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Criminal background check vs. regular background check: What's the difference?

Criminal background check vs. regular background check: What's the difference?
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If you're looking to run a check on someone, you have a number of options. We recommend signing up for one of the best background check (opens in new tab) services, as you want a reliable search, done by professionals, and a thorough report at the end of it. Regardless of whether you're doing a regular search, or a criminal background check, you want as much information as possible. Often there is little real different between the two search-types: regular background checks will often include criminal record information, so in some instances you won't even need to specify between the two.

However, specialized criminal background checks can be more thorough in some instances because they are specifically oriented towards criminal records databases. If you want a general overview of a person's background, including information on marriages, divorce, bankruptcies and similar topics, a regular background check will probably provide all the information you need. But if you are specifically concerned about a person's criminal past it may be a good idea to perform a criminal background search.

We would absolutely recommend a specialized criminal record check, if you are looking to hire or influence the life of the person you are researching. This isn't necessarily to protect you, but to make sure that you have as much information around the person's criminal records as possible, to avoid any misunderstandings. An incomplete criminal record search could also miss convictions and minor offences, so you need to get as many facts as possible from your search. General BG checks give some information, but may miss important facts.

Criminal background check vs. regular background check: What's the difference?

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
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If you're looking for a thorough background check service that offers both regular and criminal checks, we recommend Intelius, especially because its reports are very thorough and easy to read.

Most criminal background checks will include a person's name, known aliases, description (including tattoos and other identifying marks) arrests, convictions and prison terms. Some may even include information on outstanding warrants. This information commonly comes from court records, police records and other similar sources. Some of the more thorough criminal background checks may include any available information about international warrants and arrests too.

It is important to note that some states prevent criminal background checks from displaying certain information about criminal records. For instance, California only allows records to show convictions, not arrests. Other states' policies vary, so try to find out what you can expect based on where you are conducting your search and where your criminal search subject has lived.

In addition to criminal background checks, many sites also offer nanny background checks, employee background checks and general people search services (opens in new tab), which are specifically tailored to certain types of people. These checks can also contain information about criminal history, since it is important to know if a potential online date has a history of violent crime or domestic abuse.

These, then, are the main differences, and should help you choose what you need. A regular background check will help reveal enough information about a person to give you a general overview. If you're looking to bring a new person into your home or small business, you may need a more thorough criminal record check, just to be safe. If you are in any way unsure of the information you get back, you should consider talking to a legal or law enforcement professional to work out how to resolve any doubts you may have about the person you researched. 

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