Why Run a Background Check on Myself? 3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Look Into Your Past

Background checks are a virtually unavoidable part of modern life. Whenever you apply for a new job or start looking at new apartments to move into, it’s a safe bet there’s going to be a background check in your near future. These checks will likely involve pulling your criminal record, including arrests and mugshots. They may also include other information that’s on the public record, such as your addresses and known aliases.

You may also undergo a background check when applying to certain colleges, and lenders will generally check your credit report before approving you for a loan. If you’re an aspiring homeowner, background checks are essentially mortgage 101, including knowing the difference between a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage, down payment, interest rates, and loan types. Mortgage lenders are less interested in criminal history and more interested in employment history, income sources, and any other factors that could impact your mortgage rates and eligibility.

Since background checks are so common, you may decide it’s a good idea to run one on yourself. You may be curious as to what others might find out, and luckily you can run your own background check free of charge. Here are just a few reasons why that instinct is exactly right.

Correcting Inaccurate Information

Like all human-operated systems, background checks aren’t perfect, and performing a free background check on yourself gives you a great opportunity to make sure all displayed information is correct or to take notes of any existing mistakes. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles you to a free credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). These reports will include things like your credit score, where you live, whether you’ve ever been sued, or if you’ve ever filed for bankruptcy. Obviously, this information can have a big impact on your life, so you’ll want to make sure it’s all correct. To dispute information you believe to be inaccurate, you’ll need to notify both the credit reporting company and the provider of the information in writing.

You can also use free background checks to assess your criminal record, if applicable. Any mistakes there could have other unintended consequences, so you’ll need to notify the state as soon as possible if you find any. You can also check your record to ensure expunged information was actually removed.

Finding Money

Who wouldn’t want to be told that they were owed a large sum of money that they didn’t know about? Well, that’s entirely possible in cases of unclaimed money. Put simply, unclaimed money is held by a state’s treasury when the rightful owner can’t be found. This can be due to a variety of reasons with the most common being that the owner moved states without updating their address. Unclaimed money could be from final paychecks, pensions, or estates of the deceased, just to name a few.

Performing a quick background check on yourself could be all it takes to find out there are unclaimed funds out there with your name on them. You can also search for funds through your state’s unclaimed property office or other state databases. Remember, it’s not possible for anyone to contact you about unclaimed funds, so you’ll need to hunt them down yourself.

Staying Prepared

Knowing what others can find out about you through a background check gives you the simple benefit of being able to anticipate questions and potential problems. If you have criminal history that you feel may jeopardize a job opportunity, you can prepare an explanation or other materials in advance to show the employer that you’re still right for the job. If you’ve had bad credit history, you may be able to demonstrate the steps you’ve taken to improve your credit and show that you’re a responsible buyer. Seeing what others know about you ahead of time can save you from unpleasant surprises.

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