In this day and age, with more and more individuals resorting to any means to get ahead in the rat race, there is no disputing the importance of doing background checks to prevent mishaps and losses. Conducting background checks on an individual or on a particular firm you are planning to do business with is no longer a game of the big fishes. It is done by everyone these days, be it a big shot company or a family planning to hire a nanny. Graph When a company is planning to hire an employee, be it a small or big investment, a proper background check will prevent the company from making a big mistake and putting a nail in their coffin. Inadvertently hiring a person with a history of jail records, drug abuse, mental imbalance and using aliases will put the company’s reputation at stake.

It is believed that a huge majority of applicants put the wrong information in their job application and stage exaggerated claims of their achievements to get selected. Serious background checks are obligatory in state and federal jobs to keep a check on terrorist’s activities. Even in India, where till some time back most marriages were pre arranged, the bride’s family will covertly run a check on the groom and his family. Discreet inquires are made of the groom about his behavior, how he is perceived in society and how successful he is in his job; if the check produces a clean bill of good behavior, then he is selected. If a couple decides to bring in a nanny to look after their kids, they will run a check with the agency and at the same time make some inquiries discreetly about the prospective job seekers before deciding on one. They will want to know how long the nanny has held her previous job, what caused her to leave, how she performed in her previous jobs, ask her for at least 3 references and so on.

A house owner runs a check on his prospective buyers and does his best to find out the occupation of the client, whether he has any connection with terrorists, whether the tenant had paid his rent on time and with what kind of people they fraternize. If the house owner is prompt in his homework then there is a good chance he himself doesn’t end up in a police station. Screening reports may include a verification of an applicant's Social Security number to a detailed report of the prospective employee’s history.

Employers resort to checking social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. to check in on the job applicant’s profile and ask for references on their friend list. There are different kinds of background checks based on the nature of the job. Some are described below.

Employment Verification: Job Applicants dread the fact that their prospective employers discuss with their previous employer their success rate, their behavior at work and salary details, etc. This is done not to discriminate them on the nature of their political affiliation, class, race or sex but simply to evaluate them. Most past employers are truthful.

Nature forming habits: Whatever the job, it is mandatory to screen all potential employees for drugs, alcohol and even smoking. Pass this test and the job offer is contingent.

Education Records: The details like degrees and certifications on the employee resume are verified. School records are usually not transparent and not relayed without prior authorization by the student. Occasionally, the school in confirming with the student releases information including name, address, activities, dates of attendance and degrees earned.

Motor Vehicles Records: These types of background checks are common in cases where the employee has to drive a vehicle as a regular part of their job. Criminal cases are checked and arrest records are assessed especially if they have resulted in conviction.

Credit Reports: If the job involves dealing with cash and cash receipts, bank accounts, money market accounts and financial transactions then the employee’s credit history will be screened. This can be acquired by a copy of FCRA, short for Fair Credit Reporting Act. This is solely for employment purposes and must be done with a great deal of discretion.

There are many companies engaged in background checking job applicants. Private companies provide investigators for the purpose. Online companies come forward in providing their services. But it is not an easy task. There are limitations and restrictions that come hand in hand. For example, a person may produce a perfect flawless record from a previous employer, but the FBI records may sing another story. There are cases where applicants with spotless behavior records have been booked for sexual offenses.

Employers need to exercise caution when doing background checks. Enquiries conducted by web based agencies and other companies may not be able to gauge accurate or up to date information. The rules vary according to the country, the nature of the crime, their subsequent punishments and the validity of the offense.

It is difficult to keep up with the slew of new laws that claim to protect privacy. Recently in California a new law was proposed that the individual who is being researched should be informed. If the search involves looking into one’s driver’s license or Social Security Number, then there are many restrictions on who can do the search. In, general, business institutions are less likely to meet with restrictions because lawmakers believe that companies are less likely to stalk individuals or commit identity theft which is quite rampant these days, especially for terrorist activities.

Criminal background checks are more complicated because of the law factor. Most restrictions are based on FCRA and EEOC requirements. Just because information can be acquired easily doesn’t mean that it is legal. Many states have laws for background checks that limit the information provided to employers to protect the job seekers. Companies cannot seek medical records and then discriminate on the basis of disability. A job seeker who has filed for bankruptcy should not be prevented from getting hired. A rejected job seeker should be notified of the reasons for his not being selected. The best way to go about seeking a job is to be honest on the job application so that when the company conducts the background check they find that the applicant is truthful.