Background checks are a common part of life, whether you're applying for a job or buying a property. As seniors, It's important to know what a background check will find out about you, how it can possibly affect your life, and what to do if there are errors in your background check results.
Reasons Seniors Need To Know What's on Their Report
Knowing what shows up in your background check will help you make better financial decisions and prevent you from falling prey to scammers and identity theft.
As you get older, you're more likely to be targeted by scammers. You are seen as a part of the vulnerable population because you're often home during the day, which makes it easy for criminals to call and trick you into giving out your personal information. Scammers also know that they can get away with more money if they target you.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), scams can range from convincing you to wire money overseas or pay for a service with a gift card, to selling things that don't exist. But the scam that you would most likely fall victim to is when a scammer pretends to be a government official. It creates a sense of urgency because you don’t want to get into trouble with the government.
Preventing Identity Theft
Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your permission. As you grow older, your information becomes more valuable in the hands of criminals who want to steal it. This could lead to serious consequences like affecting your ability to apply for loans and credit cards, or even having your identity used for criminal purposes like filing fraudulent tax returns.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America and scams are prevalent because they're easy to pull off. It's up to you to make sure you're protected from these scams by doing a background check on yourself and being cautious when speaking to strangers about your finances.
Information You'll See in a Background Check
Through background checks, another person can find your personal information. It includes your name, current address, and your birthdate. Here’s the list of other information that you can see in a background check report:
Criminal records are considered public records and are accessible to anyone. Criminal records will include any information related to crimes. This includes arrests, charges, convictions, and other related information.
If you have an arrest or conviction on your record, it will show up in a background check report. The report will also include the date of the incident and any details about what happened. So if you're wondering what if charges are dismissed does it show up on a background check  report? The answer is possible because it could depend on how the charges were dismissed.
Vital records in most states are available to the public. Anyone can check if there are records available like a birth certificate, death certificate, marriage license, or divorce record. Scammers can use these records to verify that they are dealing with a real person
Court records are also widely available to the public. Anyone can check if you have any records in a court's database or a courthouse. Court records will include motions, briefs, pleadings, etc.
In some states, you'll need to create an account to access them, but in most states, you can search and view court records right away and for free.
As mentioned, the records above are all public records, meaning anyone can see them for free. However, your credit report is not a public record.
According to federal laws, you are allowed to get your credit report for free each year from the three major financial credit agencies The report will contain detailed information about your credit history, including whether you have any outstanding loans or debts, if there are any accounts that have been recently opened without your permission, and how much debt you currently carry. You can also see if you have a good or bad record with your creditors.
Ways Seniors Can Run Background Checks
There are various ways for you to do a background check on yourself:
Public Records Search
You can search public records, such as court documents, vital records, or criminal records. Most states would ask for an accomplished request form and you'll need to pay a fee in order to access the records.
If you choose this method, make sure that you have all the information needed beforehand, so that you can avoid any delays in getting your request back.
You can obtain credit reports through the Annual Credit Report. You'll need to fill out the form, choose one of the credit reporting agencies, send your request, and view the reports.
Free Background Checks
There are search tools online that allow you to get a free background check. Some will check not only public records but also include a background check on your social media accounts. If you're looking into getting your public records and want to get a social media background check, too, you can use this method.
3rd-Party Background Check Service Providers
There are many companies that will provide you with a background check for a fee. If you want to go this route, make sure that the company is legit and has been around for quite some time. You can look at their reviews online and see how satisfied their clients are with their service.
How To Dispute Inaccurate Records
When you've done all the research and background checks on yourself, you need to check that all the information in the results is accurate. If you find any inaccuracies, you have to dispute them immediately. You can contact the source where the information is from (for example, your local police department) and ask them to check their records again.
As you can see, it is important for you to be aware of your personal background check report. Although it can be intimidating to find out what’s on your record, it is good to know so that you can protect yourself from scams or identity theft. You should also take some time to make sure that what's listed in these reports is accurate.
 Central Source, LLC. (2022). Session Expired. Annual Credit Report.com. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action
 FBI. (2022, June 14). Elder Fraud. FBI. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/safety-resources/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/elder-fraud
 RecordsPage.org. (2022, October 17). Search Marriage & Divorce Records, Warrants, State Records Free. Records Page. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://recordspage.org
 Background Check Repair. (2022). Do Dismissed Charges Show Up on a Background
Check? Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://backgroundcheckrepair.org/do-dismissed-charges-show-up-on-a-background-check/