There are four big secrets background check companies don’t want you to know.

1. They are not magical.

Background check companies pull from public records, and those public records depend on databases.  If the database is not up to date because an individual hasn’t lived in an address for a certain period of time, that information is not going to show up.

2. Overemphasizing importance of Criminal Checks

Criminal Check One of the things background checks look are criminal records.  The problem with doing a background check solely for criminal records is that criminal records are only good if the person has been caught. More importantly, not every single state reports up to a national criminal database. Colorado, for example, is one of those states and does not report to the national database. Local agencies within certain states don’t even report up to the state level. As such you would have to go to every city a person lived in in order to get a full criminal record, and that is a service most background check companies don’t provide

Some states, such as California, won’t let you know if somebody has an arrest on their record, only convictions. Sometimes a person may not be convicted of something, but if they have a steady pattern of getting arrested for it or being called into court for a certain thing, and they continually are not convicted for that charge, then we start to see a potential pattern. As a business owner, that would be a red flag. In addition, background checks don’t screen for frauds or scams. Since there is no assessment of information provided in a background check, the only time a fraud or scam is going to show up is if a person has been taken to court for it.

3. They don’t tell you anything about a person.

Background checks don’t tell you anything about a person. They just tell you where they’ve lived and their criminal history, but it doesn’t say anything about their aptitude. So if you are doing a background check for somebody’s business—a service provider or a partner—a background check is not going to tell you anything about their skillset, their experience, or their history of how long they’ve been doing their business.

4. False sense of security

Business owners have been sold on the idea that a background check is enough for conducting due diligence and will provide all of the information they need on a person to make a decision.  Background checks provide a false sense of security.  Let’s say you do pull a check on somebody, and it comes back negative. Now you think they don’t have a criminal record. It is a terrible idea to go into any kind of business arrangement thinking you know something about that person and all you did was pull a background check.  Doing such actually causes more harm to your business. and puts your business at more risk than had you not done anything in the first place. At least if you don’t do anything, you know that you didn’t do anything.

Background checks are part of the process, but they’re not the entire process. If it’s going to cost you time or money, you need to be able to assess for patterns of risk. Bottom line, you need to do more than just a background check to make an educated decision for your business.