What does a Background Investigator do?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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A background investigator is a person who seeks to find information about other people, typically by looking into their past. One may be used when an employer is considering a number of candidates for a very important job. Politicians may use a background investigator when they are considering making an appointment to ensure there is nothing surprising in the person's past that could doom the nomination. The background investigator looks at criminal history, job history, and in some cases may even look at credit history.

The main job of a background investigator is simply to determine what the past of the individual is like. If the person has applied for a job, it may be simply a matter of verifying information already provided. In the case where information is not provided, the job may be much harder, because the investigator may need to create his or her own leads. This process can take a great deal of time, and lead to multiple dead ends.

In most cases, the job of a background investigator simply involves looking over paperwork and public records. It just becomes a matter of knowing where to find those records so that he or she can do the job quickly and efficiently. This is especially true for records such as those relating to criminal or civil court proceedings.


In the case of a credit check, the background investigator may be charged with pulling information from credit reporting agencies. To pull a credit report, the investigator needs permission from the individual in question. Credit reports are typically not subject to public records request because they are the reports of private individuals. Further, the agencies providing the reports are often not part of a government agency. The background investigator will need a signed form, or some sort of legally binding consent.

This type of investigator will not only evaluate different types of paperwork, but may also conduct interviews as well. These interviews focus on finding people who know the person being investigated, and asking questions about the individual's history. This may be a frustrating part of the job because it may take a while to find people willing to talk, especially if they perceive the situation can be negative. Therefore, the investigator needs to be personable and may even take the time to build a deeper relationship with the source.

Once the background investigator gathers all the necessary information, he or she will report back to the person who hired him or her. This report should include all the relevant information related to the situation, and may be presented orally, in written form, or both ways. If information cannot be verified, then that may be a point to bring up with the person who is the subject of the investigation. The investigator will often offer an explanation detailing why the information could not be confirmed.


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