It’s 4pm on a Friday afternoon and as you begin thinking about the upcoming weekend plans you have begun mentally checking out early when you are brought back to reality by your ringing cell phone. It’s a potential client that is looking for a background check.
Doesn’t seem too complicated, right? Except that the client would like a “nationwide” background check. The client saw an advertisement for one of those online, and the cost was only $49. Yeah. This can be done.
Try to explain what an actual nationwide background check would actually consist of: 50 statewide criminal history searches (by the way, some states don’t make these available online). You mean there is no national database that we can just plug a name into and the details are returned in mere seconds? If only it were so simple.
Read the fine print on these websites (and have the client read them too!) Most of them conduct a search of the online Department of Corrections websites for an offender’s name. Obviously, this is in no way a true nationwide criminal history search. Offenders who don’t get placed into the state’s system (maybe they don’t serve jail time or get sentenced to probation) will not be found. Some states (Michigan for example) their disclaimer indicates that they purge the information from the database after three years. So a conviction 5 or 10 years ago may not come up in a search. Again, not a true nationwide search.
The true cost of an actual nationwide search would run pretty high (consider 50 states and let’s just say that the average cost is $10 each. That small fee brings the total to $500 before any mark up. On the other hand, consider the amount of time it would take to run an individual name in all 50 states and then put the information into a report. Again, this would prove to be extremely costly. This type of search is available to the general public and can certainly put a professional investigator in a quandary. What do you do if you take this phone call?