A background investigation looks into the factual history of a person, entity or organization to determine the authenticity of their claims.
These types of investigations vary in scope and depth depending on the claim(s) needing verification. For example, an employment background check might seek information going back ten years or more, while a landlord might only want to know the recent rental history of a prospective renter. Background investigations can include physically accessing public records (gathering law enforcement reports and checking court filings, for example) for multiple jurisdictions and contacting former landlords, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Some contacts (like educational institutions or health providers) are prevented by law from disclosing any information without written consent. A competent background investigator will know when consent is required and can supply the materials needed to show written consent.
It is extremely common for background investigators to find omissions, falsifications and over exaggerations in the areas of:
- Education history and degrees,
- Professional licensing,
- Professional skills and accomplishments,
- Membership standing within a professional organization and
- Prior court actions
Background investigations should be a serious consideration for employers, landlords, investors, or anyone needing to make a decision based on the legitimacy of what they are being told.