How to Do a Free Background Check

Get the scoop on someone or see what's out there about you

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 sources.

What Is a Background Check?

A background check is simply a report on someone. There are various tools that are built specifically for finding public information on people, and you can use them for a variety of reasons.

Audit illustration with papers, magnifying glass, and pens

You might run a background check on a potential employee to see if their work history story is accurate, or on someone who's thinking about renting a property from you. You can even get background information on yourself for free to see if your data is accurate.

What a Free Background Check Gets You

Before getting started, please know that most of these free background check resources require so much personal information that it's unlikely you can run one on someone else. However, there are other services that are great for those types of background checks.

For example, if you want to learn whether someone has a criminal record, see where they used to work or live, check their education history, etc., a people search engine is a better bet.

However, if you're doing the background check on yourself, the links below are great for all sorts of things:

  • 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

The data you can find online, on yourself or other people, can be quite useful, but 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.

Unless otherwise noted, all of these background check resources are completely free. A few of them must be completed offline and sent through the mail.

Financial Background Check

Consumer Reporting History

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

Web Ownership History

Health and Medical Insurance Reporting History

  • MIB Reports: If you've "applied for individually underwritten life or health insurance in the last seven years", 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

Checking and Investment History

  • ChexSystems: If you've 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 a 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.

Other Background Check Sites

  • Better Future: Verify someone's social security number and confirm where they've lived, whether they're a registered sex offender, if they're wanted globally for a crime, and if they have any local criminal charges. This free background check uses Checkr.
  • Facebook and LinkedIn are two examples of social media sites that can be used to run a background check on someone without needing a credit card. You can find everything from their work and school history to past and current addresses, associates, etc.