There are so many reasons in our daily lives that we could need to look into a person’s background. You might be hiring someone for a job, you could be considering bringing them into your home as a babysitter or housekeeper, or they could be a potential roommate.
You could also look into someone’s background if you’re thinking about dating them and you currently only know them from speaking online or by phone.
There are free ways to check someone’s background, and there are also paid options.
The following is a guide to what you should know and how you can dig more into someone’s past and make sure they’re a person you want to bring into your life, business, or home.
1. Start with Google
One of the easiest free ways to start looking into someone’s background in the broadest sense is to use Google. Don’t just add their name into the search results because you might find common name matches, and your searches won’t be narrowed down at all, so it’ll take you much longer to find information that’s relevant.
You can instead try searching their phone number or email address to see what comes up. You might also put their full name in quotes in the search bar, and you can add additional phrases. Phrases to add with their name, all in quotes, include:
- Their name and outstanding debt
- The name and divorce
- A full name and criminal record
- Name and school or university
You can begin to narrow down search results to what’s most important to you when you add these additional terms.
When you’re using Google, it’s important to remember that it’s easy to slander people online or spread false information about them, so take things you’re reading with a grain of salt unless you know for sure it’s true, accurate, and referring to the person you’re searching for.
2. Do A Public Records Search
There are free online public record search tools that can be helpful when you want to learn more about someone’s background. You can use these sites, which are specifically designed to aggregate results from public records. They turn information from a lot of different sources into a single, consolidated report on the people you’re searching for. Depending on what information you want, you may have to pay a fee for some things on public records search sites.
You do save yourself a lot of time, and you can find more details.
3. Search County Criminal Records
In the United States, criminal records tend to be part of the public record. When something’s part of public record, it’s not considered confidential, so you can often find them and see them. Criminal records can vary in how they’re recorded and filed depending on local laws, though.
If you know the county or state someone lives in, you might be able to see parts of their criminal history online.
If you don’t find anything, that doesn’t automatically mean someone doesn’t have a criminal record. It could mean the courthouse doesn’t have an online criminal records database. If that’s the case, you might have to pay an administrative fee to request the documents in person.
4. Use Social Media
You can learn a lot about someone by looking at their social media profiles, but it’s not a perfect resource. People tend to put things on social media that are going to paint them in a flattering light, but still, it’s worth finding these profiles if they exist. Remember to look at not just Facebook but also Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
If you can’t find someone right away, but you know the city they live in, you can try searching for their last name along with their city. Then at a minimum, you might find one of their relatives. Go through that person’s friends list to see if you can find the person. You might be able to if you couldn’t originally locate them because they had their search feature disabled or their name was listed differently.
When you’re checking someone out on social media, look at their friend list. Does one gender primarily make up their list? When were their posts made? Were they all made within the last few weeks, or does the person have a history going back years? Is there more than one picture available of them? Who likes their posts? These are things that can start to give you clues if you’re being scammed, particularly if you’re dating someone you’ve met online.
LinkedIn is a great social site to verify what someone has told you. You can see if what they’re saying about their education, credentials, and career history matches what they’ve listed on their Linkedin profile.
You can also see who they’re connected with professionally and whether anyone’s endorsed them on LinkedIn.
5. Reverse Image Search
If someone has sent you a photo of themselves, or you have one from a social media profile, run it through a reverse image search. You use Google to do this, and you can, at a minimum, begin to figure out if someone is catfishing you and pulling pictures from someone else’s account or using stock photos.
You’ll be able to find other places where the same image has been posted.
To do a reverse image search, you save a copy of the picture to your computer. Go to images.google.com and click “upload an image.” Then, you can click through the search results to see where else it’s posted online, or you can use the “visually similar images” that should show up at the bottom of the page.
6. Use the “Stud or Dud” App
Finally, there’s an app available that is trying to make online dating safer. It’s called Stud or Dud, and it’s marketed as the first free background app. You can create an account and then find more information about someone before you meet up with them.