Individual Background Check – What You Need to Know

Whether you’re an employer looking to vet job candidates or a landlord screening tenants, an Individual background check is a valuable tool. It checks the person’s identity, addresses, collections, credit, and employment history.


It also verifies professional credentials and academic records. These searches are often required for positions in the financial, insurance, real estate, and healthcare industries.

Employment History Verification

In a perfect world, job candidates would always provide truthful information on their resumes and other applications. However, the reality is that a significant percentage of people falsify information on their application or during the interview process. Unfortunately, this results in companies making bad hiring decisions that cost them time, money and reputation. This is why employment verifications are a standard part of most background checks.

Employment verifications verify the information provided by job applicants and employees, including past jobs and the dates of employment. They also reveal details such as how the individual left each position, why they were terminated or promoted and other key pieces of information. These searches can be conducted by human resources teams or by a consumer reporting agency (CRA) like Checkr to confirm an applicant’s work history.

In addition, an employment history verification can identify unfavorable trends or patterns. For example, it may show that an applicant is prone to lying about their education or experience. In the case of education, this is often done to cover up low GPAs or degrees that are not legitimate. In other cases, the lie may be to hide criminal convictions or gaps in employment. These insights can help a hiring manager determine if the individual is qualified for a role or should be screened further.

Credit History

While criminal history is a standard part of a background check, many candidates are also subject to a credit history verification during pre-employment vetting. Employers run these checks for positions that have significant financial responsibility, such as managerial jobs or roles where employees will be handling cash or expensive equipment. An applicant’s credit history reveals their level of personal responsibility and can help employers understand if they will be able to keep up with responsibilities and be honest about their financial past.

An employment credit background check is a modified version of a consumer credit report that contains information like credit-to-debt ratio, payment history, red flags such as debt in collections or bankruptcies, and more. These reports withhold a candidate’s birth year in order to prevent age discrimination.

A background check may also contain driving records, education and employment verification, civil records, healthcare sanctions, and more. Applicants are required to consent to a third-party company conducting these searches and receive a copy of the results.

Working with a third party background check company can save time and money for both parties. A third-party service can conduct the research on an individual’s behalf and provide comprehensive reports with results, identity verification and additional data. GoodHire’s process is customer and candidate-friendly and involves digital and mobile-optimized consent, ongoing updates, and easy access to all results.


Credentials are documents or proof of an accomplishment. They can be as simple as a driver’s license or as complex as a degree from a university. Credentials are a way of showing that you have the skills to do something, whether it’s work, school, or hobbies. They can also be things that prove you are allowed to do or go somewhere, such as a badge or a password.

Many background checks include verification of education. This helps employers verify that applicants did in fact attend a specific school, college, or university and obtained their listed degrees and diplomas. Considering that about 39% of job candidates lie on their resumes about their qualifications, this step can help you detect dishonesty and improve your hiring decisions.

Some background checks may also include a search of social media and other public records. While it’s important to be aware of the legal limitations around using this information in employment decisions, a check of social media can give you a glimpse at an applicant’s personality outside of work, which can be helpful for evaluating culture fit and workplace professionalism.

Regardless of what kind of background check you do, it’s always important to get consent from the person you are vetting before proceeding. You must also explain to them what you will be looking for and review the results with them before making a decision about hiring them or offering them a position.

Criminal History

An individual background check includes a complete criminal history record that details arrests, convictions and dispositions reported to the state by law enforcement agencies. A background check also typically searches public records for any information associated with the applicant, such as aliases and addresses.

If you have been convicted of a crime, the records show the verdict or outcome (such as “not guilty”) and any sentencing related to the charge. A search of criminal records also includes a list of any drug offenses committed by the person, including an abbreviation of the code section of the offence (such as H&S SS 11359, which means possession of marijuana).

Depending on your state law, you may be able to expunge or seal convictions that appear on your record. However, if you have not yet done so, convictions will still be visible to employers who conduct searches, and can negatively impact your job search.

A fingerprint-supported criminal history will include any arrests, prosecutions, cases and dispositions associated with the subject that are indexed in the FBI’s Interstate Identification Index (III). If you have an identical-sounding name to someone who has been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor, you will receive a WiUPIN letter that proves that the matched arrest records do not belong to you. Various states have restrictions on how far back a background check can look for criminal records, which may restrict the scope of results an employer will see.