How to Run an Individual Background Check

If you’re applying for a job, it can be helpful to know precisely what employers will see when they run a background check. However, retrieving these criminal insights isn’t as simple as a Google search.


A proper individual background check requires the candidate’s consent and should include: identity verification, social security number verification, criminal record checks, county civil searches, global watchlists, education, and employment verifications.

Identity Verification

In order to run a background check, candidates must provide accurate identifying information, such as their date of birth and full name. However, errors — both intentional and accidental – can occur when this information is manually entered, resulting in inaccurate background checks. Identity verification is an important step in the background check process because it confirms that the person submitting their information is who they say they are.

In a world where millions of identities are stolen each year, it’s more important than ever for companies to be confident that the people who are applying for their jobs are who they say they are. By using digital identity verification technology, like Certn OneID, businesses can verify a candidate’s identity online and in real-time with just a photo of their government-issued ID and a selfie taken on a mobile device.

The technology behind OneID uses practices such as liveness detection for anti-spoofing to make sure that the individual really is who they say they are. This helps to prevent fraud and streamlines the background check process by eliminating the need for duplicate data entry. In addition, ShareAble for Hires will check the applicant’s name, address, and SSN against TransUnion’s databases to see if there are any fraud alerts or deceased person alerts associated with that name that could prevent the employer from hiring that person.

Social Security Number Verification

SSN verification, also known as Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) and Consent Based Search for Social Security Numbers (CBSV) is a real time service that checks whether an applicant’s name, date of birth and SSN directly match data in the Social Security Administration’s records. It searches SSA’s master file of Social Security numbers and reports a “yes” or “no” match as well as the SSN’s gender code, if available, and a death indicator if applicable.

The results of a SSN trace are valuable to screening analysts because they can reveal all names legally associated with an individual’s Social Security Number, including aliases, maiden names, anglicized names, nicknames and misspellings. This can help to uncover criminal history that a candidate would otherwise be able to hide with an alternate identity, such as if they were convicted of a crime while employed in another state but then legally changed their name and relocated before applying for your job.

However, because the Social Security Administration is constrained by privacy laws from releasing information about an individual’s Social Security number, this is not a replacement for other types of background checks that are conducted by credit bureaus and other private information sources. A SSN trace may also not be as reliable if the individual has moved a lot of times since their birth.

Criminal History Verification

If you’re hiring for a position that involves contact with the public or handling cash or sensitive financial data, criminal background checks reveal important information about applicants. This includes felony and misdemeanor convictions, legal infractions such as citations and fines and more.

A criminal background check is only as thorough as the sources it searches. A reputable background check provider like ShareAble for Hires will offer FCRA-regulated data and search all local, state and federal databases. These include Most Wanted lists, sex offender registries and criminal records from 43 states. We also provide international criminal records searches, which dive into criminal records from countries where your candidates have lived or worked.

Some employers believe that old charges don’t show up on criminal records searches, but this isn’t true in most cases. However, some arrests or citations that have been sealed or expunged from an individual’s record won’t be reported, so it’s vital to know what your background check will uncover before making a decision about hiring someone.

An employer can legally use the results of a criminal background check to make a hiring decision, but there are strict guidelines and laws about how that information can be used by CRAs and employers. For example, if a candidate shares their employment history with you in the form of a resume or cover letter and it turns out to be false, you could be liable for fraud or negligent hiring.

Past Employment Verification

In a background check, employers verify employment history, which includes an applicant’s past jobs, job titles, and dates of work. This information is important because it can reveal if an applicant has fabricated parts of their resume, which could be a red flag for dishonesty and lack of experience. A thorough background check can also uncover why a candidate left a previous job (although this is not always possible).

If an employer wants to verify employment information, the candidate must sign a release form in order for the company to contact their former employers. These forms must comply with all state and local “ban the box” laws, as well as federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

An employment verification can be completed in just one to three days. This allows for quicker hiring of new employees. It can be done at the same time as other checks, including identity verification, a criminal record check, education history, professional licenses, and more.

There are no regulations on how far back an employer can go when confirming employment. However, some states have laws limiting what an employer can request or disclose about an employee, so it’s important that companies are aware of those restrictions. For example, some states don’t allow companies to ask about salary information because it might discriminate against women and minorities.