in a basic information check. However, jobs with financial management or any involvement with money require it.


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