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Need a Job? You'll Need to Pass a Background Check

by Tom Ahearn 5/14/2009 12:42:00 PM

If you are one of the estimated 14 million "officially" unemployed people in the U. S., you probably have tried just about everything to find work. Resume polishing, job fairs, interview tips, and an impressive new suit or dress can help, but in the end all of those efforts – and expenditures – will not matter if you cannot pass a background check.

Times are indeed tough for jobseekers. According to recent Labor Department reports, unemployment rates have reached their highest figures in a quarter of a century with approximately 5.7 million jobs having been lost since the recession began in December 2007. Even worse, some experts say that the job market – especially with the recent layoffs in the auto industry – may get worse before it gets better.

With a growing number of jobseekers competing in a rapidly expanding pool of qualified competitors, employers can – and most surely will – be very selective when it comes to pre-employment screening. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that more than 85% of large companies and a rapidly growing number of smaller employers currently perform some form of background checks.

From entry level to the executive suite, the majority of jobs these days require a background check, so most of the 14 million people currently looking for work will likely undergo one. What exactly is in a background check? It depends on the job or the industry, but most basic background checks include:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) Address Trace
  • Criminal Record Search
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Employment & Education Verification
  • Professional License Verification (if applicable)

Jobseekers should be ready for their background checks before actually undergoing the process. A job offer can be taken away because of a failed background check, even if the reason for that failure was false, erroneous, or inaccurate information uncovered during the background check. Many jobseekers have had this happen to them, many never knowing what was uncovered or even having the opportunity to explain.

There are several types of errors made during background checks, but the five most common mistakes are:

  • Mistaken Identity
  • Wrong Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Identity Theft & Fraud
  • Incomplete or Missing Information
  • Illegal Information

To ensure that their background check will be based on the most current and accurate data, jobseekers need to know first-hand what is included in their personal information and if it contains mistakes. To do this, they must first perform a “personal” background check on themselves to see if their data contains errors, inaccuracies, discrepancies, or incomplete/missing information.

While background checks performed by employers on prospective employees is standard procedure, jobseekers requesting background checks on themselves to better their chances of getting hired is a recent trend. These “personal checks” provide employers with validation of resume contents, ensures that public records are accurate, and helps individual jobseekers stand out from the growing pack of applicants.

While most background check companies focus exclusively on employers, was one of the first consumer background check services available online and has performed over one million background checks on individuals – including jobseekers – worldwide. For more information, visit, email, or call 1-800-503-2364.

Download FREE Article "Is Your Background Check Costing You A Job? The Five Most Common Mistakes & How To Correct Them" (.PDF File)

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Don't Let Mistakes on Background Checks Prevent You from Getting a Job

by Tom Ahearn 4/7/2009 1:41:00 PM

In today’s economic climate, finding a job seems next to impossible.  The most recent unemployment numbers are truly staggering.  According to a Labor Department report:

  • There are more than 13 million officially unemployed people in the United States;
  • The unemployment rate has reached its highest figure in a quarter of a century;
  • Over five million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007.

As if finding a job wasn’t tough enough, jobseekers competing with a large pool of qualified competitors must also deal with employers being extremely selective when hiring.  Now imagine overcoming these hurdles to be selected, only to stumble before crossing the finish line of employment because of a failed background check.  Even worse, what if the information from that check was inaccurate or out-of-date?

It's not their fault, right? Wrong! Jobseekers should expect to undergo a background check and they need to know EXACTLY what personal information will be revealed.

  • 9 out of 10 U.S. employers perform background checks before each hire!
  • An average total of 40-50 million background checks are done each year!

A new article on, "Is Your Background Check Costing You a Job?  The Five Most Common Mistakes and How to Correct Them," examines the most frequent causes of inaccurate personal information. If you are interested in discovering the most common mistakes in background checks that can keep jobs out of the hands of qualified applicants, as well as how jobseekers and consumers can take control of their personal information, please visit the home page to download the article FREE.

For more information on's personal background check services, please email or call 1-800-503-2364.

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Can’t Get a Job? The Five Most Common Mistakes in Background Checks May Be Stopping You

by Tom Ahearn 4/3/2009 3:50:00 PM

From entry level to executive suite, most jobs these days require a background check. Various surveys show that between 80 to 95 percent of U.S. businesses conduct some variety of background checks on prospective employees, and many employers are re-checking current workers in addition to applicants.

Statistics show that hiring managers find discrepancies on over 50 percent of applications and resumes. With the rise in unemployment resulting in a large pool of jobseekers, employers can – and most surely will – be as stringent as possible when it comes to the pre-employment screening process. If you are one of the millions of people currently looking for work, you most likely will undergo a background check.

What's in a Background Check?

It depends on the job, but the majority of background checks include a Social Security Number (SSN) Address Trace (to locate addresses you may have lived at) and some sort of Criminal Record Search (county, state, ‘US Crim,’ or federal). In addition, many employers seek other information such as a Sex Offender Search, an Employment and/or Education Verification, a Professional License Verification, a Motor Vehicle Driving Records (MVR) Examination, or a Credit Report.

To ensure that your personal information is correct, you need to know what possible mistakes, errors, and inaccuracies are most common during typical background checks. Once found, they can be removed or changed. Here are the “Five Most Common Mistakes in Background Checks” and the reasons they occur:

COMMON MISTAKE #1: Mistaken Identity

When you visit a social networking website like Facebook or MySpace, are you surprised to discover that so many people share your name? Do some make you say: “That’s not the right (your name)! I’m me!” So it shouldn’t come as a shock that a subject of a background check can get mixed up with a less than desirable namesake. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that a subject of a background check can get mixed up with a less than desirable namesake. What is surprising though is the fact that most criminal record cases in the United States do not contain your Social Security Number. As a result, courthouses use your name and date of birth as the main identifier. It is very easy and common for a criminal record to be returned that has your name, and in some cases your date of birth, as identifiers.

COMMON MISTAKE #2: Wrong Social Security Number

Your nine-digit Social Security Number (SSN) is more important than your name, since no one is allowed to share your SSN number (unlike your name). But a simple typo in one of those nine digits can lead to a lot of trouble during the SSN Trace, which is usually the first step in most background checks and reports any names and addresses used or associated with the SSN, and if the SSN belongs to a deceased person.

COMMON MISTAKE #3: Identity Theft & Fraud

Sometimes it is no accident when someone else ends up with your name and your SSN. Identity theft increased 22 percent in 2008 to victimize almost 10 million U.S. adults, according to a report released by Javelin Research. The unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to achieve financial gain is rapidly becoming a popular way to earn a living in today’s economy. A criminal with your identity can commit crimes, be arrested, and skip a trial, leaving you with a warrant for your arrest.

COMMON MISTAKE #4: Incomplete & Missing Information

Inaccurate and out-of-date information is bad enough, but sometimes your records contain incomplete or missing information that fails to tell “the whole story” – i.e. the truth – which means that you will have some explaining to do after a background check. “It wasn’t my fault…” and “What really happened…” are two phrases that you never want to have to say during a job interview. Most experts agree that up front communication about any criminal record is the best practice to pursue. Many background checks do not contain all of the information in the criminal file, only partial information gleaned from a quick glance or an electronic look‐up of the record. Items such as dismissals, expungement, diversion programs, or successful completion of parole or probation may be left out in error. It is important to make sure the prospective employer knows all of the facts, including how it all ended.

COMMON MISTAKE #5: Illegal Information 

Many states have protections on what information may be included in a background check or how it is procured. For example, California, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico (in most cases) limit the years your background check report may go back to a maximum of seven (7) years. Other states (Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, and Washington for example) allow the use of criminal records unless your proposed salary is above a certain amount (some are $20,000 a year and others $75,000 per year, depending on the state). Some states even restrict the types of records that may be reported (marijuana convictions, for example). On a federal level, the use of some criminal records in a hiring decision can be deemed discriminatory (Find U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on the use of criminal records at

The biggest legal issue is if you discover an employer conducted a background check on you without your written permission. All employers must receive your permission before procuring a background check through a third party agency. This federal law cannot be preempted by any state law and must be followed.

How Do I Correct Any Errors Found?

You’re in luck. The law is on your side when it comes to background checks for employment purposes. Prior to making a decision not to hire you, the employer must give you notice of their intent to do so and the name of the company that conducted the background check on you. They must also give you a copy of the report and wait at least five (5) days to allow you to dispute the information in the report. If an error is found on the report and you dispute it, the employer and the background check company must correct the errors and prove to you that they have done so.

Make Sure Your Personal Information is Accurate with a “Personal” Background Check

In today’s “Age of Information,” you are what your personal information says you are. Jobseekers consenting to a background check should at least know what information will be uncovered beforehand, and if that information is accurate, up-to-date, and secure. Or else suffer the consequences of lost jobs. Protect yourself by protecting your personal information. Find the errors before they find you. Since it is your information, it is up to you to make sure it is correct with a personal background check.

Background checks have been performed by employers on prospective employees for years. Jobseekers requesting background checks on themselves in order to better their chances of getting hired is a recent development. By giving yourself a personal background check, you are taking control of your own personal information – a good idea no matter what your employment situation is – and telling prospective employers that you have nothing to hide.If you are willing to pay for new clothes, a new haircut, a resume-polishing, a job fair, an employment seminar, or a book on how to find a job, why not purchase a background check so you can see what potential employers will see BEFORE they see it? is a pioneer in consumer‐requested background check services and one of the first to use a secure web‐based ordering portal for individuals who wish to purchase a background check. We are a leader in the growing “Personal Information Management” movement and offer consumers control over their personal information, knowledge of who is viewing their reports, and a safe and easy way to share their information with anyone else they choose. To take control of your personal information with an account from, please visit us today at, email, or call 1‐800‐503‐2364.

UPDATE: In a report first aired September 29 on CNN (video here), reporter Gerri Willis interviewed a woman who described how her husband's dream job turned into a nightmare because of false information on his background check.

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Before You Apply, Run a Background Check

by Tom Ahearn 3/30/2009 1:44:00 PM

This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes about top rated online colleges and universities. She welcomes your feedback at

With the economy in utter turmoil, many people are out there pounding the pavement hoping to find a newer or better job these days.  Recent statistics have shown that applicants for positions have risen in some industries by more than 500% from last year.  With this staggering amount of people actively seeking employment, many employers are turning to background checks than before.

If you are in the process of securing employment, there are a few reasons why you might want to do your own background check.  These reasons are expanded upon in the following brief article.

Why Run a Background Check on Yourself?

There are many reasons that you may want to run a background check, but the most important reason is to ensure that things are accurate concerning the public record.  Checking with various departments and institutions will ensure that you are not misrepresented on paper.  Often, human error has a lot to do with blemishes on your records and remedying these problems will ultimately save you time and trouble down the line.

Get a Copy of Your Driving Records

Contact your state’s DMV headquarters and request a driving record.  If you have been ticketed or issued warnings, these items may be present on your driving record.  Make sure that any tickets that have been settled are properly annotated and take care of any discrepancies by following the guidelines set by the DMV in your state.

Even Credit Can Harm You

Although it may seem unfair, a lot of companies run a full credit report on you when you apply for a job.  You can either get your credit reports from all three major reporting bureaus or write in for physical copies of your credit report by mail.  Once you have examined the reports, look for discrepancies or anything that may impede your ability to obtain employment.  Try your best to dispute or remedy problems as necessary to improve your name on paper.

Be Proactive

This is a proactive step to know what you’re up against when it comes to background requirements for a job.  Knowledge is power, so even if you are unable to change anything on your record you will at least know what your potential employer is looking at.  This may be useful come interview time if you have any explaining to do and shows that you are proactive enough to know exactly where you stand.  This could mean the difference between getting the job and being passed over. – one of the first web-based personal background check companies – helps individuals view and manage their personal information, check credit scores, correct inaccuracies, and prevent identity theft and fraud.  For more information about our multiple services, please visit, email, or call 1-800-503-2364.


Enhance Employment Opportunities with Personal Background Checks

by Tom Ahearn 2/16/2009 4:53:00 PM

Background checks have been performed on prospective employees by employers for years. However, the act of these jobseekers requesting “personal” background checks on themselves in order to enhance their employment opportunities is a recent development.

Jobseekers requesting personal background checks are a growing market that is rapidly gaining popularity and a great deal of momentum. Why? Because there are more jobseekers than ever now and the competition for employment is fierce. According to recent U.S. Labor Department reports, 3 million people lost jobs in 2008 and nearly 600,000 more did so in January 2009.

With more unemployed jobseekers comes more resume fraud. A recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 53 percent of all job applications contained inaccurate information. That figure is certain to rise along with the number of unemployed jobseekers. Unfortunately, when companies hire unqualified job applicants everyone loses: the companies that now must deal with the cost in time and money spent on unqualified employees AND the qualified jobseekers who told the truth but lost jobs to unqualified competitors who did not.

Ordering personal background checks can help jobseekers gain a crucial advantage over their competition. According to SHRM, more than 96 percent of U.S. employers currently perform background checks to validate the identity and background of jobseekers and uncover any criminal history. Personal background checks allow jobseekers to know exactly what personal information will be revealed to employers, while also giving them the opportunity to make sure that information is accurate, correct errors, and prevent ID theft.

Having gained valuable insight into their own personal information, jobseekers who order personal background checks can feel more confident and relaxed during the other portions of the pre-employment screening process, especially the all-important interview. Bottom line: jobseekers need to see what background checks will reveal before employers do, and personal background checks are the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this task.

What jobseekers don’t know can and will hurt them. With personal background checks, jobseekers gain an edge in today’s crowded job market. While most background check companies serve employers, – one of the first consumer requested background check services and a member of The Family of Companies – specializes in personal background checks for individuals.

With a Personal Background Check Account, jobseekers can view and manage information, show reports to employers over a secure network, and receive knowledge of who is viewing their reports. If inaccurate information is discovered in a background check, a dispute resolution service helps account members remove the discrepancies and keep their personal background check information current, secure, and accurate.’s Employment Enhancement packages help jobseekers provide employers with the background check information needed to extend job offers to qualified candidates. As jobseekers desire more control over their personal background check information and employers continue to seek ways to reduce costs and lessen risks, presents the only solution for all of these needs. 

Jobseekers interested in an Employment Enhancement package – including a U.S. Criminal File Search, Social Security Number (SSN) Address Locator, Sex Offender Registry Search, Previous Employment Verification, and Education Verification – should visit To create a Personal Background Check Account, go to For more information on personal background check services, please visit, email, or call 1-800-503-2364.

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