Have you been the victim of a background check? Background checks are big business on the internet. And the internet has definitely made conducting a background check easier than ever. One might also suggest that the internet has made it easier than ever for anyone conducting a background check to discover something in your past you might not want found out. Like drunk driving or high school bullying. So if you are ever thinking of running for President you’d better…oh, wait.
Well, if you are not a privileged bad boy who doesn’t have to answer to anything you may have done in your past, you need to be aware of the prominence of background checks by keeping in mind that today’s background checks are not necessarily criminal background checks. The easy availability and lack of outrageous expense means that companies looking into your background for criminal behavior need not necessarily be corporate in nature. A mom and pop operation looking to hire a part time has access to the kind of investigation into your criminal past that used to be the domain of those types of companies that a privilege drunkard might run into the ground or a privileged bully might run out of business in order to take a profit for himself.
So what kind of stuff in your past can come back to haunt you in a criminal background check? Look, if you’ve got an arrest on your record for beating up your spouse, molesting a child or breaking and entering, the consequences of not getting a good job may be the last thing you need to worry about. The criminal part of this background check can delve into things you may not suspect are likely to come back and bite you in the butt. For instance, if you were expelled from school for cheating or tossed out of a college class for plagiarism, it could very well be on a background check. Were you in the military? Hey, Spent some time in the drunk tank when you got a little overintoxicated during that stayover in San Diego? Could be on the background check, Otis!
It gets worse. Remember that time you got in a cold war with your next door neighbor and you dumped the contents of your garbage over the fence? Some background checks can actually include interviews with disgruntled neighbors. Or that teacher you used to royally piss off on a daily basis. Or that co-worker whose expensive bottled water you used to occasionally pinch from the break room fridge. Or, heaven forfend, that boss whose wife you groped at the Christmas party.
As far as the criminal element of a background check goes, pretty much court record not official sealed is fair game. That could mean anything from a speeding ticket to an unpaid parking ticket to that lark when you tried to shoplift a $20 bracelet. That $20 could wind up costing you half a million dollars over the long term.
Now for the good news. Those forensic science shows are not the only crime dramas full of crap. Just as it is a myth that no two fingerprints are exactly alike, so it is a myth that there is this gigantic beast of a database containing all this information about you. That information about your refusal to clean up a disgusting backyard may well be available and accessible, but that doesn’t mean that a background checker doesn’t work hard to get it.