Individual Background Check – Important Steps in the Background Check Process

Individual background checks provide insights into criminal records, credit reports, and address history. This information can help employers verify candidates’ identities and backgrounds, including past employment, trade certifications and education.


However, you must understand and follow federal and state laws while conducting a background check. Here’s how.

Identity Verification

A person’s identity is the basis for all their interactions with other people, including online purchases, bank accounts, credit cards, and more. But if that identity is stolen or fake, it can result in serious consequences for businesses and individuals alike. That’s why identity verification is a crucial component of anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) efforts.

Digital identity verification methods verify the data presented by a person and ensure that it is associated with a genuine, real person by comparing something that the user has—usually a selfie or series of selfies—with verified information set like government-issued ID documents or biometric data from a mobile device. These verification services can be used for remote registration, onboarding, and to help businesses comply with KYC and AML regulations.

The type of identity verification method required by a business will vary, depending on its needs and the industry it operates in. For example, financial institutions often need to use facial recognition and other biometric verification solutions to protect against identity fraud and money laundering. Other industries require identity checks to meet strict compliance requirements and build trust with customers.

With a flexible identity verification solution, businesses can customize the process to align with their branding, user interface and specific industry compliance regulations. Fully-Verified’s digital identity verification solutions allow businesses to use a range of methods, such as face recognition and biometrics, and can compare the identity information presented by a person with a list of known databases and watchlists.

Social Security Verification

The nine digits of one’s Social Security number are more than just a random collection of numbers; they serve as a key to a person’s identity and history. It is therefore no surprise that people use this information to commit crimes.

In order to ensure a background check is performed on the correct person, an SSN Trace is often the first step in the process. This search reveals the names and addresses associated with an SSN and can uncover discrepancies in dates of birth or in the name reported by the applicant. It also helps to identify counties and states that should be searched for additional records.

Form SSA-89, commonly known as an SSN Trace, is a form that authorizes a third party to verify your Social Security Number with the SSA. This third party is typically a mortgage lender or a company conducting a background or credit check. Once the SSA has verified your SSN, the agency will deliver the information to the third party you have listed on the form.

If a person’s SSN does not match their employment records, employers should document their efforts to resolve the issue rather than simply firing them. This is because it is illegal to take adverse action against workers based on the failure of a SSN verification to match their employment records.

Address Verification

Address verification is a key step in the background screening process. It ensures that the person being hired is a genuine employee or customer, and prevents fraud by verifying that the address on official identification documents matches the actual address of the individual. This is a vital step for companies such as banks and payment processors, which rely on accurate data to reduce instances of chargebacks and fraud, while maintaining compliance with regulations.

In addition to identifying potential criminal records, address verification can help identify past addresses on job applications and other forms that may reveal patterns of behavior or risk factors. These searches can also be conducted for other purposes, such as to verify the accuracy of an applicant’s driver’s license or occupational licensing credentials. They can also be used to determine whether a person is on federal or state sanction or exclusion lists, including child or elder abuse registries; terrorist watch lists; the Office of Foreign Asset Control list; and FINRA broker checks.

The most accurate way to verify an address is by physically visiting the location and confirming that it is a valid residence. However, this is not always possible, especially when it comes to online transactions or e-commerce platforms. In these cases, address verification involves cross-referencing the user-inputted address with an authoritative database to determine its accuracy and completeness. This can be done using a variety of methods, including checking official ID proofs like passports and drivers’ licenses; contacting previous landlords or employers; and conducting a credit report search.

Criminal Record Verification

Criminal record verification is a critical step in the background check process that searches public records at the county, state and federal level for convictions. It also reveals pending charges and arrests. This screening often includes searches of national and international sex offender registries and terrorist watchlists, such as the INTERPOL Most Wanted, European terrorism list and Office of Foreign Assets Control No Fly list.

The type of records searched will vary by jurisdiction. Some states limit how far back criminal records can go, while others do not. Depending on the results of this screening, some employers may decide to exclude candidates from consideration for certain positions, particularly those that require direct contact with customers or handling cash or sensitive financial data.

A consumer reporting agency (CRA) will use the personal identifying information from an applicant, such as their name, date of birth and Social Security Number to search public records at the county, state and national level for criminal convictions and pending cases. A CRA will also search an individual’s address history, using both public and proprietary records to identify potential addresses and aliases.

Performing background checks on job applicants is vital to maintaining a safe workplace for employees and customers alike. A single bad hire can cost a company more than $50,000, according to CareerBuilder research.