How to Run Background Checks on Yourself – For Free

background check

Most people look in a mirror before they go outside (unless you’re a teenage boy – I love you, son!). Why? Because they want to know how they look to others, and they want to control what image they convey. So why not do the same for your background information?

A recent Lifehacker article reminded me about how often companies use background checks. The information on these reports can affect your loan interest rates, your employment, and where you get your cell phone service. (Check out the article for more detail about the why’s and how’s of running different types of background checks.)

As a divorced or widowed woman, you may be looking for new housing, a new job, or applying for credit. How can you make sure the first impression you give is the right one?

Take Credit

In today’s society, your credit report can open (or close) many doors. Lending companies use them to decide if you can repay a loan. Landlords want to know if they’ll get their rent. Your credit score even influences how much you pay for some types of insurance.

Get a free copy of your credit report every year. Review it to ensure everything is correct, because mistakes happen!

The first time I checked my credit report, I found a couple of accounts opened by my father. Granted, he was Elliott H. Weir Jr. and I am Elliott H. Weir III so it’s a little more understandable but still!

Besides, you’d think that a store credit card opened before I was born would raise a flag but (back then at least) it didn’t.

Get a free copy from all three of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) at www.annualcreditreport.com. This site does not require you to sign up for ongoing credit monitoring or other expensive services.

Get the Job Done

When applying for a job, one form you may be asked to sign authorizes the employer to run a background check. This could include your work history, criminal record, professional licenses, and more.

Ask which company they use for background checks – most don’t prepare reports unless an employer pays for one. Many of the companies will provide you with a free copy via their website.

Handling Rejection

The first time you learn about incorrect or adverse information on your report may be when you receive a rejection notice. The notice should tell you which company provided your information to them. Sometimes the notice will even tell you what information affected their decision.

Remember: a rejection like this is NOT a personal rejection of you. The rejection probably happened without a human ever looking at your data.

Contact the reporting company, get a copy of the report used, and make sure that everything is correct. If not, making corrections and requesting a re-review may fix the situation. If it is correct, you may learn what you can work on to improve your odds moving forward.

Take Control

It is up to you to make sure that your consumer profile is up to date and accurate. Give your personal information a good look in the mirror, touch it up as best you can, and move forward with confidence!

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