Are Free Background Checks Really Free?


Published: 07/20/2011

by Bo Sepehr


Often I receive calls that are asking if we provide free background checks.  My curious response may well be “what business you are in?”  Let’s say the reply is the "toy store business".  When asked if they provide their inventory of toys for free the predicable laughing response is an emphatic "NO!"   As the conversation continues I wonder what makes them think that I can provide free background checks and keep my doors open. Then the rational begins about how their business is different and the various justifications that we can provide a free background check service, as it appears other screening companies do on the Internet.

The truth is that all businesses must generate a profit to continue operating.  There aren’t any professional background screening companies that offer a genuine “free” Background Check that has any significant value. Just how would they stay in business? Common sense indicates that there’s much more to this story.

The critical fact that one must understand is that most of the services that offer “free” criminal background checks online do not really provide what they promise. They are just trying to lure people to their website to sign up for additional paid services. They will only provide vague basic details free of charge and then charge for the needed complete in-depth information. 

Let’s say you want to carry out a background check – we’ll leave the possible reasons out for now. You log onto the internet and use your favorite search engine and you find a whole host of sites, all offering to gather the total amount of information you need, free of charge. So off you go.

But don’t be surprised if you don’t receive what you’re expecting. Here’s why:

You’re looking, say, for John Doe, and you guess he’s approximately 35 years old. You enter this information into your free background check and you might well receive a mountain of information. You’ll find out where many people called John Doe used to live. You’ll get all the information about every John Doe who has paid taxes, used public utilities, or done anything else that there is a public record available for. If you are really fortunate, you might find out something about your particular John Doe. But what you won’t get is an exact address, or a telephone number. Even if you strike gold and the search locates the John Doe you want to know about, don’t be surprised if the response you receive goes along the lines of: ‘We have lots of information about John Doe – which we will pass on to you if you pay us for it.’ This is a common enough means of luring people into using allegedly “free” background checks.

Typically companies carrying out these “free” checks don’t update their database information as often as they should, some of whom have daily updates. You very well could find yourself being given outdated information about John Doe, or missing out on his latest entries.

This is a planned marketing format; however it’s deceptive and suggests that such sites are not trustworthy. Most of them provide automatic responses, offer no telephone contact and quite possibly never even conduct a record search.

If you decide on using an online service, select a reputable paid service that accurately explains what they provide; acts professionally and performs what they promise.

In the long-run you’re better off working with a reasonably priced alternative instead of searching for the elusive “free” criminal background check. There are many competitive service providers on the Internet that provide detailed background screening. In fact, many private investigators or private detectives use these same services then charge their clients an enormous fee for the same information! In reality there’s never a “free” lunch and there certainly aren’t any “free” background checks either.


 Here’s a professional Background Check Sample Report for you to see.