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In today’s highly interconnected world, we generally know more about the people around us than ever before. Oddly though, many of us know very little about the people living closest to us. Your only contact with your neighbors may come in the form of waving hello and goodbye on your way to and from your home. Even if you strike up a casual conversation now and again you may actually know very little about the person you’re speaking with.

If you’re concerned about safety, or if you’re just generally curious, you may want to find out who your neighbor is. If you check your neighbor’s background, you may find out if they have a criminal history or even if they’re a convicted felon. Chances are, you’re perfectly safe in your home, but it’s comforting to know as much as possible about the people who live right nearby and to find out if your area is safe. If you’re wondering, “how can I check my neighbor’s background?”, here’s how you can find out what you need to know.

Start With a Name

It sounds simple, but the first piece of information you’ll need is your neighbor’s name. If you don’t already know it, there are a few ways you can go about finding out. Checking local directories are a good way to start. Since you know their address, see if they are listed in your local Whitepages. There are several sites online that will allow you to do this. They include:

Once you’ve found out their name by checking their street address, it will be much easier for you to find out more specific information about them.

Check Public Records Online

Once you find out who your neighbor is, you can conduct a search of public records to find out information about things like criminal convictions, property ownership, and business affiliation. You may also want to check their name against the U.S. Justice Department’s sex offender registry. It’s a complete database that covers jurisdictions across the country, and they should have an updated listing for anyone who’s been required to register after being convicted of a sexual crime. This will help you find criminals in your neighborhood.

Inquire at Your Local Courthouse

Not every municipality makes their records available online, so it can be a good idea to check your neighbor out by looking for their record at your local courthouse. Since these are also considered public records, you should be able to retrieve anything that they have in their files. If you’re not sure where to find your local court, check online at the National Center for State Courts, which has a nationwide listing of court systems.

Do a Background Check

Since it’s difficult and time-consuming to ferret out data from multiple sources online and in person, you may want to consider paying for a background check. Services that conduct these types of checks are used by employers nationwide, and sometimes have access to hard-to-find information. For a small fee, FreeBackgroundCheck.org will do the legwork for you, making use of their networks of contacts to provide a thorough history of your neighbor.

Stay Vigilant

It’s usually not necessary to go to such great lengths for most of your neighbors. Chances are, they’re mostly upstanding people, just like you. If you do feel it necessary to find out more, you’re now armed with the knowledge and tools you need to find out everything you need to know. As the saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.