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What Does A Background Check Show? Use These Services To Find Out

A background check is a tool commonly used to verify whether an individual is who they claim to be.

There are various background screenings – including criminal background checks, employment background checks, education verifications, fingerprint background checks, and more.

Each type can reveal different pieces of information pertinent to that check that provides an opportunity to confirm the validity of someone’s criminal records, credit history, employment, education, driving records, and even divorce records. Though, most screenings can uncover details that are considered highly sensitive and highly personal.

It’s essential to understand what details are included in each type of background check and how that information can be obtained and used. Luckily, there are quite a few federal and local regulations in place that will protect your privacy.

In the article below, we cover the scope of each search and the best sites to get a background check. If you’re curious about what a self background check might reveal you could use these services as well.

Best Background Check Sites

SiteBest For
TruthFinderSensitive info
Instant CheckmateInstant background checks
InteliusReverse phone lookup, background checks, etc.
SpokeoCriminal récords, addresses
Been VerifiedPeople search services, criminal background



Truthfinder is a trusted background check service for employment screening. The site provides accurate and up-to-date information, and the reports are beneficial to users.

Their background checks include:

  • Name
  • Birthdate
  • Criminal and arrest records
  • Civil court records
  • Employment history and education background
  • Social media accounts
  • Financial assets, liens, and bankruptcies
  • Etc.

Instant Checkmate


Instant CheckMate is an excellent site for pre-employment screening or education verification. The service searches through public records, online databases, and other varying resources to uncover the truth regarding a person’s past.

Their background checks may include:

  • Name and date of birth
  • Contact info
  • Location history
  • Traffic, criminal, or arrest records
  • Financial info
  • And more



Intelius is another popular option to check someone’s criminal history, address history, etc. The service is affordable and provides customers with valuable information such as:

  • Criminal records
  • Marriage and divorce history
  • Previous or ongoing lawsuits
  • Bankruptcies and liens
  • And more



Spokeo is another reliable choice. The website provides quality reports with updated information. Their reports may include:

  • Phone numbers
  • Addresses
  • Age
  • Employment information
  • Social media account
  • Criminal and traffic records
  • Possible relatives
  • And more

Been Verified


BeenVerified performs quality background checks using public information. Their background checks are accurate and dive deep into the details. Reports include:

  • Court records and litigation history
  • Civil and criminal records
  • Bankruptcy proceedings
  • Education background
  • And more



PeopleFinders provides the information needed to understand what’s going on with job applicants. Their reports include:

  • Criminal history
  • Contact information
  • Bankruptcy history
  • Property records information
  • And more

What information shows up in criminal background checks?

A criminal background check will look extensively for any kind of criminal record. It could reveal:

  • Felony or misdemeanor criminal records
  • Pending criminal cases or arrests
  • Detailed criminal reports of incarceration
  • And more

For the most part, all different types of background checks will include a criminal history screening. The screening service will sort through public databases and other resources to search for criminal convictions at the federal, state, and local levels through a process known as multi-jurisdictional criminal background checks – as these searches pull from massive databases of criminal records.

There is no central online database that holds these criminal reports. Many companies build proprietary methods to quickly perform a criminal background check and uncover someone’s criminal history across multiple jurisdictions, which allows for millions of criminal convictions to be found – including cases filed at the county level, reports in state repositories, as well as federal criminal history reports filed with U.S. District Courts.

What information shows up on pre-employment background checks?

Most employers find it necessary to verify the identity of possible candidates as it relates to the information provided on their job applications. It is common for job applicants to embellish their employment history to make it seem more impressive, which could mean changing a job title, altering the employment dates, or adding responsibilities outside the role’s scope.

That’s why potential employers do their due diligence to confirm the validity of the candidate and their resume with various employment verification processes that may involve reference checks, contacting the HR department of the person’s past employment organization, or getting a comprehensive employment background check. All of these methods help to verify the accuracy of the information provided during the interview process.

Specifically, pre-employment screenings and background checks are used to confirm an individual’s criminal background and their previous employers, education history, professional licenses, certifications, and employment history more broadly during the hiring process.

A potential employer may also pull motor vehicle records and other information about the job’s nature. Furthermore, applicants may be required to submit to drug testing as a part of the pre-employment screening. For example, a drug screening is generally a prerequisite for jobs that entail caring for the safety of the public, customers, or coworkers.

Federal and state restrictions for pre-employment background checks

The Fair Credit Reporting Act sets out various privacy-protection regulations and limits. The FCRA rules apply when employers and similar institutions use a consumer reporting agency to find information on potential candidates. It is highly regarded by law enforcement agencies and largely dictates what can be reported on employment background checks.

For instance – if an applicant is under consideration for a job that pays less than $75,000 per year, any information on civil judgments, government sanctions, or disciplinary measures for professional licenses cannot appear in employment background check results.

If the salary for the job is more than $75,000, however, those details may appear in the pre-employment screening results, and it is true even if the information is several years old.

For the most part, employment verifications will focus on details that can be quickly confirmed – such as job title, roles and responsibilities, and other general information on past employment.

What does a fingerprint background check include?

A fingerprint background check is another popular type of background check. Generally, fingerprinting will not provide the same level of in-depth information as a pre-employment background check or criminal background check.

It’s a way to match a person to a criminal record. For example, police officers will fingerprint suspects after an arrest to confirm whether a crime record matches fingerprint data.

However, fingerprint background checks are not universally used because not all crime records require fingerprint data.

Typically, this type of screening will pull from the FBI database of criminal records and other, smaller automated identification systems.

Using the individual’s name, birth date, or social security number will usually provide more accurate and detailed reporting. All records associated with the person can show up on these types of background checks.

What does a Level 2 background check show?

A Level 2 background check is a specific type of fingerprint background check performed during the hiring process.

It’s usually conducted for candidates working with vulnerable people – including children, someone with a disability, seniors, etc. – if hired for the job. They are also required for adults that are interested in adoption or fostering. Even volunteer positions in schools, daycares, and senior citizen centers may need to pass a Level 2 background check.

Generally, this type of employment screening will sort through various databases – including the sex offender registry – for convictions, arrests, violent behavior, and other crimes against susceptible individuals. Some will go a step further and check for traffic violations, work history, previous addresses, and more.

However, what’s obtained in a Level 2 background check largely depends on the provider and location. For example – in Florida, background checks either fall into the Level 1 or Level 2 categories.

Level 1 background checks are less involved, while Level 2 background checks provide much more detailed information. Here’s a better look at what each level includes:

  • Level 1 Background Checks: state crime records searches, sex offender registry checks, past employment screenings, and further criminal searches at the county level.
  • Level 2 Background Checks: everything mentioned above, plus fingerprint checks with Florida Department of Law Enforcement records and FBI databases at the national level.

Frequently Asked Questions For Background Checks

How far back can a background check go?

The information pulled in a background check will depend on the state. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits the amount and type of information a credit bureau can report, which primarily pertains to consumer data on credit reports – such as bankruptcy cases, tax liens, and other details on a credit history report.

The standard timeline for a criminal background check is that it can go back seven years. However, federal law does not detail the timing and how far back a background check can go. Most states decide on this subject matter on their own.

Do traffic tickets show on a criminal background check?

For more info on someone’s driving history, motor vehicle records will need to be obtained. Whether or not this information is pulled varies based on the different types of background checks.

For a criminal background check, specifically, traffic violations are usually not included. These kinds of tickets are civil citations. They are not considered to the level of misdemeanors or felonies.

Do DWI/DUI offenses show up on a background check?

Some driving offenses rise to the level of a misdemeanor or felony due to reckless driving, DWIs, and DUIs.

  • Reckless driving or careless driving: most states have laws that address when someone is dangerous driving willingly. Acts generally considered “reckless” include: driving more than 25 MPH over the speed limit, racing another vehicle, eluding a police officer, etc.
  • DWI (driving while intoxicated): this term is mainly used for cases specifically related to driving impaired by alcohol.
  • DUI (driving under the influence): this is a broader term used for cases where the driver is impaired by alcohol and other mind-altering substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and even some prescription drugs.

These types of driving offenses are filed as criminal convictions and can result in severe penalties like incarceration. They will show up on a criminal background screening.

Do arrests show up on a background check?

Again, this will mainly depend on the state. Some states have laws that prohibit employers and other organizations from obtaining arrest records and using them for hiring-related decisions because arrest records do not provide proof of guilt. They are often viewed as an unfair roadblock to employment. Many backgrounds check companies will not include arrests for compliance issues.

Do warrants show up on a background check?

Once a warrant has been carried through, it is automatically added to the person’s criminal record. This information will therefore show up in employment background checks.

Outstanding arrest warrants and bench warrants, however, typically do not appear in background check reports.

  • Outstanding arrest warrants: this is a valid arrest warrant issued days, months, or even years ago but has not been fulfilled yet.
  • Bench warrants: a type of arrest warrant issued when a subject fails to appear for a required court appearance.

Do dismissed charges show up on a pre-employment background check?

Dismissed cases can appear on a background screening since criminal charges stay on a person’s record even if those charges are eventually dropped, dismissed, or end in a not-guilty verdict.

Hopefully, the person getting the background check will recognize the difference between a formal conviction and a not thoroughly carried out charge. A conviction, for instance, provides proof of guilt. A dismissed charge, however, only shows that the individual was suspected or accused of a crime. But – for whatever reason – they were never proven guilty.

Do restraining orders show up on a background check?

A restraining order, also referred to as order protection, is defined as a civil matter which implies it shouldn’t show up in a background check unless part of a broader arrest or court case. For example, restraining orders are sometimes included as a footnote in the sentencing section of a criminal charge.

With that being said, it may still appear in some public information resources and websites, thus implying that restraining orders may wind up on a background check report regardless of whether a criminal case was executed.

Do bankruptcies show up on a background check?

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), bankruptcies filings cannot be reported in any background check process or pre-employment screenings once they are over 10 years old.

Bankruptcies that were filed more than 10 years ago may appear in non-FCRA compliant background checks. They are considered a matter of public record, meaning these fillings are relatively easy to discover.

Do expunge or sealed records show up on a background check?

For the most part, sealed cases are not qualified for disclosure in pre-employment screenings. These cases are usually closed to the public once a court expunges a trial or conviction record. Additionally, the defendant or convicted party is not required to disclose any information on the case when asked about it expressly or their criminal history more generally.

What Does A Background Check Show? Key Takeaways

The details provided in a background check report often varies depending on the nature of the screening and the state to which it is conducted.

If you conduct a background check, it’s vital to ensure that it complies with all federal, state, and county-level regulations. If you are interested to see what shows up on your background check, we hope this article has helped you gain further insight!

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