It's no secret that background checks are now a major part of everyday society. Whenever someone applies for a job or a loan, rents an apartment, or even gets an insurance quote, chances are they will undergo a background screening. Although many people are aware of the screening, they may not be aware of what is turning up.
First, we all assume that if we've never had any brushes with the law that we won't have a criminal background. Unfortunately with modern background screening practices, this is not always the case. More and more background checks are being placed in the hands of internet databases that often contain incomplete or entirely inaccurate information. If your name is similar to someone with a criminal record, there is a chance that their history will be confused with yours. Make sure to get a copy of any checks run on your history to ensure that your background has not been compromised.
Another complication may arise with those who previously had a criminal record but have had their charges expunged through the courts. Getting your record expunged is not the same as getting it cleared from commercial databases. People may be repeatedly turned down for employment and not realize that it is due to the fact that their "erased" charges are still showing up on commercial screens.
Lastly, most people who have received a citation and paid it without ever being arrested or entering a court room will assume that they don't have a record. However, several misdemeanors require only a citation as a consequence. Paying the fine rather than going to court is an admission of guilt and therefore you will have essentially "pled guilty" to the crime and it will appear on your record accordingly.
Before your next job interview or loan application you take a moment to look into what is actually showing up on your background. As with credit checks, making an effort to educate yourself could prove to be the difference in your future.
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