There could be false information about you online or in your credit history. Maybe there is an embarrassing comment or picture floating around the internet that you don’t care for. The next time you apply for a job, an apartment, or a loan, these are things that can surface and hurt your chances.

The good news is that you can take steps to remove or correct any false data. This is why you’d want to run a background check on yourself using a people finder like Check People. An upcoming interview is a good reason to deal with damaging information, as is a date with someone you just met.

How to Self-Check

There are many ways to go about running a background check. Many of them are free. For instance, courts make most of the information they have on file public. To find it, you can visit the website of the National Center for State Courts or your state’s official government website. Take care to search every state you’ve lived in. You might want to search city and county records as well.

To see what kind of financial information someone else would see if they ran a check on you, you can order a free copy of your credit report. These are available from the three main credit bureaus – Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax. Don’t assume just anyone can see your credit report, though. Usually, you can’t pull a credit report without a person’s written permission and without a legitimate reason.

To conduct a screening, hiring a professional service is the simplest option. However, be careful as there are many scam companies around. We recommend looking around to find out how much you can expect to pay for a background check and avoid really cheap and really expensive companies.

You might even find some free options to work well for you as long as you have some time on your hands. You might discover things about your habits or character that an agency wouldn’t consider.

Popular Search Options

Sites like White Pages Neighbors and the National Sex Offender Public Website are popular choices for self-checks and checking other people. These sites comb Facebook, Google, and other social media and search engines to reveal details someone has shared willingly.

If you’re only looking for a few specific pieces of information, seeing what’s available in the local courthouse or what’s available online might be worth your time. However, online screening services can really shine because they pull all available data online, which could take you months to achieve. These services are really good at gathering specific data as well. They can create a detailed report quickly and easily. Then, you can get any irrelevant or false information corrected or removed. It’s a good idea to do this well in advance of a loan, job, or housing interview.

The relatively low fees charged by background check service providers are worth the information received and the sheer effort and time you save.

Things to Know When Others are Running a Check on You

If an employer or landlord performs a background check or is being done for insurance, credit, or medical reasons, not just any service will do. This person has to use a CRA (consumer reporting agency) under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. A CRA has to offer dispute resolution and maintain certain data protection standards. If a landlord or employer rejects you based on a screening from a non-CRA entity, you can make problems for them.

Benefits of a Simple Google Search

A Google search can reveal very interesting things, including past evictions or arrests that didn’t result in charges or a conviction. In most states, this information can’t be used against you.

Improving Your Prospects

The more you know about what people can find online, the more careful you’ll be going forward. If you have a common name, a person looking you up might mistake you for someone else. Then, the situation will be awkward for you both. If you’re confronted with damaging findings, know they’re not necessarily relevant.