What is a National Background Check?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A national background check is an investigation into a person's identity and past. Unlike local background checks, the national background check focuses on investigating details of a person's life throughout an entire country. Many employers perform national background checks on potential employees, especially those who will have to handle money or sensitive information. Some employers also perform national background checks on employees who have close, personal contact with people on a daily basis. For example, an employer may perform a national background check on a personal-care nurse or a nanny.

Aeronautical engineers who work for defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, which built the stealthy F-22 Raptor, must usually pass background checks.
Aeronautical engineers who work for defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, which built the stealthy F-22 Raptor, must usually pass background checks.

In most places, a person must obtain permission from the person he wants to investigate before performing a national background check. Many countries offer their citizens the right to a certain level of privacy. Performing these sorts of checks without permission violates these rights, and in some places, doing so is a crime. To perform such a check, the first step is often obtaining written permission from the person who will be investigated.

A national background check may include looking into a person's credit history.
A national background check may include looking into a person's credit history.

Part of a national background check is identity verification. For this, nation-wide databases are searched to confirm a person's identity using such things as his date of birth, Social Security number, and current and past addresses. This type of check may also uncover additional names a person uses. For example, a person may list his name as Frank Jones on an application but have an alias of Frank Johnson; a background check may uncover both the alias and information associated with it. Likewise, it may uncover whether or not a person has used a different social security number in the past, which may indicate fraud or some other type of criminal behavior.

National background checks uncover whether a person has criminal record.
National background checks uncover whether a person has criminal record.

This type of background check may uncover past addresses. This may be particularly helpful for property owners who are planning to rent out apartments or homes and want to be sure of whom they're renting to. National checks may also include marriage and divorce records, although some locations place restrictions on exactly what can be uncovered. A national check may also include verification of driver's licenses as well as information about the person's driving record.

A national background check typically includes searching a person's criminal records for charges of child abuse or abduction.
A national background check typically includes searching a person's criminal records for charges of child abuse or abduction.

Criminal court searches are often a big part of national background checks. These checks can uncover whether or not a person has ever been convicted of a serious crime. For example, a criminal record search may uncover whether a person has been convicted of a felony, listing both the charges and the person's sentence. This type of check may also look into child abuse records to discover whether the person has ever been convicted of abusing a child. Some national background checks may even look for sex crime records.

Marriage records may appear in a background check.
Marriage records may appear in a background check.

Sometimes a national background check will include financial information, such as property ownership records, vehicle registrations, bankruptcies, evictions, and civil litigation. It may also reveal any tax liens or judgments the person has against him. A background check that is done on a national basis may even uncover whether or not a person owns a ship or aircraft. In some cases, a person's credit history may be checked as well.

A parent may perform a national background check on a potential nanny.
A parent may perform a national background check on a potential nanny.

Depending on the purpose of the background check, it may include professional information. For example, it may reveal certain affiliations with corporations as well as partnership information. A professional search may also uncover whether or not the person has professional licenses. It may include information regarding the person's educational background and employment history as well.

A background check will reveal whether an individual has been charged with a felony, such as assault.
A background check will reveal whether an individual has been charged with a felony, such as assault.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

anon184050

can a national background check reveal federal background?

anon80576

can a national background check reveal your immigration status?

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