What is Revealed on a Background Check?

Background checks are a common and popular tool used by businesses. Such inquiries typically contain some type of identity authentication, varying degrees of criminal record review, and a watch list check. The level of detail in a background search based on how much one is willing to pay for the service, with costs ranging from the basic $19.95 online scan to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a background investigation similar to the ones performed by the FBI.

Basic Online Background Checks

When someone performs a background review on an individual, the prevailing assumption is that past criminal activity and behavior patterns are indicative of that person’s character. The online background check is usually sufficient for identifying the person and revealing any glaring red flags including felonies, serious jail time, or whether a person is on any terror watchlists or is a registered sex offender. They can also be used to verify employment history and education.

While this level of scrutiny is unlikely to uncover that you stole the neighbor’s pumpkins from their porch when you were 10, it is more than sufficient to reveal the general trustworthiness of an individual.

FBI Style Background Checks

The other side of the background investigation coin is the FBI investigation. This in-depth review of a person scrutinizes at an extremely granular level from birth to the present time. Every activity is under a microscope.

At this level, not much, if anything, would remain secret. Because the investigation is time-consuming and intense, it is typically reserved for those in high ranking political positions or intense legal cases where the outcome would impact many people.

What a Private Investigator Can Uncover

In between these two extremes sits the P.I. A private investigator can uncover more detailed information than an online background check about a person’s behavior, connections, history, finances, and social media activity.

These revelations can expose deceit and paint a bigger picture of an individual than they would typically reveal to help the client make an informed decision. In general, a private investigator may be hired to investigate:

  • Star witnesses and subject matter experts in a high-stakes legal battle
  • Suspicions of fraud, deceit, embezzlement, or other bad faith activities of high-level executives at a business
  • CEOs & other incoming high-level individuals for businesses wanting to be sure they are making the right decision
  • The associations and activities for individuals suspected of insurance fraud
  • Competitors business practices when deception or foul play is suspected
  • Potential acquisitions to ensure everything is above-board

Can a private investigator reveal every tiny detail of a person’s life? Maybe – but most likely not without friends in the FBI and a considerable amount of money. Exhaustive personal history reviews take a lot of time and effort, which is why they are reserved for the most high profile situations.