Use the Web to Do a Free Background Check

Get the Scoop on Someone You Know, or See What's out There on You

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B2M Productions/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Want to get information on someone you know, or see what's on the record for yourself? You can use the internet to do a free background check via a multitude of free sources.

Now, why would you want to do a background check on yourself? Here are a few reasons:

  • Check your credit report for inaccuracies
  • See if your insurance information is correct
  • Look at the same information that potential landlords look at
  • Take a look at your Social Security earnings

Basically, the data you can find online, on yourself or other people, can be quite useful. It's up to you to determine whether it's accurate—or to take steps to ensure that it is. A misrepresentation of your information can determine whether you're eligible to take out a mortgage, buy a car, or even get a job, so it's in your best interest to monitor this data and ensure that it's correct.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all of these background check resources were completely free as of this writing. A few of them must be completed offline and sent through the mail.

Financial History

Consumer Reporting History

  • LexisNexis: Request a free report that includes both public records and non-public records and information. You must include quite a bit of identifying information to get this report. Reports are requested offline through the mail.

Web Ownership History

  • Domain Tools Whois Lookup: Find out who owns a domain name, along with their email address, phone number, the physical address of the registrant, and the registrar information.
  • WayBack Machine: See what other forms a website might have taken with this interesting tool—just enter a URL and you'll get a detailed history of archived pages.
  • Domain Tools Reverse IP Lookup: If all you have to go on is an IP address, you can use this site to find out who owns the website. Use the Whois Record option for more details after the hostname is identified from the IP address.

Health and Medical Insurance Reporting History

  • MIB Reports: If you have "applied for individually underwritten life or health insurance in the last seven years", then MIB (Medical Information Bureau) will have a report on this information that you can request for free. You can complete the request online or by phone.

Return History

  • The Retail Equation: If you weren't able to get your money back the last time you returned something, you can request a free return history report from the Retail Equation, an organization that tracks merchandise return information.

Car and Home Insurance History

  • VinCheck: Enter a VIN (vehicle identification number) to see if a car has a history of being stolen or reported as stolen.
  • ISO Loss History Report: Order one free loss history report annually.

Checking and Investment History

  • ChexSystems: If you have been denied a checking or savings account from a bank or credit union, you can request a free copy of your ChexSystems consumer report to see what might be dinging you. This works online as well as through mail and fax.
  • TeleCheck: You have the right to order a free TeleCheck report that details your consumer information for free every 12 months.

Employment History

  • The Work Number: Can request one report annually; this report will contain income and employment information as well as lenders, credit agencies, or other reporting agencies that have received your data.
  • Request for Social Security Statement: Get a free record of your Social Security earnings history year by year, and get an estimate of how much you might qualify in the way of benefits in the future.