Everyone seems to do background checks on you: Credit card companies, potential employers, even people you meet online. It seems like everyone knows more about you than you do! Why not do a background check on yourself and find out what’s out there?
With that information, you might be able to get ahead of the curve and correct any inaccuracies. Or, you might just give yourself peace of mind knowing that everything is in order.
Here’s how to do a background check on yourself:
Start with the basics. Google yourself and see what comes up. This will tell you what information is readily available about you. It will show you many of the sites that may hold some of your personal information.
If they have the information you don’t want them to have, you can try to contact the site and have it removed. You may not always be successful, but it’s worth a try. You do have some legal recourse in this matter, particularly if the site is in the United States. If the sites are using your likeness or quoting you without permission, you may have a valid DMCA complaint.
Check Your Credit Report
Your credit report includes information like how often you’ve made payments on time, what kind of debt you have, and whether you have had any bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past. This information is used by potential employers, landlords, and lenders to determine whether or not you’re a good risk.
You’re entitled to one free credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies every year. You can request your reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Look for any inaccuracies in your report and dispute them with the appropriate agency. This can be a lengthy process, but it’s worth doing if you want to improve your credit score.
Do a Background Check
One of the most complete ways to find out about yourself online is to do a background check. Background checks usually include a search of criminal records, public records, and sometimes even social media posts.
Usually, the best way to do a background check on yourself is to use a paid service. These services will give you access to public records, criminal records, and other information that might not be available through a simple Google search.
Paid Services can be expensive, so make sure you’re getting one that’s worth the money. Read reviews and compare pricing before you commit to anything.
Search for Your Criminal History
If you’ve ever been arrested, there will likely be a record of it. This is public information that anyone can access. You can search for your criminal history on the National Sex Offender Public Website, the National Crime Information Center, or your state’s sex offender registry.
If you find any inaccuracies, you can dispute them with the appropriate agency. This process can be lengthy, but it’s worth doing if you want to clear your record.
Check for a Court Judgment Against You
Court judgments are public records, so if you’ve ever been sued or have had any other legal action taken against you, there will be a record of it. You can search for court judgments against you on PACER, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records website.
If you find a judgment against you that you don’t think is accurate, you can dispute it with the court. This process can be complicated, so you may want to hire a lawyer to help you.
Clean up Your Social Media
If you’re not careful about what you post, it could come back to haunt you.
Potential employers, landlords, and lenders will all be looking at your social media to get an idea of who you are. If they see anything that makes them question your character, it could cost them the job, the apartment, or the loan.
Go through your social media posts and delete anything that could be considered controversial or offensive. Set your privacy settings to the highest level so that only your friends and family can see your posts.
Your info is out there. Do a background check on yourself to see what potential employers, landlords, and lenders will find. Take steps to clean up your online presence so that you can put your best foot forward.