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These days, just about every employer requires a background check before extending an offer of employment. With easy access to social media platforms and do-it-yourself background checks, virtually anyone can fully vet you with just a few spare moments and an open pocketbook. So how do you know just what information is available to the public when they enter your information into a background check? Well, run one on yourself, of course.

While that may seem like an unnecessary precaution, a smudge on your report could potentially set you up for lost opportunities, especially if you don’t know about it. Running a background check on yourself doesn’t take much time and will alert you to any potential issues that may be the cause of frustration down the road. All it takes is a few minutes of your time and parting with a few of your hard-earned dollars, but the peace of mind you’ll get in return is most definitely worth the cost.

Why should I check my own background?

Reporting systems aren’t perfect and sometimes, inaccurate information shows up where it shouldn’t. Potential employers and even loan and leasing companies will look for your information to determine what kind of risk you pose to them. Often times, they will check your credit along with your background, so making sure that everything is accurate and up-to-date can serve you well. Finding errors after it’s already too late to change a decision is the unfortunate consequence of failing to stay abreast of what’s contained in your reports. Running a background check on yourself will allow you to be the first set of eyes scanning your information. If you do find errors in your report, you can file a dispute to have them removed. It’s best that you find out what shows up on your background check first.

What shows up in a background check?

What shows up in a background check will depend on the level of the check being conducted. Depending on the type of employment you seek, you may be required to submit to a rigorous and extremely comprehensive check. Government, military and educational professions are all subject to rigorous investigation, so knowing what may appear on your report is critical. Most employers, however, conduct fairly basic checks that don’t delve quite as deep into your history. Your report may include the following information:

While some information may drop off your report after a predetermined period of time, this is usually several years. Don’t assume something that you may have done a couple years ago won’t be visible to prying eyes. If however, you find information that is not consistent with what you know to be true, you can file a petition to change it. This is sometimes the case with individuals sharing a common name. Occasionally, one of the parties involved has a less-than-stellar reputation that may affect the innocent party’s ability to get a job, a house or a loan. To avoid this situation, checking your own background before someone else misinterprets it can save you the headache and misery that has plagued many an applicant in this position.

How do I background check myself?

To get the most accurate and up-to-date information on yourself, you’ll have to check your record with more than just a Google search. While Google may be able to give you a quick rundown of information that may be floating around, utilizing a more in-depth service provider is critical. Many online companies offer the ability to run a background check on yourself, so do a bit of research.

Once you have decided on a provider, you will need to determine the extent of their search. For the most comprehensive search, be certain to select an option that includes county, state, and national records, along with driving records and education verification. Once selected, all you have to do is enter your information just as a potential employer would. When you’ve finished, send it off and wait for them to complete the check. When you receive your results, be sure to verify that everything is true and accurate. If you do find an error, as previously mentioned, you can petition to have it removed or changed.

By conducting your own research prior to submitting a stack of job or loan applications, you can ensure that the process will go off without a hitch. Knowing what’s on your background check will give you peace of mind when it comes to signing your name on that dotted line.